Strong Recommendation for New U.S. Policy for Engagement with Cuba

On December 17 a strong recommendation for a new U.S. policy for engagement was put forward by the Center for Democracy in the Americas and the Washington Office on Latin America.[1]

It sets forth the Case for Engagement; the First Nine Months of the Biden Administration (Repairing the Damage); The Second Year [of the Biden Administration] (Taking the Initiative); and Finishing the Job: A Legislative Agenda.

For example, here are the major points of its Case for Engagement that advance the interests of the U.S. and those of the Cuban people:

  • “Engagement begins with constructive diplomacy that includes cooperation on issues of mutual interest and negotiations on issues in conflict.”
  • “Engagement is a more effective strategy to advance the cause of human rights, political liberty, and economic reform.”
  • “Engagement must include civil society—cultural, educational, scientific, and familial linkages that foster mutual understanding, reconciliation, and cultural enrichment for both peoples.”
  • “Engagement will facilitate commercial ties, expanding the market for U.S. businesses, raising the standard of living for the Cuban people, and encouraging economic reform.”
  • “Engagement will serve as a counterweight to the aspirations that global competitors like Russia and China have in Cuba.”
  • “Engagement accomplished in two years more than the policy of hostility achieved in sixty years.”

The Center for Democracy in the Americas is “a non-partisan 501(c )(3) institution dedicated to promoting a U.S. policy toward the Americas based on engagement and mutual respect, fostering dialogue with those governments and movements with which U.S. policy is at adds, and recognizing positive trends in democracy and governance.” It was founded in 2008 by Sarah Stevens.[2]

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is “ a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the Americas. We envision a future where public policies protect human rights and recognize human dignity, and where justice overcomes violence. WOLA tackles problems that transcend borders and demand cross-border solutions. We create strategic partnerships with courageous people making social change—advocacy organizations, academics, religious and business leaders, artists, and government officials. Together, we advocate for more just societies in the Americas.”[3]

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[1] Democracy in the Americas,  The United States and Cuba; A New Policy of Engagement (Dec. 17, 2020); Center Democracy in Americas, Joint Press Release. The Washington Office on Latin America and the Center for Democracy in the Americas publish “The United States and Cuba: A New Policy of Engagement” (Dec. 17, 2020); WOLA., The United States and Cuba: A New Policy of Engagement (Dec.2020).

[2] Center for Democracy in the Americas, Our Work.

[3] WOLA, About Us.

Implications for Cuba of Dismissal/Resignation of John Bolton as U.S. National Security Advisor 

While acting as National Security Advisor, John Bolton was a strong advocate for U.S. hostility towards Cuba.[1] His dismissal on September 10 [2] raised the hope that this might lead to the U.S. backing away from at least some of these hostile policies.

Those hopes apparently were unjustified.[3]

On September 12, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, “Just spoke to [President Trump] on #Venezuela. It’s true he disagreed with some of the views of previous advisor [John Bolton]. But as he reminded me it’s actually the DIRECT OPPOSITE of what many claim or assume. If in fact the direction of policy changes it won’t be to make it weaker.”

This was confirmed by the President in his tweet later the same day: “In fact, my views on Venezuela, and especially Cuba, were far stronger than those of John Bolton. He was holding me back!”

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[1] E.g., John Bolton’s New Threat Against Cuba, dwkcommentaries.com (Apr. 2, 2019); National Security Advisor Bolton Discusses New U.S. Sanctions Against Cuba, dwkcommentaries.com (April 19, 2019).

[2] Baker, Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Advisor, N.Y. Times (Sept. 10, 2019).

[3] Rubio, Tweet (Sept. 12, 2019); Trump, Tweet (Sept. 12, 2019); Trump: My views on Venezuela and Cuba were stronger than those of John Bolton, Cubadebate (Sept. 13, 2019).