Friday, January 9, 2009

More on The Cuba Wars

Hey everybody! I've just finished watching Daniel P. Erikson talk about his recent book, The Cuba Wars, through the C-Span Archives. Boy, do I love those archives.

Erikson's latest book has gotten great reviews, and even Marc Falcoff, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and "conservative" political analyst, has described the book as "one of the best written" on the subject of US-Cuba relations, "rich in detail" and "enormously fair-minded." Wow. Congrats to Erikson.

Please note that the video I'm talking about is from last November at a Brookings Institution event, but still relevant, worth watching and highly recommended for those who want to know more about US-Cuba relations. Participants included Marc Falcoff and Peter Hakim.

Another participant, Carlos Pascual, Brookings director of foreign policy and the event moderator, also had some great comments on US-Cuba relations which are not to be missed. In general, most of the participants of the event made very good arguments on why US policy towards Cuba should begin directing itself towards engagement, especially in efforts to create new contacts with the people of Cuba, within its social institutions and internal opposition.

Speaking on why this is necessary in the case of the internal opposition, Pascual says: "They need resources, they need contacts, they need support."

Marc Falcoff from AEI also seemed to agree. Falcoff mentioned that US policy limiting remittances to Cubans, which can become a vital source of financial support for some on the island, didn't make much sense. Falcoff had his doubts since 2004 when the restrictions on remittances where being debated. "Those remittances do relieve the situation for a lot of families and also create a situation for the government because it creates a whole class of Cubans who don't owe anything, or as much, to the Cuban government," said Falcoff in 2004.

For Falcoff, receiving money from abroad can help Cuban families become more independent from the government. But, this idea doesn't apply in all cases. At the Brookings event, Falcoff seemed to ponder the idea of cutting off US funding to Cuban dissidents as an act that could give them the necessary legitimacy of independence. Double wow.

The question then arises on how best to help the internal Cuban opposition, and at the same time help them preserve an image of independence from external influences.