Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cuba at Clinton Confirmation Hearing

CLINTON: Throughout our hemisphere, we have opportunities to enhance our relationships that will benefit all of us. We will return to a policy of vigorous involvement, partnership even, with Latin America, from the Caribbean to Central America to South America. We share common political, economic, and strategic interests with our friends to the south, as well as many of our citizens who share ancestral and cultural legacies. We're looking forward to working on many issues during the Summit of the Americas in April and taking up the president-elect's call for a new energy partnership around shared technology and new investments in renewable energy.


BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you.

Could I shift a little bit to Cuba? As you know, right now we have strict laws and regulations limiting economic transactions with -- with Cuba, with relatives of folks who are here. Any thought on lifting restrictions on families to visit and send -- and send things to Cuba?

CLINTON: Senator, the president-elect is committed to lifting the family travel restrictions and the remittance restrictions. He believes, and I think it's a very wise insight, that Cuban-Americans are the best ambassadors for democracy, freedom and a free market economy.

And as they are able to travel back to see their families, that further makes the case as to the failures of the Castro regime -- the repression, the political denial of freedom, the political prisoners -- all of the very unfortunate actions that have been taken to hold the Cuban people back.

You know, our policy is, first and foremost, about the freedom of the Cuban people and the bringing of democracy to the island of Cuba. We hope that the regime in Cuba, both Fidel and Raul Castro, will see this new administration as an opportunity to change some of their typical approaches.

Let those political prisoners out. Be willing to, you know, open up the economy and lift some of the oppressive strictures on the people of Cuba. And I think they would see that there would be an opportunity that could be perhaps exploited.

But that's in the future, whether or not they decide to make those changes.

My comment on the testimony can be read here.


npearl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
npearl said...

Yes, the Cuban-Americans would be great "citizen ambassadors" as they visit the Island, but do not overlook the non-Cuban Americans who traveled under people-to-people licenses before Bush cut them off in 2004. During such visits, I had personal contact with so many Cubans from all walks of life, and our exchanges led to several enduring friendships. Multiply this by thousands, and think how effective this bridge-building could be. Bring back people-to-people travel NOW, and begin introducing legislation to open up other areas of contact at all levels. We cannot continue the nearly 50 years of disastrous policy. The beginning of change in Cuba is real. We must not let this opportunity slip away.

Daniel said...

"But that's in the future, whether or not they decide to make those changes."

THis sounds like the conditional approach we've had for the last 50 years. Obama promised engagement without preconditions, let's hope Clinton understands the value in rapprochement, in and of itself, and whether or not Cuba changes its internal politics.

John McAuliff said...

I agree with both previous comments. My own comments re npearl's theme are already on http://thehavananote.com/2009/01/clintons_testimony_and_its_dou.html#more
and a second post will parallel Daniel's by tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Oh, mon Dieu! Not again!

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