Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Julia's Idea: Cuba, the U.S., and Haiti

"This terrible tragedy in Haiti presents a perfect opportunity for the U.S. and Cuba, both of whom already have extensive development (USAID) and medical missions (300+ Cuban doctors) in Haiti, to put politics aside for a moment and work together in providing rescue and relief."
The above quote is my own paraphrasing of part of a presentation I attended this evening by Julia Sweig at the Foreign Policy Association.

While Sweig was visiting the FPA to promote her new book, Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know, her comments focused more narrowly on the changing political reality in Cuba over the past 3 years (2006-2009) and how Washington has (and has not) successfully responded to and engaged Havana.

In response to my own question about the role and effectiveness of the USAID program in Cuba, Sweig was unequivocal (again, I'm paraphrasing):

"They should either defund it and close it down, or refocus it on some of the many goals that both nations have in common - drug interdiction, the environment, migration, etc. While recent reports indicate that the arrested contractor may have been working with good intentions, when our policy (covert or overt) is still regime change, these programs can only be counter-productive if our overall goal is productive engagement."

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