U.S. & Cuba Relations: Past, Present, and Future

May 14, 2003


The Hon. Tim Roemer, Moderator
Mercatus Center

The Hon. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
The Hon. William Delahunt (D-MA) 
The Hon. Steve Rothman (D-NJ) 
The Hon. Christopher Smith (R-NJ)

Despite the policies of multiple U.S. Presidents and the fact that his economy is in shambles, Fidel Castro's grip on Cuba remains unchallenged. Although US policymakers agree that the establishment of a Cuban liberal political system is an important goal, there are multiple opinions over the best way to accomplish it.

The current trade embargo, now decades old, has succeeded in choking off American investment and tourism to the island nation.  Although many Cuban dissidents have historically championed trade restrictions, they seem to have failed at promoting economic change or political reform.

Now, many human rights groups are asking whether it is time to lift the embargo and allow American investment to flow into Cuba.  They argue that increased commerce might challenge Castro's authority and could facilitate the economic and political liberalization sought through the embargo.  While acknowledging that this has been moderately effective with US-China relations, critics contend that the economic growth created by lifting economic restrictions will be slow and will only empower the current government.  After all, if more trade was going to hurt the Cuban government, why would they be for it?

These tough questions about US-Cuba relations blur political lines, yet carry profound implications for the Cuban people as well as US multilateral relations.  Please join us for a special symposium on U.S.-Cuban relations as we consider these and other complicated issues