USIS Washington 

19 February 1999


(Containment achieved; help sought for civil society)  (1250)
By Bruce Carey
USIA Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The successful Cold War stategy of containment should
now be followed by nurturing the fragile civil society that is
"tentatively but persistently beginning to emerge" in Cuba, according
to a report published in early January by the Council on Foreign

More contacts, continuing humanitarian aid, help for an evolving
economy, and careful attention to specific U.S. policy needs are the
best blueprint for U.S. efforts to "contribute to rapid, peaceful,
democratic transition in Cuba while safeguarding the vital interests
of the United States," said the report.

The Council, a New York-based research institution, sponsored the Cuba
study, which was conducted by an independent task force comprised of
both liberal and conservative experts. The report asserts that
"U.S.-Cuban relations are entering a new era," characterized by the
end of the threat of global communism and the isolation of the regime
of Fidel Castro from a Western Hemisphere now firmly committed to open
elections, personal liberty, and economic freedom.

The task force headed by William Rogers and Bernard Aronson, both
former assistant secretaries of state for Western Hemisphere affairs,
further contends that this shift away from the containment policy
adopted by the United States towards Cuba and the rest of the Soviet
bloc for decades is a tribute to the very success of the policy -- its
"natural evolution."

Washington should now concentrate on "supporting, nurturing, and
strengthening the civil society that is slowly, tentatively, but
persistently beginning to emerge in Cuba today beneath the shell of
Cuban communism," said the report.

The study noted that the pace of change cannot be predicted. But its
authors declared that "there is no doubt it will come." They pointed
out that Castro faces the same inescapable problem as the former
Soviet Union -- either allow change by permitting economic freedom
that will eventually undermine his totalitarian regime, or repress
economic freedom, which would be certain to foment rising public

Either way, the issue for the United States is how to nurture the
trend toward reform and liberalization. The authors' recommendations
for assisting this progress come in five "baskets" of policies.


The study said that restrictions on humanitarian visits from the
United States to Cuba should be ended. "The federal government should
not be the judge of how often Cuban-Americans, or any other Americans,
need to visit relatives abroad," it said. Ceilings on remittances also
should be raised. Currently, only $1,200 per year may be sent to
family members in Cuba. This limit should be increased to $10,000 for
a trial period of 18 months. The trial could be ended if it is
determined that the Cuban regime has enacted taxes or other
regulations to siphon off a significant portion of the money, the
report said.

Cuban-Americans should be allowed to retire in Cuba, and Social
Security and other U.S. Treasury payments should be cleared for
deposit in Cuban banks. Family reunification should be promoted. Visas
for individuals seeking to visit family members in Cuba should be no
more difficult to issue than visas for any other country. Direct mail
service should be restored, as well, the report said.


Targetted travel should be facilitated, such as exchanges and visits
pertaining to academics, science, environment, health, culture,
athletics, and religion. Some Cuban officials should be allowed to
make private visits to the United States. Currently, legislators and
high-ranking officials are denied entry, but allowing these leaders to
see first-hand how U.S. liberty works might encourage them to make the
reforms Cuba needs. Cultural collaboration also should be increased.
Although more actors, musicians, and artists from Cuba have visited
the United States since the Cuban Democracy Act was passed by Congress
in 1992, the report noted that few from the United States have visited

Currently, intellectual property is systematically pirated by the
Cuban regime, which cites the U.S. embargo as an excuse. The report
recommends that U.S. companies and artists be allowed to negotiate
guarantees in Cuba that would protect their copyrights, patents, and
trademarks. Both countries are encouraged to regularize and comply
with domestic and international copyright, patent, and trademark
regimes. The United States should allow, and in some cases fund,
merit-based academic, professional, and official exchanges designed to
promote Cuba's transition.

Direct commercial flights should be permitted between the United
States and Cuba. Current spending limits on licensed travelers to Cuba
of $100 per day should be lifted; the $100 limit should be imposed
only on spending in state-run ventures. U.S. consular services should
be expanded in Cuba, the report recommends, and reciprocity should be
negotiated to end the imbalance whereby Cuban diplomats have no
special restrictions in the United States, while U.S. diplomats are
banned from nearly all official Cuban facilities other than the
Foreign Ministry.


The report advocates "cash and carry" policies that would eventually
eliminate all licensing with respect to donation and sales of food,
medicines, and medical products to non-governmental and humanitarian
institutions such as hospitals. People-to-people aid should be
promoted, such as efforts by churches and non-profit institutions to
assist Cubans in wide-ranging ways. These include people-to-people
programs associated with "adoption" of local governmental and
non-governmental organizations by their U.S. counterparts.

Cuban-Americans should be allowed to claim relatives living in Cuba as
dependents for income-tax purposes if other relevant Internal Revenue
Service requirements are met, the report asserts. Families of
prisoners of conscience should be helped by encouraging our allies in
Europe and Latin America to join with the United States in providing
the families with financial assistance to compensate for the financial
hardship imposed by the jailing of wage-earners.


The report recommends initial steps to open up U.S. commercial
activity on the island. If investors observe current legal strictures
against using property confiscated from U.S. citizens, the
recommendations would allow businesses that support Cuba's emerging
private sector -- distribution centers for food and medical products,
and cultural enterprises -- to be licensed and operate in Cuba.

There would be stronger consensus in favor of substantial private
investment when U.S. businesses in Cuba can hire and pay workers
directly, observe internationally-recognized worker rights of free
association, and provide their goods and services to Cuban citizens,
the report asserts.


Greater contact with the Cuban military would be helpful as a
confidence-building measure that could assure Havana of the U.S.
intention to refrain from any aggressive intention. A reduction of
tensions, the report suggests, would increase the possibility of
Havana restoring public resources to social programs instead of
maintaining a defense force far larger than required. Counternarcotics
cooperation between Cuba and the United States would be beneficial to

The report recommends that routine executive branch consultations with
Congress and with a broad range of political, economic, and social
institutions would build consensus on a new policy. Working groups for
the next century could be formed among non-governmental institutions
to analyze complex problems such as what to do with the Guantanamo Bay
military facility, the effect of restoring the Cuban sugar quota, and
how to integrate a free Cuba into the international financial system.