This comes as a bit of a surprise, but it’s certainly long overdue. And now that Raul Castro is starting to shake things up, it could actually be politically realistic.
The nearly 50-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, Lugar (R-Ind.) said in a March 30 letter to Obama, puts the United States at odds with the views of the rest of Latin America, the European Union and the United Nations, and “undermines our broader security and political interests in the Western Hemisphere.”
The April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago would present a “unique opportunity for you to build a more hospitable climate to advance U.S. interests in the region through a change in our posture regarding Cuba policy,” Lugar wrote.
Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is in the forefront of a broad movement advocating a new policy that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, a number of state governments and human rights groups. A bipartisan majority of Congress has repeatedly voted to ease restrictions on travel and other contact with Cuba, although the measures died after threatened presidential vetoes during the Bush administration.
Still, I wonder if House Republicans will reject this idea now that Obama is in office. Seems like an easy thing to hit him with politically since Cuba is an easy boogeyman. If I were Obama, I wouldn’t spend ANY political capital on this right now.
But that’s where having a friend like Lugar comes in handy. Especially since it has a definite tie to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement that the US and Russia seem to be drawing up in the coming year.
More as it develops…