- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Peter Kasperowicz recently spoke to Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, about U.S. farm trade with Havana.

Q: Supporters of the embargo say that if we keep trade and travel sanctions in place, we can negotiate them away at the proper time in return for pledges by Cuba to undertake democratic reforms. What's wrong with that plan?

A: Those who advocate negotiating with Castro have more faith in that tyrant than is warranted. Lifting trade and travel restricts is not a reward to [Cuban President Fidel] Castro, but rather a punishment. At present, Castro has a monopoly on communication with the Cuban people that lifting the travel restrictions will end. Lifting trade sanctions will undermine Castro's control over the Cuban economy.

Q: If President Bush ends up vetoing legislation that would temporarily ease enforcement of sanctions against Cuba, how would the Congress respond?

A: Signing the legislation would be both good policy and good politics, so I hope that the president signs it. If he chooses to veto, it is only a matter of time before he is faced with the same legislation with a great deal of embarrassment and wasted resources in the meantime. It is not a matter of if U.S.-Cuba policy changes, the question is simply when.

Q: What happens on Cuba if Democrats end up running both the House and Senate next year?

A: I do not see that having any effect on Cuba issues. Support for easing trade and travel restrictions in Congress is overwhelming and bipartisan.

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