Should the US Shift Its Policy on Cuba?


Above: Havana, Cuba

By the Caribbean Journal staff

United States Senator Patrick Leahy is urging a new United States policy toward Cuba.

Leahy was speaking this week following a recent Atlantic Council poll that found that a majority of American citizens favoured the normalization of relations with the Caribbean country.

“It is time – past time – to modernize our policies and the frozen-in-time embargo on Americans’ travel and trade with Cuba that have accomplished nothing but to give the Cuban regime a scapegoat for the failures of the Cuban economy,” Leahy said this week. “Change will come to Cuba, but our policies have delayed and impeded change.  It is time to elevate the voice of a crucial stakeholder:  the American people. Thanks to this poll, they are silent no longer.”

The Cuban embargo, which is largely opposed by the CARICOM bloc, has been in place in some form since 1960.

“It is time to recognize that U.S. policy toward Cuba has been unsuccessful in achieving any of its objectives,” said Leahy, who represents the State of Vermont in the US Senate. “There is no disagreement among Americans on both sides of the issue about the desire for a government in Cuba that respects individual liberties.  We want to see freedom of expression Cuba, just as we want to see American citizen Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned there for more than four years, come home.  The disagreement is over how best to achieve that.”

The Senator pointed to trade with the wider Latin American region, which he said was “the fastest growing part of our international commerce.”

“Rather than isolate Cuba with outdated policies, we have isolated ourselves.  Our Latin, European and Canadian friends engage with Cuba all that time,” he said. “Meanwhile, U.S. companies are prohibited from any economic activity on the island.”