Changing Course on Cuba

To the editor:

Your August 10 article, “Changing Course on Cuba,” is representative of American political hubris at its most self-serving. Since the days of Thomas Jefferson’s candid confession that “Cuba [is] the most interesting addition which could ever be made to our system of States,” the United States has maintained a special –call it intense—focus on the Caribbean island. William A. Reinsch and Jake Colvin blatantly express their desire to recreate “our [American] ideas, values and access in a post-Castro Cuba,” disregarding the possibility that Cubans have a will and an autonomy of their own, or that your authors may be only speaking for themselves and similar ideologues.

I wholeheartedly agree with the authors that the 1996 Helms-Burton Act should be repealed, the trade embargo be lifted and Cubans would be better served by democratic governance. I disagree, however, with the imperialist implications of the article. President Bush’s August 7 statement that emphasized that “the people on the island of Cuba ought to decide” the future of their own nation, as well as the U.S. policy makers’ (even though this hardly was a representative group) report that recommends providing assistance only when requested, exemplify the best course of action for the island.

In his prophetic “Our America,” Jose Marti, the renowned Cuban poet and political activist, wrote that “to know one’s country and govern it with that knowledge is the only way to free it from tyranny.” Cubans must not be force-fed American ideas and political values. They should have control over the tempo and direction of their own transition towards democracy and, if they so choose, a fully liberalized free market. Re-opening trade with Cuba will only be successful if the White House treats the island and its people as sovereign and independent masters of their own political values and cultural identity.