Is it time to rethink U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba? That's the question Marc Lamont Hill discussed with academics and journalists on HuffPost Live on Monday.
Jorge Benitez of the Atlantic Council told Hill he supports the continuation of the American embargo against its southern neighbor, arguing that the U.S. shouldn't "send our U.S. dollars to support a dictator to oppress his own people.” Benitez added that he believes revenues from international trade with Cuba have “gone to line Castro’s pockets” instead of benefitting the Cuban people.
Challenging Benitez' assessment, Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations argued that the Cuban economy has actually opened up significantly since Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel, and that the U.S. could play an important role in supporting a more open economy if it considered trading with the island.
Sweig added that the U.S. government should support the “organic economic and family ties” that exist between the 10 percent of Cubans living in the U.S. and their counterparts on the island. Cuban Americans send $2 billion in remittances per year, she detailed, and although a cut of that goes to the government, “there are many more than two people on the island.”
The Nation’s Katrina Vanden Heuvel echoed Sweig’s argument that comparing Cuba today to Cuba of the past is like comparing “apples and oranges.” The editor brought up a conversation with former prominent Cuban politician Ricardo Alarcón, who questioned why the U.S. government could negotiate with the Taliban about the release of sergeant Bowe Bergdahl but still would not entertain dialogue with the Castros.
Watch the conversation above and head over to HuffPost Live for the full segment.