There have been mixed reports on Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg's Cuba remarks at this week's Council of the America's conference at the State Department. Some media outlets have reported his remarks as expressing an aggressive desire for engagement with the Cuban regime, while others have reported his remarks as placing clear democratic markers for such engagement and challenging the other nations of this hemisphere to do the same.
The Cuba portion of Steinberg's remarks:
We must recognize that each of our countries has pursued its own democratic journey. Next month in El Salvador, for example, we will see the peaceful democratic transfer of power between representatives of opposing sides in a terrible civil war that tore the country asunder a decade ago. But however our individual trajectories might unfold, we cannot turn our back on the charter and our shared vision of a robust democratic order.
That is why we look forward to the day when every country in the hemisphere, including Cuba, can take its seat at this very special table in a manner that is consistent with the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.
The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba, and we have changed our policy in ways that we believe will advance liberty and create opportunity for the Cuban people. We now allow Cuban-Americans to visit the island more freely and provide resources to their families there. The President has also made clear our willingness and our readiness to engage constructively with the Cuban Government on a wide range of issues. But as the United States reaches out to the Cuban people, we must also call on our friends in the hemisphere to join together in supporting liberty, equality, and human rights for all Cubans.
No one should mistake our willingness to engage governments with whom our relations have deteriorated in recent years for an abdication of principle. On the contrary, we believe that engagement strengthens our abilities to raise concerns about democracy and human rights as we look for ways to cooperate in areas of common interest.
One of the biggest challenges facing democracies everywhere is demonstrating to our citizens that democracy produces shared prosperity for all its hardworking people. The region is showing that democracy can deliver if governments can find ways to go beyond trade and capital liberalization to craft policies and build institutions committed to social justice.
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