Wednesday, February 27, 2008

LASA letter on Cuba

I am a member of the Latin American Studies Association, so I have my own little stake in the letter sent to President Bush by LASA and several other groups asking for a change in Cuba policy. As everyone who has even glanced at this blog knows, I am in favor of lifting the embargo. However, I don't agree with the rationale the letter uses to argue for easing of some restrictions:

I write on behalf of the organizations listed below to urge you to lift the restrictions that you imposed on academic and family travel, as well as remittances, to Cuba in 2003 and 2004, in recognition of Cuba’s first presidential succession in nearly 50 years and as a way to increase U.S. contacts with Cuba as it now begins a transition to a new generation of leadership.

First, we should not view the transfer of power from one old dictator to his equally non-democratic brother as anything but dynastic succession, so this is not something deserving “recognition.” Second, given the old guard choices made by the political elites on Sunday, there is no “transition to a new generation,” at least not as of now.

Instead, the letter should have emphasized that the restrictions strengthen the Castro regime and hurt the average Cuban, and as such are counterproductive and isolate the United States unnecessarily. Yes, we should increase contacts, but that should occur whether or not there is any "transition."

6 comments:

mcentellas 9:46 AM  

Well, I'm one of those political scientists (the bulk of LAPIS, I think) that regularly think that LASA is "too political" ... so it's not a surprise. Did you see last year's Forum (Spring 2007)?

Greg Weeks 5:52 PM  

At least in this case, I agree with the general message--e.g. we should be able to engage with Cuban scholars without calling them agents of terrorism--but the argument seems terribly weak.

mcentellas 6:14 PM  

Agreed, on both counts.

But I also don't remember any notice sent out to LASA members about this ... I thought we were supposed to get input ... if the letter is meant to speak on our behalf.

Greg Weeks 6:20 PM  

That is a great point--when I went to the LASA website, I did not even see a reference. Certainly there was no general vote.

Boli-Nica 8:20 PM  

I write on behalf of the organizations listed below to urge you to lift the restrictions that you imposed on academic and family travel, as well as remittances, to Cuba in 2003 and 2004, in recognition of Cuba’s first presidential succession in nearly 50 years

LOL, LOL, LOL, I almost spit out my coffee when I read that.....

Kim Il Sung to his son, was also the "first succession" in North Korea in 50 years.....lol...

unintentially hilarious, downright Orwellian, and one of the stupidest things I have read in a while.

Tambopaxi 3:32 PM  

Looks like LASA is taking the broadest (most hopeful) interpretation possible in terms of the word "transition". Looking at the line up of people id'd as possible replacements for Raul, I don't see any new thinking apparent with these people. Still, it could be that there's Cuban Gorbachev hidden in that group; guess we'll see....

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