[Marxism] Vicki Huddleston: "Former envoy stresses ties with Cuba"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri May 20 08:55:45 MDT 2005

(Fascinating interview with the former chief of the
US Interests Section in Havana, Mrs. Vicki Huddleston. 
Apparently she now thinks, and perhaps when she was 
carrying out these stupid policies she then thought, 
too, that they had zero prospects of success. Even 
she thinks the US ought to think about sending Posada 
to Venezuela where he's still today a wanted man. 
She thinks the blockade isn't working and she warns
Washington that Lula might prove helpful to Cuba.

(I nearly changed the subject line of this one to:
"Miss Vicki Regrets"...<g>. Those who wonder why we
spend so much time looking at the rightist media, a
good beginning is to find gems like these.)

The Washington Times


Former envoy stresses ties with Cuba

By Benjamin P. Tyree

Published May 20, 2005

United States policy on Cuba should return to a course once followed by
former Presidents Bush and Clinton, according to a recent past U.S. envoy to

    Vicki Huddleston, former chief of mission of the U.S. Interests Section
in Havana, talked with reporters at a breakfast hosted by Lexington
Institute's Philip Peters last Wednesday. She said the policy of more open
contacts fostered by former President Bush, the current president's father,
'helped the Cuban people materially and improved Cuban behavior abroad.' She
said, 'This is basically the policy that worked in Eastern Europe. So why
not in Cuba as well?'

    When the more open policy was in effect, she said, 'Cuba withdrew forces
from Africa and did not interfere in Central American electoral processes,'
such as the election lost by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

    Mrs. Huddleston was deputy and then director of the State Department's
Cuban affairs office from 1989-1993 during the elder Mr. Bush's term in the
White House.

    She said 'contact with the Cuban people is essential' and American
policy should return to 'supporting private groups, helping churches and
other people-to-people contacts.' In this way, 'the U.S. can help foster
civic culture in Cuba,' she said.

    'Casualties of the current policy of tightened sanctions include the
Cuban artists,' she said. In previous administrations, painters, writers and
musicians -- often guided by a muse at odds with Marxist dogma -- not only
flourished on the island but traveled outside.

    For starters, she says the travel ban 'should be lifted but the best we
can expect is to return to the policies in effect during the later half of
President Clinton's second term and the first 18 months of George W. Bush's
first term.' An easing should be 'guided by political realities rather than
going the whole nine yards' of a full opening. Under the former policy,
Cuban-Americans had the freedom to travel to the island. At present, they
are limited to one trip every three years. Other visits are limited and
restricted to those licensed to travel there for special purposes. Polling
consistently shows the tightened policy is widely unpopular in the
Cuban-American community.

    Cuba has rejected administration talk of a quid-pro-quo relaxation of
U.S. restrictions in return for Cuban domestic political reforms as ?another
Platt Amendment.' Mrs. Huddleston agreed 'It is a Platt Amendment,'
referring to a U.S. law officially dropped in the mid-1930s that previously
allowed direct U.S. intervention in Cuba's internal affairs.

    'There is a real risk to U.S. security if nearby Caribbean nations like
Cuba and Haiti are allowed to become failed states,' Mrs. Huddleston warned.
This could produce not only migration problems but a fertile field for
terrorists, she said.

    Conversation last week quickly turned to a 77-year-old anti-Castro
activist arrested in Miami this Tuesday. Luis Posada Carriles is accused in
the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Mrs. Huddleston
said 'allegations against Posada fit the description of terrorism' and
tolerating him here would 'undercut our strong anti-terror position

    If America lacks jurisdiction or evidence to try him, Mrs. Huddleston
said, 'We should consider returning him for trial in Venezuela with
guarantees that he would not be sent to Cuba, where it is unlikely he could
get a fair trial.' Otherwise another venue should be sought.

    On ABC TV's 'Nightline' Tuesday, Cuban National Assembly President
Ricardo Alarcon said Venezuela has sought Mr. Posada's extradition 'for 20
years, which long predates the government of [Fidel Castro's friend] Hugo

    The U.S., which in recent years 're-installed and then removed a head of
state in Haiti, has a real moral obligation there,' Mrs. Huddleston said.
She was deputy chief of mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from 1993-95,
during deployment of the Multinational Force that reinstalled President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He was later pulled out again, with U.S. help.

    She questioned the notion seemingly held by some 'on the hard right'
that the United States can 'impose democracy' in Cuba. She also noted the
tightened U.S. Cuban sanctions have been somewhat thwarted by Venezuela's
Mr. Chavez, who supplies Cuba with oil in a barter arrangement.

    'Since Venezuela is also a major supplier of oil to the United States'
through its outlet Citgo, 'the U.S. indirectly subsidizes Mr. Castro'
because of the fungibility of oil and money.

    Any very direct U.S. challenge to the Castro government would meet
strong resistance from all Latin America, she agreed. Further, Mr. Castro
may have another potential card up his sleeve in Brazil's new leftist
President Lula da Silva.

    Mrs. Huddleston questioned the wisdom of U.S. commercial television
blackouts of broadcasts to Cuba and advocated providing Cubans more radios
and increased Internet access.

    Mrs. Huddleston retired from the Foreign Service in late January. Her
most recent ambassadorial posting was in the northwest African nation of
Mali. And she was a spring fellow at Kennedy School's Institute of Politics
at Harvard.

    Anyone wanting further insight from our erstwhile woman in Havana
needn't wait long. Her next major project is a book on Cuba and U.S.-Cuban

    Benjamin P. Tyree is deputy editor of the Commentary pages of The
Washington Times.

Copyright C 2005 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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