Tags: cuba | report | lugar

Castro's Cuba Owes Europe $29.7 Billion

Sunday, 22 Feb 2009 07:54 PM

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top Republican, Richard Lugar, issued a new report this weekend calling for the U.S. to lift its trade embargo with communist Cuba.

The U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC issued the following press release in response to the Lugar report:

"U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) is a great public servant of unquestionable character. Unfortunately, the Cuba Policy Report ("the Report") issued this weekend by his Foreign Relations Committee Latin America staff ignores key elements of the Cuban reality and contains major policy contradictions.

"First and foremost, the report noticeably ignores the plight of Cuba's courageous -- yet brutally repressed -- pro-democracy movement. According to the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996, support for Cuba's pro-democracy movement is at the core of U.S. policy towards Cuba. Not once does the report mention representative democracy as a central tenet of U.S. policy towards the entire region. Yet during a 2001 summit in Lima, Peru, 34 out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which placed representative democracy as a priority in hemispheric relations. Cuba remains the glaring exception.

"The report proceeds to condemn the "ineffectiveness" of economic sanctions, yet somehow concludes that "popular dissatisfaction with Cuba's economic situation is the regime's vulnerability." In addition to the obvious contradiction, it would be senseless for the U.S. to come to the financial rescue of the Cuban regime (and neutralize this "vulnerability"), particularly as Cuba's biggest international benefactor, President Hugo Chavez of oil-rich Venezuela, is scrambling to adjust his domestic and international spending as declining oil prices remain steady below the $50 a barrel mark.

"Within the context of humanitarian aid, the report fails to mention one exceptional fact. The U.S. proudly remains the world's largest provider of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people. This is imperative as the key to U.S. policy is -- and should remain -- the Cuban people, their well-being, and their human and civil right to live in freedom, and not on as the report suggests, in finding ways to improve our relations with the Cuban dictatorship.

"Perhaps the most domestically-tailored policy recommendation espoused by the report is for the U.S. to provide unconditional financial credits for agricultural purchases to the Cuban regime. While the Report might equivocally presume that such a policy change would benefit Indiana farmers, it fails to mention that the Paris Club of creditor nations recently disclosed that Cuba already owes $29.7 billion to its international trading partners -- with little hope for repayment -- and ranks second on the list of the world's most indebted nations.

"It further ignores that the Cuban regime operates as a foreign monopoly and is the only entity in Cuba authorized to engage in trade and commerce. At a time of such great challenges to domestic and international credit markets, our nation should be focused on providing solutions and financial relief to hard-working Americans, not on "bailing-out" the last totalitarian dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere."

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