Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cato Institute: Helms-Burton Act may hinder democracy in Cuba

A new 2001 Cato Institute report picks apart the Helms-Burton Act. Earlier today, I called this a new report. A reader kindly pointed out that it's almost 10 freakin' years old.
Sorry about posting old info, folks. I've really got to get some new glasses...
On the plus side, the gist of the report is as valid today as it was in 2001.
Mark Groombridge writes:
Helms-Burton has antagonized our allies, further isolated ordinary Cubans from the influence of American ideas, and strengthened the hand of the very government the policy was supposed to undermine. The United States stands alone in its attempt to isolate Cuba. Attempts by the United States to draw our closest allies into the fray have not been successful, and, in fact, have backfired. European officials routinely point to Helms-Burton as a turning point in U.S.-European trade relations, and U.S. intransigence helps to make a mockery of some of our valued international institutions, notably the WTO. This policy greatly disrupts our relations with our most valued allies. Nor is there evidence to suggest that Helms-Burton will advance the cause of Cuban democracy. Indeed, there is strong reason to believe that it will do the opposite.
Helms-Burton ties the hands of the American president and prohibits him from responding to fluid situations. There is, of course, no one blueprint for successful democratization. As things stand now, it appears that the inevitable regime transition in Cuba will be gradual. It is time for U.S. policy to reflect that reality. Cuba will undergo a major transition shortly, given Fidel Castro’s age. And while capitalism and money will not be the final arbiters of Cuba’s democratic fate, the United States can position itself more effectively by promoting investment in Cuba, as our allies are attempting to do. Such ventures will help to get capital into the hands of the Cuban people, a prerequisite for an effective civil society—one that will play an important role after Castro is gone, whether through death, revolution, or peaceful political transition.
Download report here.

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