Time for a Reality Check

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Yesterday, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana and Congressman Howard Berman of California wrote an opinion editorial in the Miami Herald advocating for the unconditional removal of tourism-related sanctions towards the Castro regime.

They wrote:

"Travel ban defenders view sanctions as leverage over the Cuban government and their abolition as a concession. But over the last five decades, it has become clear that isolation will not induce the Castro regime to take steps toward political liberalization. Conditionality is not leverage in this case."

Yet, during a seminar this summer -- organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. -- on Europe and Canada's policy of unconditional engagement with the Castro dictatorship, Dianna Melrose, Britain's Ambassador to Cuba -- and a philosophical foe of sanctions -- painfully admitted,

"Let's have a reality check. The EU has little to show for its engagement over the past year. There's very little the Cuban government wants from the EU that it doesn't already have: trade and investment, development assistance and continuing opposition to the U.S. embargo. So if there is any external actor that has potential leverage over Cuba, it is the United States."

Reality is tough to accept at times, but it is reality nonetheless.