Cuba No. 409
ADA has a longstanding policy of advocating normalization of relations with Cuba. Unfortunately, several administrations, including the Clinton and Bush Administrations, have continued a destructive policy toward Cuba. ADA applauds President Carter's visit to Cuba in May of 2002, but is concerned with President George W. Bush's continued rejection of normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Lifting restrictions on U.S. trade with Cuba, a step favored by many Cuban dissident groups, would benefit the U.S. economy and U.S. jobs.
The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 tightened the embargo and continued the cruel punishment of the Cuban people. Additionally, the Helms-Burton Act continues to violate international law, cause friction with our friends and allies, who resent its extraterritorial provisions, and deny American businesses the opportunity to do business in Cuba.
ADA strongly condemns Cuba's crackdown on dissident groups.
ADA also condemns the inclusion of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. The intelligence community admits that it lacks evidence suggesting that Cuba supports or cooperates with terrorist organizations. There is no evidence that Cuba is engaged in terrorist activities of any sort against the United States and the rest of the world. Additionally, justifying the embargo against Cuba with the assertion that Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism is inconsistent with U.S. policy elsewhere. Sudan, also designated a state sponsor of terrorism, is known to cooperate with and support terrorist organizations, but is not sanctioned with a similar comprehensive embargo, even in the face of the genocide in Darfur. Inconsistent rhetoric and policies abroad undermine domestic and international support and trust for U.S. foreign policy - both sorely needed in the face of the now extremely unpopular war in Iraq.
Two recent and related developments should sway the United States to normalize relations with Cuba without delay. First, in August 2006, an ill Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother Raul. This transfer of power, albeit to a member of the Castro family, represents the most significant change in the Cuban government since Fidel came to power in 1959. The United States should seize this opportunity to try and promote democratic values in Cuba before Raul's administration becomes established and impenetrable as his brother's. Second, talks in early June of 2007 between Cuba and Spain emphasize that Cuba is ripe for change. Spanish and Cuban 'Officials 'discussed international cooperation on human rights, the death penalty and respect for human rights and the fight against international terrorism,' as well as technology and communications, the joint Cuban-Spanish statement said." (AP June 1, 2007) This new willingness to discuss previously ignored issues suggests a possible opportunity in Cuba and the U.S. to begin to normalize relations.
ADA denounces the recent Bush administration restrictions on travel of non-Cuban US citizens to Cuba, whilst expanding the travel opportunities of Cuban-Americans. This double standard is irresponsible, and harmful to American interests in Cuba. Restricting travel to Cuba denies U.S. citizens the fundamental right to freedom of travel. The Cuban government has repeatedly expressed its desire for better relations with the U.S. based on international law and respect for its sovereignty. The Bush administration argues that American tourist dollars help keep the Cuban economy and its communist government afloat. In fact, the harsh US economic policy toward Cuba has promoted the influence of hardliners in the Cuban government. It furthers American interests for the Cuban people to be exposed to Americans. People to people contacts between nations tend to promote positive openings in Cuban society especially in light of the recent developments noted above. Elizardo Sanchez, Cuba's leading Human Rights advocate, has often stated that if more American citizens explore the streets of Cuban cities, it will further a more open Cuban society.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that:
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