Senate report urges US to re-evaluate Cuba relations

Other News Materials 23 February 2009 22:41 (UTC +04:00)

A Senate report released Monday urges the US government to take steps to improve ties with Cuba, including the potential easing of sanctions and resuming dialogue for cooperating in the fight against drugs, dpa reported.

The report determined that the restrictive US policies that have been in place for decades have fallen short of bringing democracy to the communist island and have harmed Washington's standing in Latin America.

"We must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances US interests," Senator Richard Lugar, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter attached to the report.

The recommendations were made by Republican staff who visited Cuba in January and concluded that travel and remittance limitations be lifted in accordance with a campaign pledge by President Barack Obama.

The report said the US government should consider expanding the sale of agricultural and medical goods to Cuba and explore partnerships to improve the island's energy infrastructure.

The United States has had strict sanctions on Cuba since the 1960s. Over the years, they have been eased by some presidents, only to see them reimposed. Former president George W Bush introduced limits on remittances and travel in 2003 as part of an effort to "hasten" the transition to democracy in Cuba, and set any conditions for improved relations with Washington on democratic reforms.

Expanding dialogue and cooperation in a step-by-step approach to build trust between the two countries would allow the US to continuously review developments in Cuba, while removing past conditions and reaching out to the new leadership in Cuba under Raul Castro following the retirement of his brother Fidel, the report said.

"It is clear that the recent leadership changes have created an opportunity for the United States to re-evaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion and open hostility," Lugar said.