Time to end travel ban to Cuba

Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, issued the following statement about the Foreign Aid budget request for 2011 which proposes $20 million in wasteful spending on regime change programs for Cuba:"Unless it's okay for the United States government to waste money on foreign aid programs that don't work, the Obama administration should remove the $20 million in spending it has proposed on 'regime change' on Cuba. "Many activities funded by this program are illegal in Cuba, would certainly be illegal if Cuba conducted them in our country, and they have long histories of wasteful spending in the U.S. and hurting the intended beneficiaries in Cuba. Activities funded by this program recently landed a U.S. contractor in a Cuban prison. If you ever wanted to find a wasteful and counter-productive foreign aid program, this is it. "The paradox is this: not one of these wasteful programs can hold a candle to the one policy change that would pour American information and ideas into Cuba, and bring both countries together - namely, ending the travel ban that stops all Americans from visiting the island and engaging the Cuban people, a 'program' which would cost the taxpayers nothing." The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) is devoted to changing U.S. policy toward the countries of the Americas by basing our relations on mutual respect, fostering dialogue with those governments and movements with which U.S. policy is at odds, and recognizing positive trends in democracy and governance. For more information about CDA, visit our website. CDA's report, "9 Ways for US to Talk to Cuba and for Cuba to Talk to US," published last year, recommended ending counter-productive 'regime change' programs and relying instead on policies of engagement to advance America's interests and lead to normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

********** Published: February 5, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 42