“Menendez’s Cuba stance is the one that works” By Amb. Otto J. Reich and John Suarez | The Star-Ledger,

The Star-Ledger, January 15, 2023


Menendez’s Cuba stance is the one that works | Letters

  • Published: Jan. 15, 2023, 3:49 p.m.

Letters to the Editor | The Star-Ledger

The Star-Ledger editorial “Menendez clings to damaging embargo on Cuba” expresses concern for the Cuban people’s plight, but for the wrong reason. It also mischaracterizes the position of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Cuba.

Over 120,000 Cubans fled to the United States through Central America during the 2014-2016 thaw in relations announced by then-President Barack Obama. During Obama’s opening to Cuba, the private sector shrank. Instead, the Cuban military’s control of the Cuban economy expanded. On Aug. 1, 2016, the Cuban military took over Old Havana from the City Historian’s Office and absorbed 20 hotels, 30 stores and over 25 restaurants into the military’s business wing, GAESA.

When President Donald Trump reintroduced restrictions, they targeted the Cuban military, and forced it into reforms that helped Cuban civilians, not the military. Restrictions on the island haven’t been tightened since 2019, but were loosened under President Joe Biden in May 2022.

There was no migration crisis regarding Cuba over the Trump administration’s four years when sanctions were tightened beginning in 2017.

Menendez’s position on Cuba is best reflected in a July 14, 2021, MSNBC interview: “This shouldn’t be a U.S.-Cuba issue. The international community should be listening to the cries of the Cuban people for basic freedoms as recognized by the universal declaration of human rights.”

Otto J. Reich, President, and John Suarez, Executive Director, Center for a Free Cuba, Falls Church, Va.