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August 12th, 2009
Victory Is Your Duty
Live Chat with Aaron Brown: Should the Cuban Trade Embargo be Lifted?

Listen now:

In May of 2009, a bi-partisan group from the U.S. House of Representatives urged President Obama to lift the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba. They argued that it has failed to achieve its objective of regime change, and that the U.S. is missing out on major trading opportunities as countries from around the world sign up to do business with the island nation.

Critics counter that allowing trade and tourism to Cuba won’t make it more democratic. They point to Cuba’s poor labor practices and human rights record as a reason for keeping the embargo in place.

Is it time to end the trade embargo against Cuba or are there legitimate reasons for keeping it in place? Join WIDE ANGLE correspondent Aaron Brown on Blog Talk Radio as he moderates a discussion with representatives from both sides of the debate.

Phil Peters (left) is Vice President of the Lexington Institute, author of the blog The Cuban Triangle, and has testified before Congress to advocate for a relaxing of the trade embargo against Cuba.

Mauricio Claver-Carone (right) is a lobbyist for the anti-Castro U.S.-Cuba PAC, author of the blog Capitol Hill Cubans, and a fervent supporter of maintaining the current trade embargo.

We want to hear what you think. Call in and join the discussion LIVE, Thursday, August 13th at 11:00 a.m.  EST. The number to call is (718) 506-1351.

To send us your questions in advance, leave a comment below. You can also send your question via Twitter using #VictoryIsYourDuty. If you miss the radio show, visit our site after the debate to hear it online.

We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Donald Davis

    What are we to do, reward Castro for trying to setup a nuclear facility at our back door? Huh? I haven’t forgotten, have you?

  • yuri

    Dear Donald, are Cubans able to set up a nuclear facility at all? If America wants to bring American values to Cuba, the best way is to bring them – it’s obvious, though I do risk a bit of tautology.

  • Val prieto

    It is well known that Mr. Peters has been instrumental in organizing trips to Cuba for groups of US lawmakers and business entities through the Lexington Institute. The Lexington Institute, however, is primary a defense oriented entity – a quick perusal of their website links their primary links as “Defense – Education – Cuba – Postal – Logistics”. Whereas Cuba is the only country said institute apparently focuses on.

    Question 1: Why is that?

    Question 2: Who funds the Lexington Institute, and specifically, is the funding for Mr. Peter’s Cuba work sourced from entities with economic ties to Cuba, and would those source benefit monetarily from the lifting of the US trade Embargo?

  • El Niño Atómico

    Nobody seems to remember that the trade embargo was in retaliation for the confiscation of all US interests in Cuba. What are we supposed to do, forget about all that stolen wealth?

    Isn’t the so-called “trade embargo” a myth? Isn’t the US the main supplier of food and hard currency to Cuba?

    And if the so-called trade embargo hasn’t worked, why bother lifting it?

  • Carlos

    Americans can legally visit North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan. Meanwhile the majority of U.S. treasury notes are held by Communist China.

    Yet it is illegal to sip a mojito in Havana ?

  • victor valens

    Funds? Its the most talked about subject in Miami. If the blockade is removed,the anti-castro industry will lose all that federal taxpayer money.Already several groups are feeling the sting..Radio Marti for one. Its always about funds when it comes to Cuba.With the hardliners its never about the 11 million people on the Island getting “it” from both sides.Cuba needs to be open to all.No embargo,no problem.

  • Richard

    Yep,
    The mojito mix comes from the good ole USA. Why are you so desparate to legitimize the dictatorship its what I want to know and why is Cuba so different than South Africa with apartheid was, please enlighten me!

  • Luis Torres

    Why shpuld we grant credit to Cuba with our taxes when the dictatorship is bankrupt, owes over 30 billion dollars to different countries and has no intention of paying us back for anything we sell them?
    Also, what wll benefit the US if we negotiate with the communist regime?

  • Henry A

    Sadly the imbittered geriatrics in Miami will starve every single Cuban still on the island, as punishment for their mansion being taken 50 years ago.

    We buy most of our oil from despotic Saudi Arabia, and most of our toys from Communist China – yet we are supposed to let US interests be usurped by a loud cabal in South Florida? Cuba Si. Blockade No.

  • francisco

    this so call anticastro crow from miami act the same way as castro..here in miami you can’t have a independen opinion.cubans will never learn how to live in a democraci as we know in the unite state

  • Tony

    Questions for the panel:

    -Have you ever been to Cuba?

    -When was the last time you visited Cuba ?

    -Do you have any relatives living in Cuba now?

    -Were your family or relatives related to, or employed by, either Fidel Castro or Fulgencio Batista or their government officials?

    -How has the embargo been effective in bringing democracy to Cuba ?

    -How does restricting and limiting Americans right to travel support democratic change in Cuba ?

    -Why would you support restricting your fellow Americans their right to travel to Cuba, when you yourself have not visited the country yourself to evaluate the policy and the experience?

    -How does the political and economic isolation and humiliation of Cuba through the embargo serve our national American interests?

    -Don’t you think with the reality that there are 5 million Cubans living on the island who have relatives here in the United States, that through normal travel and basic trade the Cuban people will benefit and be inspired to change things on their own in Cuba ?

    -Why is it up to the United States to force Cuba to change into a democracy like us? What other countries do we do this to? What has been our track record and costs in imposing “regime change”? Isn’t this something that the Cuban people should be doing themselves? Isn’t it more powerful for the United States to be an influence for democracy in Cuba through our citizens, products, and services reaching the Cuban people while respecting their sovereignty as a foreign nation?

    -Do you think America should talk with their adversaries?

    -The Cuban government has stated publicly that it will arrest and jail any Cuban who receives money from the U.S. government for the purpose to subvert and overthrow their government. Isn’t U.S. government funding of dissidents in Cuba then tantamount to subjecting them to being arrested and jailed, the very thing we are complaining about?

    -We say we want political prisoners freed in Cuba – why won’t we negotiate with the Cuban government for their freedom then?

    -Cuba is a haven for a number of American fugitives from justice – why won’t we negotiate with the Cuban government to obtain their extradition?

  • Paul

    Tony’s questions above are excellent submissions for the debate between Peters and Claver-Clarone. I’ll add one of my own:

    Given that the majority of Americans support re-establishing diplomatic relations and ending the U.S. embargo towards Cuba[1], with recent polling of Cuban-Americans also suggesting these shared attitudes[2], and prominent dissidents inside Cuba also supporting the end of economic sanctions and travel restrictions[3], how can it still be morally justified to maintain such an isolationist policy in the face of such wide public opposition?

    [1]http://www.gallup.com/poll/117829/Americans-Steady-Backing-Friendlier-Cuba-Relations.aspx

    [2]http://www.fiu.edu/~ipor/cuba-t/1202_cuba_poll.pdf

    [3]http://mambiwatch.blogspot.com/2008/08/gop-platform-against-cuba.html

  • Kathy

    Yes, yes, yes! Finally this is being discussed. The embargo has only made the Castros more powerful. The embargo makes no sense and it needs to be lifted NOW.

  • Ana Sierra

    OK! Let’s face it. The embargo is the penalty that this small island nation and Castro must pay for claiming its sovereignty, aligning with the Soviets, pointing a missile(s) at the U.S, and foiling U.S. efforts to assassinate the damn dictator. It’s the price Cuba and Cubans, in Cuba and the U.S., must pay for not turning around and bending over to the Monroe Doctrine and subsequent U.S. policy toward Latin America. The U.S. had much to do with creating this monster, as they’ve had to do with so many dictators and terrorists in this world: Batista, Noriega, Pinochet, Saddam, Osama bin Laden, etc. They planted the seeds of hegemony, economic oppression, etc. in the developing countries. Allowed organized crime to set up comfortably abroad with the FBI giving the nod and ran rough shod over any democratic efforts.

    So, the question for Obama is if he is going to perpetuate this policy or not.

  • Jeanie Kilgour

    Actually, the trouble really started when the Cuban government decided to nationalize the sugar production and US sugar interests, which was making huge profits by imposing horrible work conditions on the Cuban labourers, went bonkers. As so often has happened in our history jingoistic cries and pseudo xenophobic charges were raised to cover the greed of American corporations. The Cuban people have been pawns in this whole charade of having a convenient Boogieman at our doorstep. What a convenient way to keep us taxpaying voters in line with industrial interests.

  • Postor1
  • John McAuliff

    Late to hearing this discussion, but a quick comment if others are just coming on too. Mauricio is afraid of travel because it would shatter his one-sided narrative about Cuba. Phil has actually been there recently and regularly and speaks for engagement in a complicated reality, and the inevitable evolutionary effect that would have on both countries.

    Mauricio is completely dishonest about how easy it is to go to Cuba legally. While tens of thousands of Americans travel there annually outside of the law but without any sanction, most people are afraid to do so.

    The first step is getting the President to end all restrictions on non-tourist travel, not just those affecting Cuban Americans. The easiest way to be heard is to use the web site of the White House Office of Public Engagement http://www.whitehouse.gov/ope/contact/

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development

  • Mercy Lopez

    Mauricio is to be commended for his comments which give an exact portrayal of the situation in Cuba. Phil, since you have traveled to Cuba…may I ask what embargo? In Cuba there is absolutely every conceivable product BUT only for foreigners or people with foreign currency. The Cuban government still buys (BUT DOES NOT PAY!) all types of products. You can find in the “special Cuban stores” the same products that you find in a US supermarket. Furthermore, hundreds of containers with food and medicine are shipped from the US to Cuba. But what the embargo does DO is TO NOT GIVE CREDIT to those criminal thugs so I CONGRATULATE the US Government for maintaining this so called “embargo”. Phil says that the Cuban people in the island wish to have an end to the embargo…Sir, have you asked yourself who wants that? Don’t you understand that this is the Castro’s “EXCUSE” for their failure economy?

    As relates to the travel…I also agree with Mauricio. Phil have you analyzed why is it that a person cannot buy a regular ticket via the airline directly like you can do when visiting other countries? There are – I believe 5 – “travel agencies” (to me they are Castro’s agencies) in the US where you can purchase the ticket for travel to Cuba. Why can’t you buy this ticket from a regular travel agency with whom you deal? Why can’t you purchase it online like you would any other ticket? BECAUSE THE CASTRO REGIME CONTROLS THIS TO GET EVERY $$$$ THEY CAN GET THEIR HANDS ON BUT DO NOT PASS IT ON TO THE CITIZENS OF CUBA.

    Additionally, how come so many critize the corrections system and the “criminals” are always offered such a good life in this country and do not care about the misery of political prisoners being tortured and living in inhumane conditions just 90 miles away?

    The sad story of Cuba will be well-known by the entire world when all this nightmare is over – this will be a very sad story just like the Holocaust.

    Those few who advocate for lifting the sanctions to Cuba, should also advocate with the Cuban Government to free the political prisoners, to give the citizens of Cuba the right for TRUE free elections, and to respect at least the minimal rights – human and civil – rights for the people of Cuba. This needs to be a two-way street and only THEN should the consideration of lifting sactions should be undertaken by this Land of Liberty!

    Thank you for allowing us the freedom of speech which is also denied to the Cuban people!

    Mercy Lopez

  • Noel Salazar
  • leaning fwd

    When do we take note and accept that lifting the embargoes would help out the Cubans as much as it would help out the Americans. Those who think it’s all about the Cuban-Missle Crisis understand very little about U.S. History; look at what sanctions did against the Japanese, ever wonder why we went to war against them in WW two ? We are upset and keep sanctions for what reasons-to bend other countries to our will? Politically we maintain this position, economically our U.S. corporations continue to make their money whether or not these countries are our enemies as well as our allies. Look at the situation in Iraq; because our sanctions the highest infant mortality rates in the world is what we caused due to the sanctions, then we decide to go to war against them on the basis of what?- they don’t accept our “free enterprise” ways , and our “Westernization,” NOT TERRORISM !!! When will we learn…there is McDonald’s and Pepsi, etc. in Communist China, Vietnam and anywhere else we think we shouldn’t be there ( a sidebar, Castro in Cuba was put their with U.S. tax dollars and CIA shenanigans). The politics keep us from growing and befriending our neighbors, while our corporations disregard the politics and continue to make capital-not to the benefit of the Staters(U.S citizens) but to the benefit of U.S. corporate pocketbooks. We are missing something here,people. You want a friendly global community lift all sanctions against Cuba so we can “All” share in their culture, language, and way of life the way we want our Americans to do. the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness are not only U.S. values but human values, let’s get with the program U.S.. We only have 400 years as our modern existence, many countries around the world have thousands more-learn from the rest of the world. Lift the Embargoes!!!

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