A further welcome outbreak of realism from Richard Lugar, the senior Republican on the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. Lugar has admitted that the embargo has failed to break support for the Revolution among the Cuban people. He recommends the reversal of the additional, petty vindicative restrictions introduced by the Bush regime, increasing cooperation between the two governments, and allowing the Cubans to buy agricultural machinery on credit. However, he has stopped short of calling for an end to the embargo, though that is clearly the logic of his position.
As Cuba seeks to rebuild those areas affected by the hurricanes, the ability to buy agricultural machinery on credit would be particularly useful. The Cuban government in pursuing reforms is seeking ways to improve productivity and the purchasing power of its citizens, and the relaxation and ultimate ending of the embargo would be a key factor, as well as providing other countries the opportunity to benefit from trade with Cuba, and especially with its advanced medical research in areas such as vaccinations, without the prospect of being punished by the remaining superpower.
The fact that moves are coming from within the Republican as well as the Democratic Party bodes well for Obama’s stated policy of seeking to engage with countries that the US has previously tried to bully, invade, strangle, and starve into submission. We can only hope that this approach will continue not only towards Cuba, but also the DPRK and elsewhere. From an Irish point of view, it makes the continued pursuit of Seán Garland initiated in the dying days of the Bush regime look all the more the petty and ideologically-driven act of vindicativeness it was.