Cuba Policy

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Cuba Policy

Postby EWang » Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:48 pm

Model Congress -- Cuba Policy
Debate: October 14, 2009


The United States has a complex historical relationship with Cuba. With a globalizing world and a new American administration, what approach should the United States take to address our concerns for and our fundamental differences with Cuba? Let the debating begin.

"Cuba Policy Brief
Cuba and the United States are close neighbors- but only in the physical sense. About 90 miles of water separate Cuba and the state of Florida. Politically, however, there is a vast divided between the two neighbors. Prior to 1959, the nations had varying relations. At first Cuba was liberated from Spain by the United States in the Spanish-American War, and then varying leaders went through, each with a neutral to positive relation to the United States. The last pro-American ruler in Cuba was the dictator General Fulgencio Batista. Batista was supported by the United States, and American businesses held a lot of interests in his country.

The relationship soured when Communist rebel Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista government and became the Prime Minister of Cuba. This took place in 1959, at the height of the Cold War. The Cold War was a unique conflict that lasted from 1945, shortly after the end of World War 2, to 1991. Rather than direct military action between the two main belligerents, it involved primarily intelligence, diplomatic intelligence, and proxy wars. It was a quest for geopolitical and ideological supremacy between the Communist Soviet Union and the capitalist United States. Castro enjoyed a short grace period in the eyes of the United States, but shortly after he started nationalizing businesses, as per Communist policy, he was firmly classified as an enemy. In 1960, President Eisenhower authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to train an army of Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro. During Kennedy’s term, in 1961, this resulted in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Fearful of another invasion, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba, resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Eventually this was privately resolved between the two superpowers as the UUSR pulled its missiles out of Cuba and the US removed the American missiles in Turkey. Kennedy also promised that the US would never invade Cuba. Despite this, relationships remained frosty. Various CIA attempts to humiliate or kill Castro continued. All of them failed and Castro outlasted the Soviets themselves.

In modern-times US-Cuban relations still have not thawed. Neither nation has an embassy in the others. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C. and the United States Interest Section in Havana are both officially under the protection of the Swiss Embassies there. Apart from old mistrust relating to the prior invasion and assassination attempts and missile placements, the nations still have disputes today.

One issue that divides the two nations is the status of Guantanamo Bay Naval base. Cuba would like to see America leave the base and return it to the Cubans. However, the Cuban-American Treaty, under which the base was leased, states that so long as the rent is paid, the base can continue to exist. Cuba will only get the land there back if both sides agree to it or the United States unilaterally withdraws. Cuba has claimed that the coercion involved in the procurement of the treaty makes it invalid under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, but the Convention is specifically non-retroactive, meaning that it would not apply. However, the treaty says that the US may use Guantanamo “generally to do any and all things necessary to fit the premises for use as coaling or naval stations only, and for no other purpose.” Whether or not prisoner detention is a naval station purpose is debatable. America has sent in the lease checks every year in full and on schedule. Fidel Castro cashed the first one he ever received; the rest are stuffed in a drawer in his office.

Another thing that is displeasing to the United States is Cuba’s human rights record. As an authoritarian one-party state, the human rights record is predictably abysmal. Human Rights Watch and the United Nations, along with the US State Department, have accused the Cubans of suppression of dissent, suppression of freedom of expression, show trials, torture, mob actions called “acts of repudiation”, and so on. These things go against the American ideals, contained in the Declaration of Independence, of the rights to “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Clearly, these things must be factored in to America’s policies about Cuba.

One interesting test of human rights consideration came in the Elian Gonzalez affair. Gonzalez was a young Cuban boy whose mother had attempted to take him to the US and then drowned. Immigration officials released him to family members in Miami who resolved to keep him and take care of him. However, his father, still in Cuba, asked for him to be returned. After widespread media attention and passionate arguments on both sides, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the Border Patrol to seize Elian by force. He was eventually returned to Cuba. Castro appears to have used him as a propaganda tool, attending at least one birthday party: Elian considers him a “friend” and a father. Opinions on the issue varied: journalist Richard Cohen wrote that this was an issue between a boy and his father, while philosopher Leonard Peikoff claimed, “It would be a sin to deport Elián Gonzalez. ... To send him there in order to preserve his father's rights is absurdity, since there are no parental or other rights in Cuba. To send him there because ‘He needs a father, no matter what,’ is a mindless bromide.” The Gonzalez affair is significant not only on its own but also because the issue of divided families that will likely play a part in future immigration disputes.

Finally, the United States maintains an embargo against Cuba, along with travel restrictions. The embargo, contained in its modern form in the Helms-Burton Act, makes it very hard to sell most products there. In the meantime, it appears to have had little effect in instilling democracy on the island. The US Chamber of Commerce says that the embargo costs the United States $1.2 billion a year. Cuba is also seen as a potentially large market for American exports and businesses. Some might argue that ending the embargo would legitimize Castro’s government. However, the US has already recognized Castro, and the idea has been raised that the embargo merely aids Castro as it allows him to blame the US for Cuba’s problems.

Fidel Castro is no longer the president of Cuba (the position of prime minister no longer exits, and president is the highest rank available). He retired in 2008 due to health concerns but remains First Secretary of the Communist Party. His younger brother Raul is now president.

EDIT for news update 9/3/09: The US Treasury department decided that Cuban-Americans could send their relatives as much cash and visit them as much as they wanted under Obama’s softer policy towards Cuba. Other changes have also been put into place. See last link.

Links:
http://www.hrw.org/legacy/english/docs/ ... a12207.htm
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/dip_cuba002.asp
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N17200921.htm
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Vienna_Co ... f_Treaties
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4299294.stm
http://www.freetrade.org/node/433
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/244974.stm
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090903/us_nm/us_cuba_usa "

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby mlind » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:23 pm

Quotes from Leonard Peikoff in our debate briefs?

More importantly, I think we should end the embargo and the travel restrictions. Worrying about "legitimizing" the Cuban government is a silly reason to stop travel and trade with Cuba. What is there to legitimize? It's already legitimate. Keeping American trade out of Cuba won't do anything to improve Cuba's situation, anyway.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Fri Oct 02, 2009 9:50 pm

I agree for different reasons (and since I'm writing the bill, that means something). I want Americans to be able to make money out of Cuba. Ending the embargo will remove the Castros' favorite scapegoat. And an influx of American dollars may lead to an influx of American influence. All the same, I would not mind in the slightest if the Castros kicked the bucket.

And yes, Peikoff. Opposing opinions on the subject were expressed in the brief- and personally, I agree with Peikoff. Elian wasn't going to be deprived, he has family here and could have had personal freedoms and the dignity of not being some authoritarian leader's propaganda tool.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby SRaghavan » Sat Oct 03, 2009 7:53 pm

Why does the US still maintain a trade embargo with Cuba? After 50 years, nothing is going to change and besides, it is not the job of the US to decide the type of government that Cuba is going to have.

On another note, Why exactly is the Elian Gonzalez issue significant? Can someone please clarify?

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Sat Oct 03, 2009 8:46 pm

Elian Gonzalez is an immigration issue. We get many refugees from Cuba, and his problem is indicative of the types of issues we will have to deal with, e.g. border crossings and parents on both sides. Have you heard of parental kidnapping, especially those when the child is taken abroad? It's somewhat similar.

As for our power or lack thereof over Cuba- so long as they are not our security problem, we shouldn't invade them, but on a moral and rhetorical level we should never give them a free pass for having a government that violates individual rights and turns young children into supervised propaganda tools.

I'm most concerned about Americans making money and increasing our influence through the dollar.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby pmcavaddy » Sun Oct 04, 2009 9:26 pm

Another thought for why the embargo should cease is because its basically just post Cold War stubborness.

America basically outlasted Soviet Russia and "won" the Cold War but now doesnt want to "lose" to Cuba. Though this embargo is costing the U.S. 1.2 billion dollars per year and providing Castro with a scape goat for Cuba's problems, the U.S. doesnt want to give in and stop the embargo just because it doesnt want to look weak.

However, what we really need to do is MOVE FORWARD! Sever all ties to the Cold War, drop the embargo, let Cuba go on being their own country and hope that after the Castros are no longer in power that Cuba will take a turn for the better.

America has too many other problems with money, wars,and other things to be losing that money because of something that ended in the 90's.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:13 pm

OK, here's the bill so far. It's a bit rough about the edges, I thinks, and I will probably edit it for functionality and aesthetics. The core ideas, however, are here. As mentioned above, I am ending the embargo that does nothing for your average Cuban but costs us money. At the same time, I refuse to sell weapons to Cuba and allow American technology to empower a government which violates its citizens' rights and oppresses them so much. Get debating.
-------------------------
An Act to Reform American Relations with Cuba

Sponsored by Senator George Alukal

Be It Hereby Enacted by the House of Representatives and Senate in Congress Assembled;

Whereas current American policy towards the nation of Cuba has not achieved any kind of economic success or increased the civil liberties and political rights of the Cuban people, while actually allowing the Cuban leadership to scapegoat the United States as the source of Cuban problems;

Section 1: Cuba is defined as the nation known as the Republic of Cuba in the United Nations.

Section 2: The Cuban Liberty and Democracy Solidarity Act of 1996 is hereby repealed. The following items, however, may not be sold to Cuba by the United States government or individuals or businesses in the United States:
a. any firearm, explosive, or other item judged by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to be a weapon intended primarily to injure or kill living animals, including humans.
b. Any piece of military equipment, as designated by the Department of Defense.

Section 3: The State Department shall approach the government of Cuba through the United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba about the establishment of direct diplomatic relations between the two nations.

Section 4: The following trade conditions shall be put in place.
a. The United States shall pursue a policy of free trade and travel between itself and Cuba, subject to any relevant restrictions.
b. Should the Cuban government put in place tariffs on American exports, a matching tariff shall be automatically placed on imports from Cuba.
c. The United States government will never place tariffs or export taxes on any American exports to Cuba.

Section 5: Guantanamo Bay Naval Base shall remain under United States control subject to the use and payment provisions of the Cuban-American Treaty. Failure of the Cuban government to accept future payment will not be seen as termination of the treaty.

Section 6: No form of military aid shall be given to Cuba unless it is in the immediate national security interests of the United States to do so. Such aid will cease as soon as the cause of the aid is no longer relevant.

Section 7: This bill shall take effect ninety-one days after passage.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby vallada » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:22 pm

Can I speak second pro for this bill?

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:32 pm

Speakers

First pro: George Alukal
First con: Eric Wasserman
Second pro: Vikram Allada
Second con: Josh Casto

New members, I recommend you start volunteering to speak second pro or con. It's a good first step.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby JCasto » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:30 pm

I'll speak con. George's bill appears to support my views, but is actually backhanded.


I'd prefer newer members speaking con, however.

Nice work with the bill, regardless, George. I would suggest changes but then I wouldn't be able to speak con haha

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Thu Oct 08, 2009 7:54 pm

Well, that's nice and vague. Since you'd prefer newer members doing the job, I'll put you in as a con speaker only if I can't find two con speakers.

Oh, but you could be setting us up for an amendment-fest. You really shouldn't be telling people to hammer their problems out on the forums beforehand if you won't do it yourself.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby JCasto » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:51 pm

Fine, Georgie, put me as second con, then. And here are my criticisms:

Section 4: The following trade conditions shall be put in place.
a. The United States shall pursue a policy of free trade and travel between itself and Cuba, subject to any relevant restrictions. <--- Oh, a caveat, eh? "We'll have free trade and travel... but it won't be free." Vague.
b. Should the Cuban government put in place tariffs on American exports, a matching tariff shall be automatically placed on imports from Cuba. <--- I thought the idea was to get rid of tariffs? How does this automatic trigger solve any problems?
c. The United States government will never place tariffs or export taxes on any American exports to Cuba. <--- No taxes??

Section 5: Guantanamo Bay Naval Base shall remain under United States control subject to the use and payment provisions of the Cuban-American Treaty. Failure of the Cuban government to accept future payment will not be seen as termination of the treaty. <--- My biggest problem with the bill thus far. The only true way to reform our relations with Cuba is to get rid of the Guantanamo Bay base. And since Obama has stalled on that, this would be a perfect time to do so.

Section 6: No form of military aid shall be given to Cuba unless it is in the immediate national security interests of the United States to do so. Such aid will cease as soon as the cause of the aid is no longer relevant. <--- No humanitarian aid? Also, who decides when aid is appropriate to be given?

Section 7: This bill shall take effect ninety-one days after passage.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:26 pm

JCasto wrote:Fine, Georgie, put me as second con, then. And here are my criticisms:

Section 4: The following trade conditions shall be put in place.
a. The United States shall pursue a policy of free trade and travel between itself and Cuba, subject to any relevant restrictions. <--- Oh, a caveat, eh? "We'll have free trade and travel... but it won't be free." Vague.


Again, the restrictions above, plus, of course anything that is illegal to import into either country.

JCasto wrote:b. Should the Cuban government put in place tariffs on American exports, a matching tariff shall be automatically placed on imports from Cuba. <--- I thought the idea was to get rid of tariffs? How does this automatic trigger solve any problems?
c. The United States government will never place tariffs or export taxes on any American exports to Cuba. <--- No taxes??


Why not? The goal is to help our businesses, since the embargo has done nothing for Cuban civil liberties and political freedoms, the original intentions. I was under the impression that free trade involved a lack of tariffs and taxes. The automatic trigger is to prevent Cuba from placing tariffs on our products- they badly need the money they would get from selling anything to us. I am open to altering that part, though.

JCasto wrote:Section 5: Guantanamo Bay Naval Base shall remain under United States control subject to the use and payment provisions of the Cuban-American Treaty. Failure of the Cuban government to accept future payment will not be seen as termination of the treaty. <--- My biggest problem with the bill thus far. The only true way to reform our relations with Cuba is to get rid of the Guantanamo Bay base. And since Obama has stalled on that, this would be a perfect time to do so.


See, Josh, you're misunderstanding my goal. The plan is to bring greater prosperity to the Americans who sell and the Cubans who can now buy goods and services (and vice versa, but probably mostly that way). This is also supposed to allow us to increase our influence there through American dollars and allow us to press for more rights for Cubans that way. I'm not doing this to show the oppressive government and its leaders any approval. We legally have the rights to GTMO, and Fidel Castro did accept the first check. We're not doing the Castros and their government any special favors. We have a right to be in GTMO, and we should stay there. I also doubt that the base rankles the Cubans as much as the embargo- after all, they have our promise not to invade them, which we have no reason to break.

JCasto wrote:Section 6: No form of military aid shall be given to Cuba unless it is in the immediate national security interests of the United States to do so. Such aid will cease as soon as the cause of the aid is no longer relevant. <--- No humanitarian aid? Also, who decides when aid is appropriate to be given?

Section 7: This bill shall take effect ninety-one days after passage.


I said "military" aid, Josh. Authoritarian governments should not be receiving our training or tanks. These are very different from humanitarian aid. If someone wants to send (insert food, clothing, or disease-prevention item here) to Cuba, I say let them.

I hope you don't have a problem with the enactment clause, of all things. If you do, please explain.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby JCasto » Thu Oct 08, 2009 10:35 pm

Hahaha, sorry, I overlooked the military thing.. a bit tired.. and no, i had just copy pasted the bill, so that was a vestige.

more tomorrow.

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Re: Cuba Policy

Postby galukal » Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:48 pm

"The US Chamber of Commerce says that the embargo costs the United States $1.2 billion a year."

We won't have to pay tariffs under free trade conditions.


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