Let's review Cuba policy

November 03, 1998

An excerpt of a Friday Los Angeles Times editorial: FOR nearly 40 years, U.S. policy toward Cuba has failed to achieve its stated goal of overthrowing Fidel Castro through an embargo on trade and tourism.

Relations between Washington and Havana have been iced since Fidel Castro's revolution broke the powerful U.S. influence on the island nation. President John F. Kennedy imposed a total embargo on Cuba in 1962. Once uncomfortable neighbors, the two countries became implacable enemies.

More recently, in 1992, Congress passed the Cuban Democracy Act, which prohibited U.S.-owned or -controlled subsidiaries located abroad from doing business with Cuba. Then, in 1996, came a nadir, the Helms-Burton Act, which tightened the embargo by allowing U.S. citizens to sue foreign companies that bought formerly U.S.-owned property confiscated by the Cuban government. Helms-Burton hurt America's allies.

There is nothing to gain in this diplomatic downward spiral, and a distinguished group of foreign policy experts including George Shultz, William P. Rogers, Henry Kissinger and Lawrence Eagleburger, all former secretaries of State, has called on President Clinton to create a commission to review Washington's Cuba policy. The president should do just that.

It's time for Washington to shake off old positions and consider new ones; to assess any risks that Cuba poses to U.S. national security; to investigate the political and economic impact of the embargo and the damage done to Washington's multilateral relations by the Helms-Burton Act.

Both Cuba and the United States have paid a price. It's time to move ahead.

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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