Tuli Can't Stop Talking

These are just my thoughts on contemporary issues and an attempt to open up a dialogue.

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A citizen who cares deeply about the United States Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

CANF Changes Course

And it is about time. So, here are Carl Hiaasen’s thoughts on the issue. You know that I love him.

Posted on Sun, Apr. 12, 2009

CANF makes sober proposal about U.S. policy on Cuba

In an historic turnabout, the most prominent Cuban exile organization in the country now wants the Obama White House to expand and enhance relations with the Castro regime.
The Cuban American National Foundation, once a fire-breathing opponent of dialogue with Cuba, has produced a comprehensive 14-page proposal for a different -- and long overdue -- approach.
Published last week, the white paper is titled ``A New Course for U.S.-Cuba Policy: Advancing
People-Driven Change.'' It urges the Obama administration to discard the failed strategy of ''containment'' in favor of a ``people-to-
people'' initiative that focuses on improving the lives of Cuban
The paper is a frank acknowledgment that the old hard-line policies have utterly failed to destabilize Cuba's communist leadership, or bring any meaningful reforms to the island.
As foundation president, Francisco J. Hernández, a Bay of Pigs veteran, explained: ``For 50 years we have been trying to change the Cuban government, the Cuban regime. At the present time, what we have to do is change the emphasis to the Cuban people -- because they are going to be the ones who change things in Cuba.''
For the first time, CANF is advocating direct diplomatic engagement between the United States and Cuba. Jorge Mas Canosa, the bombastic leader of the foundation in its early years, must be spinning in his grave.
The idea of communicating with Cuba will be denounced as treasonous by some exile radio hosts, but their time is fading. Polls show that a rising percentage of Cuban Americans are ready for a change, which isn't surprising after decades of frustration and futility.
For many, the tipping point came in 2004 when the Bush administration -- huffing macho, as always -- imposed tough rules limiting how often exiles could visit relatives on the island, and how much cash they could send to family members.
The cold-hearted plan accomplished nothing except punishing the Cuban people. The Castro brothers suffered not one bit. That fairly sums up the story of the long-running botch job that passes for America's Cuban policy.
We have diplomatic relations with many countries whose human-rights records are as bad, or worse. We eagerly converse (and heavily trade) with nations that lock up dissidents and journalists, or have no serious democratic aspirations.
We talk with China, Vietnam, Russia, Saudi Arabia -- even Libya, a regime that had a direct role in blowing up a Pan Am jet full of innocent people.
It's mainly because of South Florida's vocal exile lobby that the United States has persisted on its fruitless course of trying to isolate Cuba. Ironically, the trade embargo turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Fidel Castro, presenting him with a ready scapegoat for the country's chronic economic mess.
Although the CANF white paper doesn't call for an end to the embargo, the foundation does support a plan for allowing Cuban Americans and others to send cash, building materials and farm equipment to the island. It also favors an executive order allowing direct aid to pro-democracy groups in Cuba, which have struggled for outside funds under rules enacted during the Clinton administration.
As a top priority, CANF strongly supports President Obama's promise to remove the punitive restrictions on travel and remittances, which the White House has said will happen probably this week.
Obama made this one of his campaign pledges, rightly calling it a humanitarian issue. Cuban Americans should be able to visit family members in Cuba as often as possible and send them as much money as they wish, as other immigrants and exiles are allowed to do.
The dramatic about-face by the Cuban American Foundation could bolster current efforts in Congress to broaden contact with Cuba. Both the House and the Senate are considering bipartisan legislation that would basically permit all Americans to travel there.
It's likely that the Cuban-American members of South Florida's congressional delegation will stick to the shrill hard line, but the political tide is turning. Many U.S. companies have been pushing for years to get the trade barriers lifted, and a receding domestic market makes Cuba look even more appealing.
Capitalism works
With Fidel frail and fading, and Raúl seeking to make his own mark, there's an opportunity for the United States to finally start making a positive difference in the country. The best way is to establish a presence, beginning with tourists and then trade.
Nothing promotes capitalism as effectively as saturating a place with products, services and entertainment supplied by a capitalist system. China is still not a democracy, but its people today have more freedom -- and a bigger appetite for freedom -- than ever before.
What happened in Beijing could happen just as quickly in Havana, if the United States ever unleashed its potent weapons of mass consumption: Mountain Dew, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Levi's jeans . . .
Raúl wouldn't know what hit him.

Now I may not agree with everything here, but the overall I do agree with.


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