Text of NPR Story on Lugar’s Cuba Moves

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Jackie Northam, national security correspondent for NPR, has a great piece up on Senator Richard Lugar’s moves on US-Cuba relations that will air this evening.
But here is the beginning of the “text” that can be read in full as well. But the opener:

The senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says U.S. policy toward Cuba has not worked to bring democracy to the island and he is recommending an overhaul.
In a report due to be distributed this week, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) says recent leadership changes in both countries have created an opportunity to rethink a complicated relationship, which he says is marked by misunderstanding and suspicion.
One of the key policy overhauls Lugar’s report calls for is lifting tight restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Bush administration in 2003.
Embargo As Excuse
But Steve Clemons, with the New America Foundation, says Lugar’s report is a sharp indictment of nearly five decades of failure in trying to shift Havana’s behavior through sanctions and embargoes.
“I think the … thing about the Lugar report is he said 47 years of failure, that embargos can work in some cases as they did in apartheid in South Africa, but there’s no one who can look at the U.S.-Cuba relationship and say this has succeeded in any way, shape or form,” Clemons says.
Lugar is not recommending lifting the embargo, but he does say the embargo gives Cuba a convenient “scapegoat” for its economic problems. He notes that the replacement of President Fidel Castro with his brother, Raul, a year ago sparked a new discussion about U.S. policy toward the island.
Clemons says it is a prime moment for the U.S. to redefine its relationship with Cuba.
“You … see in Cuba, I think, a more pragmatic and realist leadership there that seems to be moving forward,” Clemons says.
He says there is also a new leadership in the United States.
“The question is can we take advantage of pivot points in history, or do we stand back and let them go by and do nothing?” Clemons asks.
Changes In Cuba
Carl Meacham, Lugar’s senior staffer, researched and wrote the report. He says there have been some positive developments recently in Cuba. In particular, he notes what he calls “modest reforms” such as allowing citizens to be able to own cell phones and computers and stay at hotels previously reserved for foreigners — though the vast majority of the population can’t afford to take advantage of these reforms.
“These changes shouldn’t be mistaken as being structural reforms, that they really have not changed the way the government works in Cuba,” Meacham says. “Nevertheless, they’re working on the edges a little bit because people are dissatisfied, mainly with economic issues.”

This is real progress. Republican Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) is a naysayer using an old smattering of “evil regime” stuff to argue against change.
I’d really love someone to send me a note if they have Senator Martinez’s travel outside the United States to other countries.
What other “evil regimes” may Senator Martinez have ventured into if he wants to preempt national interest-driven terms of engagement with Cuba?
— Steve Clemons

Comments

8 comments on “Text of NPR Story on Lugar’s Cuba Moves

  1. Mr.Murder says:

    You want to accelerate the US-Cuba model, mention oil futures and the kind of relief our scale economy can get by channeling the market sectors this way.
    Imagine refueling the refinery belt of the gulf coast(literally) and all the service providers along with it.
    Imagine those voting against it having to explain why they are against cheaper gas and oil.

    Reply

  2. Jay C says:

    I heard this piece on NPR and had two thoughts about it:
    First, that NPR (and any other interested outlet) ought to have
    Steve Clemons on it much more often.
    Second, Sen. Lugar’s intentions notwithstanding, it seems rather
    unlikely that the Obama Administration is going to want to
    spend ANY political capital (at this point, anyway) on upsetting
    the domestic political applecart with any significant changes to
    US Cuban policy – other than the already-announced changes,
    which are actually merely a reversion to the pre-2003(?)
    status quo. At least not while anyone named “Castro”
    is alive and in charge in Cuba.
    Sen. Martinez’ comments, of course, did sound hackish and
    simple-minded: but it is precisely the sort of simple-minded
    hackery that the Cuban exile lobby and its Republican
    supporters have milked for political power and influence for the
    last half-century. Probably uselessly by 2009, but not likely to
    change.

    Reply

  3. Mr.Murder says:

    Tobacco, citrus, oil lobbies keep us from engaging Cuba.
    The benefits of some offshore work there, provided we can channel service contracts and equipment purchase to American firms, could be a major jobs boost. It would definitely help regional economies during the transition phase we are going through re:fuel pricing.

    Reply

  4. JohnH says:

    It gives me the creeps when people like Lugar claim to be interested in the well being of Cubans. As if he really cared whether Cubans get to use cell phones or stay in “foreigners only” hotels! Please, could we cut the crap?
    Yes, 50 years of trade embargo have not brought democracy to Cuba. But neither will the National Endowment for “Democracy.” What is certain is that the foreign policy mob will rush to hail democracy’s return to Cuba as soon as any American client state gets installed there. And it won’t really matter if the client state treats its people any better than Castro. It will still be called a democracy.

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    hurry up and send more troops to war in afgan but…. ‘go slow’ in cuba… i think i see a pattern…

    Reply

  6. Gary S. says:

    I agree with Lugar. Go slow, but we must change our attitude towards Cuba.

    Reply

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