Sunday, May 19, 2024

Comentarios From Maria: Hillary Clinton offers a clear vision toward progress in Cuba


A few weeks ago, the United States took a historic step toward normalizing our diplomatic relations with Cuba, and for the first time in 54 years the Cuban flag was hoisted in front of the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. This was, of course, much more than a symbolic gesture: it was a point of departure that set President Obama’s plan in motion to fully restore social, economic, and political ties between the United States and Cuba.

Despite this significant progress, we must not forget that the embargo we placed on Cuba in 1962 remains a major obstacle in our path to finally abandon the policy of isolationism that has characterized our relationship with Cuba since the Cold War. Only an act of Congress can change this, therefore on Friday, Hillary Clinton made an urgent appeal to Congress to lift the embargo, recognizing that it is the only logical way forward that would truly benefit the Cuban and American public.

A forgotten detail of the time Clinton served as Secretary of State is the primacy and urgency that she gave reassessing our relations with Latin America, including the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba. From the very beginning, Clinton understood that the best and only way to promote democratic principles in Cuba that would bring real and lasting change to the island would be through diplomacy. She was one of the primary architects of the first steps the U.S. took to normalize relations with Cuba in 2009 and again in 2011. And at the end of her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton once again urged the president to renew pressure in Congress to lift the embargo.

Clinton understood that genuine cooperation between both countries would only be possible if we divorced ourselves from our failed policy of isolationism that only managed to empower the Castro regime while harming and impoverishing the Cuban people. We must recognize that economic integration is an essential step toward enduring political cooperation, not only in Cuba but throughout Latin America. Lifting the embargo will not only benefit us financially, it will open doors to improved cooperation on other issues of mutual concern throughout the hemisphere, such as free trade, immigration, counternarcotics, and human rights.

During her speech last Friday in Florida regarding our relationship with Cuba, Clinton stood in stark contrast to a group of republican candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, who instead of proposing viable solutions; prefer to cling to a policy relic that has clearly failed in Cuba. Someone who truly understands the harsh reality that many Cubans confront would not impede progress or change in our relations with Cuba. Yet the insatiable need to seek attention many republican candidates display, leads them  to completely ignore the voices of the majority of the population that agrees with Clinton.

Former Secretary Clinton once again distinguished herself as a leader who offers the practical and forward-thinking solutions necessary to confront the many challenges we face as a nation. It is abundantly clear that she has the essential qualities of responsible leadership that equip her to promote and advance a progressive and fair agenda in Cuba, and globally.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic