- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

If change is to come to Cuba, all parties - both on and off the island - must be intellectually honest and stop ignoring opposing views or attempting to quiet dissenting voices (” ‘Sunshine policy’ toward Cuba?” Opinion, Tuesday).

While attempting to justify maintaining the status quo in U.S. policy toward Cuba, writer Mauricio Claver-Carone conveniently omits the fact that the very pro-democracy leaders he describes in his column have called on the U.S. Congress to lift the ban on travel to the island. Guillermo Farinas, the brave democracy advocate who has been on a hunger strike for three months; Miriam Leiva, a co-founder of the Ladies in White; and Yoani Sanchez, the now-famous Cuban blogger, joined more than 70 other leading civil-society leaders in Cuba in signing a letter last month urging Congress to pass a bill that would lift the ban on travel by all Americans and facilitate agricultural exports to that country.

In the letter, these democracy advocates wrote, “We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government.”

An intellectually honest discussion of U.S. policy toward Cuba cannot ignore the fact that the island’s main democracy advocates - the principal victims of the Castro brothers’ repressive acts - have urged the U.S. Congress to break the isolation it has helped impose on the Cuban people. At the very least, Mr. Claver-Carone could continue to ignore these facts rather than mislead readers by suggesting that the democracy advocates he mentions in his piece support his strategy of maintaining the status quo.

By dismissing the opinions of “a new generation of South Koreans” and Cubans, proponents of the status quo fail to realize that those who are most directly affected by our policies deserve to be heard. After all, who more than those inside the Korean Peninsula and on the island of Cuba know the effects U.S. policy has on their governments and their people? It’s time we shed some sunshine on these hard facts.

TOMAS BILBAO

Executive director

Cuba Study Group

Washington