Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bush Calls for Continued Economic Pressure on Cuban Government

Financial Times - Bush Renews Call for Change in Cuba
Global Security Org – Cuba’s economy
Granma Internacional (Cuba) - Cuba Responde a Bush

US President George Bush reaffirmed the US commitment to the economic embargo on Cuba in a speech Wednesday. Bush’s timing appeared to be timed to coincide with the possible transition in power within the last year from Fidel to his brother Raul. Raul is believed to be running the day-to-day operations of the Cuban government because of Fidel’s health problems. In the speech, Bush also urged political dissidents in Cuba and the people themselves to revolt against the Cuban regime.

Bush’s message was directed in part at the international community and existing and potential trade partners of Cuba. Although a US statute attempts to discourage all countries from engaging in trade with Cuba by threatening actions and denial of entry into US markets, European countries such as Spain have been increasingly investing (often in a partner ownership structure with the Cuban government) in Cuban projects.

In Bush’s speech, he claimed that US trade restrictions against Cuba will continue because of the potential enriching effect on current political leaders if the embargo was loosened. Although the US tough stance against Cuba is supported by many Cubans living in the US, most countries take issue with the embargo. A United Nations symbolic vote on the US embargo with Cuba condemned it by 184 votes to 4 votes.

The Cuban economy, although growing in the single digits yearly, has experienced adverse effects from the global downturn in tourism (an increasingly significant portion of GDP), declining yields of the sugar industry, an increasing informal economy that is largely denominated in dollars instead of pesos, and decreases in the amount of remittances that Cubans living in the US can send to the island (also an increasingly significant portion of GDP).

The Cuban chancellor responded to Bush’s speech by rejecting the assertion that the Cuban people are dissatisfied with the regime, and noted that Bush’s statements were made under the flawed presumption that the Cuban people do not continue to support the Socialist revolution.


1. Do continued US economic sanctions against Cuba effect a greater probability of regime change?

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