Friday, December 18, 2009

Improving relations by annoying Latin America

Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) removed his hold on Tom Shannon's appointment as Ambassador to Brazil. His office then issued a press release entitled "LeMieux Focuses on Improving U.S., Latin America Policy." He believes quite strongly that improving relations with Latin America means pursuing policies that are deeply unpopular in Latin America.

He mentions Honduras, of course, but his audience is the hardline Cuban American population.

In Cuba, the U.S. will reopen the process for non-profit organizations to apply for pro-democracy grants, the practice of including members of the Cuban pro-democracy movement in events at the U.S. Interests Section will be restored, Title IV of the Helms Burton Act will be enforced, and the awarding of Cuba Democracy Assistance grants will be done in a fair and transparent manner.

In practice, this means using our leverage to keep the Castro regime in power. Title IV of Helms-Burton is particularly problematic because it involves punishing foreign companies that "traffic" in property claimed by Americans as confiscated. Presidents Clinton and Bush issued waivers to avoid damaging our relations with Europe, Latin America, Canada, and essentially the entire world.

I can understand currying favor with Cuban Americans. That is what Florida politicians do, though even that population is no longer as hardline as it once was. But everyone needs to understand that this will strengthen the Castro regime and annoy Latin America. If that is how you define "positive relations," then so be it.


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