CFR Cuba Task Force Urges Significant Changes in U.S. Policy

January 7, 2003

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November 29, 2000, Washington, D.C.– In a significant departure from legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president last month, a high-level task force of conservatives and liberals recommends the United States move quickly to clear away the policy underbrush and prepare for the next stage in U.S.-Cuban relations. The report sets forth a number of useful steps—short of lifting general economic sanctions and establishing diplomatic relations—that it says can and should be taken to prepare for the transition in bilateral relations and on the island itself.

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In July 2000 the House and Senate voted to end sanctions on food and medical sales to Cuba. The House also voted for a measure that would, in effect, end the travel ban. But the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act contains prohibitions that, by barring U.S. commercial financing, will all but proscribe food sales to Cuba. And by codifying travel regulations, the new law stands to dampen the possibility for the Executive branch to expand people-to-people initiatives.

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The blue ribbon task force, headed by former Assistant Secretaries of State for Inter-American Affairs Bernard W. Aronson and William D. Rogers, calls for new initiatives beyond recent congressional action. It recommends, for example: the sale of agricultural and medical products with commercial U.S. financing, and allowing travel to Cuba by all Americans.

The group, which included Alberto R. Coll of the Naval War College, Daniel Fisk of the Heritage Foundation, Wendy W. Luers of the Foundation for a Civil Society, Jay Mazur of UNITE and the AFL-CIO, Philip Peters of the Lexington Institute, and Alexander Watson of the Nature Conservancy, (full list attached), also recommends:

  • permitting limited American investment to support the Cuban private sector and increased American travel to Cuba;
  • resolving expropriation claims by licensing American claimants to negotiate settlements--directly with Cuba, including equity participation;
  • actively promoting international labor standards in Cuba;
  • supporting Cuban observer status in the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank;
  • beginning direct commercial flights and ferry services;
  • continuing counternarcotics cooperation
  • developing exchanges between the United States and Cuban military;
  • working with Cuba to support the Colombian peace process; and
  • promoting family reunification and safe and legal migration.
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"Despite recent congressional action," said Aronson and Rogers, "there is a growing bipartisan consensus that we are in a new era with the end of the Cold War and that new, creative U.S. policies need to be developed."

COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS MEMBERS AND OBSERVERS OF THE INDEPENDENT TASK FORCE ON U.S.-CUBAN RELATIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY

Co-Chairs:

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Bernard W. Aronson, ACON Investments

William D. Rogers, Arnold & Porter

Co-Project Directors:

Julia E. Sweig, Council on Foreign Relations

Walter Russell Mead, Council on Foreign Relations

Members:

Allen R. Adler, Allen R. Adler Enterprises

Mario L. Baeza, TCW/Latin America Partners, L.L.C.

Ted G. Carpenter, Cato Institute

Alberto Coll, Naval War College

Rodolfo O. de la Garza, University of Texas-Austin

Luly Duke, Fundación Amistad

Mark Falcoff, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

Daniel W. Fisk, The Heritage Foundation

Alan H. Fleischmann, Office of Lt. Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Craig Fuller, National Association of Chain Drugstores

Gary C. Hufbauer, Institute for International Economics

Adrian Karatnycky, Freedom House

Wendy W. Luers, The Foundation for a Civil Society

Jay Mazur, Union of Needletrades Industry & Textile Employees

Philip Peters, Lexington Institute

Susan K. Purcell, Americas Society

Peter W. Rodman, The Nixon Center

Micho F. Spring, BSMG Worldwide

Alexander F. Watson, The Nature Conservancy

Maria Werlau, ORBIS International

Peter Hakim, Inter-American Dialogue

Observers:

Fulton Armstrong, National Intelligence Council

Nadine Berg, U.S. House of Representatives

Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Department of State

Paula J. Dobriansky, Council on Foreign Relations

Ed H. Edens IV, Senate Armed Services Committee

Robert Filippone, Office of Senator Bob Graham

Brent Gibadlo, Office of Rep. Mark Sanford

Lee H. Hamilton, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Caryn Hollis, National Security Council

Alan Howard, Union of Needletrades Industry & Textile Employees

Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston

Gordon N. Lederman, Arnold & Porter

Taunya McLarty, Office of Senator John Ascroft

Rob Neal, Office of Rep. George Nethercutt

Brett O’Brien, Office of the House Democratic Leader Richard A. Gephardt

Janice O’Connell, Office of Senator Christopher Dodd

Thomas Quigley, United States Catholic Conference

Charles Shapiro, U.S. Department of State

Susan Snyder, U.S. Department of State

Marc A. Thiessen, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

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