New York, January 6, 1999 - Having contained Cuban support for revolution in Latin America and perceiving signs of strong stirrings of a new civil society in Cuba, the United States should take steps to "contribute to rapid, peaceful, democratic transition in Cuba while safeguarding the vital interests of the United States." This policy conclusion and a set of specific actions were recommended by a Council-sponsored independent task force made up of both liberals and conservatives and chaired by Bernard W. Aronson and William D. Rogers.
The report’s recommendations go well beyond those announced by the Clinton Administration on Tuesday. Specific recommendations include: lifting limits on the number of visits Cuban-Americans can make to Cuba and on the amount of money they can legally send family members; allowing Cuban-Americans to claim tax exemptions for dependents living in Cuba; lifting restrictions on the sale of food and medicine and helping nonprofit organizations, religious groups, and individuals to assist the Cuban people; opening Cuba up to group and individual travel for cultural, religious, educational, humanitarian, and athletic purposes; easing restrictions on Cuban academics, artists, athletes and officials wishing to visit the United States; and opening American commercial activity on the island.
"This is the first time that liberals and conservatives have developed a consensus Cuba policy," said co-chair Rogers. "Everyone at the table agreed that the time has come to support peaceful change in Cuba." Ted Carpenter of the Cato Institute, Mark Falcoff of the American Enterprise Institute, Dan Fisk of Arizona State University, Phil Peters of the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, Susan Kaufmann Purcell of the Americas Society, and Peter Rodman of the Nixon Center all signed the report. Other signatories include: Mario Baeza of TCW/Latin America Partners, Rodolfo de la Garza of the University of Texas-Austin, Peter Hakim of the Inter-American Dialogue, and Franklin Knight of Johns Hopkins University and President of the Latin American Studies Association. Signatories of Council Task Force reports endorse the general policy thrust of the document, and do not necessarily endorse every specific recommendation. Dissents and additional views submitted by the members will be published when the final version of the report is released.
Walter Russell Mead, Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as staff director for the Task Force. "The key to the group’s success was the willingness of all the members to put old battles behind them and look for realistic, constructive new policy options," he said.
Co-chair Bernard W. Aronson attributed the consensus on the task force to the recognition "that U.S. policy toward Cuba should enter a new era. The Cold War is over; Cuban communism has been contained, and a still-fragile civil society is struggling toward the surface in Cuba. Liberals and conservatives on our panel agreed that the United States needs to support this civil society as a way of promoting a peaceful, democratic and rapid change on the island."