USA*Engage Urges Bush Administration to Engage with Cuba

Monday, 20 May 2002

"The embargo has only succeeded in providing Castro with a blanket excuse for his failed policies," said Don Deline, Chairman of USA*Engage. "Engagement with the Cuban people on social, cultural, and economic levels is the most powerful means the United States has at its disposal for influencing democratic change in Cuba."

President Bush's speech today, reaffirming his support for the embargo, demands fundamental changes in Cuba's political and economic systems as a precondition of easing trade sanctions.

"We understand that Castro has no incentive to make these changes. We therefore advocate the U.S. taking a first step to bring about change in Cuba," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice-chairman of USA*Engage. "The U.S. needs to show the rest of the world that it is committed to promoting democratic values by reaching out to the Cuban people, not isolating them under a Communist regime. If the U.S. ends the embargo, we'll have a greater chance of delivering pro-democracy messages and fueling democratic change from the bottom up."

Last week, USA*Engage endorsed the policy recommendations set forth by the bipartisan House Cuba Working Group. The Cuba Working Group policy review recommends ten policy changes, including:

    * Repealing the travel ban;
    * Private financing of U.S. agricultural and medical exports;
    * Repealing Section 211; and,
    * Expanding security cooperation

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 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. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at