Several assertions in the Nov. 24 editorial, Listen to Cuba’s dissidents, go to the heart of whether U.S. policy should remain frozen in failure or change.
First, the Herald identifies the views of certain dissidents who agree that sanctions should remain in place. Of course, they should be heard, but so should the other voices that hold opposing views. For example, in a video our organization just released, Reinaldo Escobar — blogger, independent journalist, and the husband of blogger Yoani Sánchez — says: “The main mistake that the United States has committed regarding Cuba is to stubbornly refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the government of Cuba. That’s everything.” In fact, the views of Cuban dissidents and those that the editorial calls “ordinary” citizens are not monolithic on this subject, or any other.
Second, economic and political reforms under way in Cuba are already making a difference. Now that Cubans can start their own small businesses, earn higher wages, hire other Cubans, make their own business decisions and travel abroad, they have greater autonomy and decision-making power than they have previously enjoyed. Keeping the embargo in place has the paradoxical effect slowing these long-sought developments, when they should be encouraged.
Last, readers are asked to take a leap of logic that says, because the government of Cuba will not accede to U.S. demands to give up its power, we should maintain the same sanctions that have failed to induce the wholesale systemic changes they were designed to achieve.
Time will tell if the recent remarks of President Obama and Secretary John Kerry herald a change in U.S. policy. On behalf of ordinary and extraordinary Cubans, in Cuba and Miami, who think the embargo perpetuates the problems the Herald seeks to address by keeping it in place, we hope they do.
Sarah Stephens, executive director, The Center
for Democracy in the Americas, Washington, D.C.