CUBAN REGIME CHANGE?
Eager to please a key Florida constituency, President Bush directed his secretary of state and his Cuban-born housing secretary Friday to recommend ways to achieve a transition to democracy in Cuba after 44 years under Fidel Castro.
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Housing Secretary Mel Martinez will chair a panel that will “plan for the happy day when Castro’s regime is no more and democracy comes to the island,” Bush said during a Rose Garden ceremony.
“The transition to freedom will present many challenges to the Cuban people and to America, and we will be prepared,” the president said.
Bush also said the United States would step up enforcement of existing restrictions against the communist regime, such as a ban on tourism by Americans, and crack down on the trafficking of women and children in Cuba. The United States also will launch a public outreach campaign to identify “the many routes to safe and legal entry” for Cubans who try to flee their homeland, he said.
“We’ll increase the number of new Cuban immigrants we welcome every year,” Bush added. “We are free to do so, and we will for the good of those who seek freedom.”
While both parties are guilty of playing to the Cuban exile vote, this policy is just absurd. While intelligent observers can disagree over the extent to which Saddam Hussein’s regime threatened US interests, there is virtually no argument that Castro is no threat. And there are certainly poorer countries in the world–even the hemisphere–than Cuba. Indeed, our 40-plus-year-old embargo contributes to their poverty. It’s time to put this relic of the Cold War behind us.