01 May 2009

A Better Way to Approach Cuba

From the Washington Post, Julie Sweig,

The two nations could expand their monthly [Guantanamo] gate talks beyond the issue of perimeter security to include drug trafficking, human smuggling, refugee processing and disaster preparedness and relief. Such confidence-building talks could lead to deeper cooperation, even on human rights and political prisoners.

Next, the United States should invite those same Cuban officers to cross the gates and tour Guantanamo, in part to view evidence of the Navy's stewardship of the natural environment -- a dimension of the American presence that is bound to challenge Cuban preconceptions. Third, hundreds of U.S. and international journalists, lawyers and refugee experts have visited the base in the past few years. Surely we can extend the same courtesy to their Cuban peers.

Finally, the Navy could invite public-health professionals from Cuba, the United States and other countries in the region to the base to develop strategies for cooperation. Proposals to convert the base to a public health research and treatment center date back to the Kennedy White House and have been viewed favorably by Havana ever since, especially in light of Cuba's world-class expertise in infectious and tropical diseases.

We can talk trade later. Right now we need to correct our moral footing, and the best way to start that process is by stepping off the island.

h/t Foreign Policy's excellent Passport blog.