Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    American policy toward Cuba is `oddly benign’

    Posted on Thursday, 02.03.11

    American policy toward Cuba is `oddly benign’

    As a retired Foreign Service Officer with a special interest in Cuba, I write to comment on Carlos Saladrigas’ Jan. 21 Other Views article Good for the Cuban people. He says that U.S. sanctions against the regime “are more comprehensive than any other U.S. sanctions program in the world, even against America’s most virulent enemies” and that “U.S. policy toward Cuba undoubtedly ranks as the most prolonged foreign-policy failure in this nation’s history.”

    He is mistaken on both counts. Compare the administration’s progressive softening of the so-called on Cuba (which today imports more from the than any other country except its ally ) and its hands-off attitude toward other countries’ dealings with the regime with Washington’s efforts to rally the international community to impose meaningful sanctions on Iran.

    As to Cuba’s being our “most prolonged foreign-policy failure,” Saladrigas needs to visit his public library. The Israel-Palestine problem, to name just one unresolved issue, antedates the Castros by more than a decade, and the threat posed by North Korea has been around even longer. By Saladrigas’ formula, everyone who has sought to influence the Castros to relinquish power has “failed,” including the , whose policy of promoting democracy on the island through “engagement” has gone nowhere.

    As long as Cuba harbors criminals such as cop-killers wanted in New Jersey or those whom it decorated for shooting down civilian aircraft over international waters with the loss of American lives, or imprisons and then exiles against their will its citizens whose only “crime” was seeking of the press, or continues to hold without charges an American visitor () for giving a laptop and a cellphone to a Jewish friend, or for other outrages, current American policy toward Cuba seems oddly benign.

    EVERETT ELLIS BRIGGS, former U.S. ambassador to Panama, Honduras and Portugal, Norfolk, Conn.