February 23, 2009 in City

Lugar calls for re-evaluating Cuba embargo

Anne Flaherty Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. policy of shunning communist Cuba by imposing a strict trade embargo has failed to prod the island nation toward democracy and should be re-evaluated, according to the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests,” Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., wrote in a report dated today.

President Barack Obama has promised a fresh look at the U.S. policy. He says he would be open to meeting with Raul Castro, who took over as Cuba’s president for his ailing brother, Fidel. Obama also supports easing limitations on the number of visits and the amount of money sent to Cuba by family members in the U.S.

But like his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama has said he believes the embargo provides important leverage with the country’s leaders.

Ending the embargo would require an act of Congress because lawmakers wrote key parts of the restrictions into law in 1992 and 1996.

The 1996 law, passed shortly after Cuban fighter jets shot down two planes operated by a Miami-based anti-Castro group, bars the United States from normalizing relations with Cuba as long as Fidel or Raul Castro is involved in the Cuban government.

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