Cuba Si, Colombia No?

March 11, 2009

Cuba Si, Colombia No?


Foreign Relations: Congress may soften the embargo on communist Cuba soon. But with an authentic ally like Colombia still shut out of a free trade agreement that Congress promised, it sends a hideous message.

Read More: Latin America & Caribbean

The $410 billion Omnibus spending bill, now working its way through the Senate for a second time, contains a buried provision to ease U.S. economic sanctions on the island.

Cuban-Americans will be given special travel privileges to visit relatives on Cuba, and be able to send unlimited remittances. Restrictions on food and medicine sales will be dropped, and goods sent to Cuba may even qualify for U.S. trade credits.

The Castro dictatorship, which controls all economic activity in Cuba, would no doubt benefit handsomely from this. Fees skimmed from remittances would beef up state coffers by the billions, while trade credits will let Cuba buy our goods with our money. Spies, too, will have a field day with freer travel.

And in return for all this, Castro gives . . . nothing.

There may be arguments for softening the embargo, such as depriving the ruling Castro oligarchy of excuses. But none hold water so long as Colombia, a U.S. ally that has helped us out as few others have, continues to be denied the free trade treaty that Congress promised in 2005, 2006, and 2007. It’s downright obscene to reward Castro, an unremitting foe, while denying Colombia, a friend in a sea of free trade countries, the right to trade freely with us.

Let’s go over what Colombia has done for the U.S. and compare it to Cuba: Last year, Colombia put its own soldiers in harm’s way on a daring mission to rescue three American hostages held by terrorists in the jungle. They’re free now.

Colombia’s now preparing to send its own soldiers into Afghanistan, part of Obama’s plan to boost troops there, at a time when our supposedly more major allies in Europe are flatly refusing to go.

It has also provided massive intelligence help on drug traffickers and smugglers, allowed the U.S. embassy in Bogota to almost become a de facto base for military operations on its own territory and it has foiled many terrorist plots.

Colombia’s extradited more than 600 narcoterrorist thugs to the U.S., and is now helping Mexico in its monstrous war on drugs at a time when that war is spilling over our borders. Its reward: Colombia’s now in its third year of waiting for passage of a free trade treaty it bent over backwards to get. All Colombia wants is free trade.

Cuba, by contrast, urged Russia to unleash nuclear attacks on the U.S. in 1962 and again in 1981. It attempted to unleash a 9/11-style terror attack on Manhattan’s subways in 1962 before the plot was foiled. It sheltered terrorists and drug dealers, not to mention U.S. fugitives. It now conducts active spying operations against the U.S., plans Russian bases, and undermines the U.S. at the U.N.

Oh, and did we mention it kills and imprisons its own people by the thousands for the mere expression of opinion and conscience?

Why should Cuba be rewarded at a time when Congress’ treatment of the U.S.’ best allies shows the height of ingratitude and signals something is wrong with U.S. priorities? No normal nation shuns its friends and rewards its enemies.

And don’t think the rest of the world isn’t watching carefully and taking note.


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