USA*ENGAGE Calls for Approval of Cuba Humanitarian Aid Bill

Thursday, 7 May 1998

About Cuba, Barnes said: "America has a vital interest in promoting a peaceful transition to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. The problem is that the current embargo blocks off all avenues of American influence. To be ready when the inevitable change in government comes, we must now reopen the flow of American ideals and values into Cuba."

"The pending legislation to allow humanitarian sales of food and medicine is a good example of how we can reach out directly to the Cuban people," he continued. "Our best chance to help Cuba rejoin the international community is engagement at every level: political, diplomatic, economic, charitable, religious, educational, and cultural."

Barnes cited several specific reasons why the United States should reevaluate its Cuba policy, including the fact that for 38 years, the embargo has not worked. Indeed, the failure of the embargo has not been lost on the American public, as only 24 percent of Americans view economic sanctions against Cuba as effective (Wall Street Journal poll April 16, 1998). In addition, Barnes also noted that the Helms-Burton law is not only driving a wedge between the U.S. and its trading partners, but has also become a popular rallying point for supporters of the Castro regime.

"The American people are a powerful voice for the blessins of freedom and democracy. By allowing travel to Cuba, we would allow their message to reach the Cuban people and lay the foundation for future relations," Barnes concluded.

Michael Barnes is a partner with Hogan & Hartson, L.L.P., and represents USA*ENGAGE. USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.


Contact: Eric Thomas 202/822-9491

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