Tuesday, May 20, 2008

John McCain On American Policy In The Western Hemisphere

Today, In Florida, John McCain Outlined His Vision For A Free Cuba. Less than 100 miles from the Florida coast, Cuba remains host to a regime that represses its people. John McCain believes we should not passively await the day the Cuban people can enjoy the blessings of freedom. Today, he outlined the policies necessary to advance liberty and prosperity in the hemisphere.

· On Cuban Independence Day, John McCain Paid Tribute To The Many Contributions Cuban Americans Have Made To This Country. Many Cuban Americans have ascended to the heights of American business, government and the arts. They have enriched and enlivened our country. For many, while their lives and work are in the United States, a bit of Cuba endures in their hearts.

John McCain Believes Cuba Is Destined To Be Free And Can Be An Important Ally In Advancing Democracy. Over 100 years ago, Cuba secured its independence, but the struggle for freedom and democracy continues. The Cuban people continue to live under tyranny. One day, America will again have warm relations with a Cuban government that represents the people's sovereign will and respects their fundamental human and political rights.

· The Castro Regime Continues To Enforce Strict Limits Against The Freedom Of The Cuban People. While news reports focus on the small changes taking place under Raul Castro, political prisoners still fill jails and millions continue to suffer under poverty and repression. The Castro regime enforces strict limits against freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement and speech. Last year, as many as 5,000 citizens served sentences for the vague crime of "dangerousness."

As President, John McCain Will Not Passively Await The Day The Cuban People Can Enjoy The Blessings Of Freedom And Democracy. It is in our national interest to support their aspirations and oppose those of a Castro regime that harbors fugitives from U.S. justice, expresses unrelenting hostility to America, and shoots down unarmed civilian aircraft. John McCain will press the Cuban regime to unconditionally release all political prisoners, legalize all political parties, labor unions and free media, and schedule internationally monitored elections. The embargo must stay in place.

· While Maintaining The Embargo, John McCain Will Adopt A Broader Approach To The Cuban People. John McCain will provide more material assistance and moral support to human rights activists, and increase Radio and TV Marti and other means to communicate directly to the Cuban people. The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute Cuban officials implicated in the murder of Americans, drug trafficking, and other crimes. John McCain will begin an active dialogue with our partners in the hemisphere and Europe to develop a plan for post-Castro Cuba.

John McCain Believes Sen. Obama's Policies Would Send The Worst Possible Signal To Cuba's Dictators. Just a few years ago, Sen. Obama had a very clear view on Cuba. In a questionnaire, Barack Obama stated: "I believe that normalization of relations with Cuba would help the oppressed and poverty-stricken Cuban people while setting the stage for a more democratic government once Castro inevitably leaves the scene." Now Sen. Obama has shifted positions and says he only favors easing the embargo, not lifting it. He also wants to sit down unconditionally for a presidential meeting with Raul Castro.

· In 2003, Sen. Obama Said He Supported The Normalization Of Relations With Cuba. "I believe that normalization of relations with Cuba would help the oppressed and poverty-stricken Cuban people while setting the stage for a more democratic government once Castro inevitably leaves the scene." (Lynn Sweet, "Obama's 2003 IVI-IPO Questionnaire May Be Getting Closer Scrutiny," Chicago Sun-Times' "Lynn Sweet's Blog," www.suntimes.com, 12/11/07)

· As A Presidential Candidate, Sen. Obama Has Backed Away From His Earlier Support For Normalized Relations With Cuba. "Democrat Barack Obama supported the 'normalization of relations with Cuba' When he was a U.S. Senate candidate in 2003, taking a more liberal position than he has espoused as a presidential candidate." (Beth Reinhard, "Candidates Toughen Talk On Cuba In S. Fla," The Miami Herald, 12/13/07)

· "In January 2004, Obama Said It Was Time 'To End The Embargo With Cuba' Because It Had 'Utterly Failed In The Effort To Overthrow Castro.'" ("Top Obama Flip-Flops," The Washington Post, 2/25/08)

· But In 2007, Sen. Obama Said He Supported The Cuban Embargo. "[Obama] said he would continue the trade embargo." (Beth Reinhard, "Obama Stresses 'Libertad,'" The Miami Herald, 8/26/07)

· Sen. Obama Voted In Favor Of Legislation To Curb Funding For Broadcasting Operations In Cuba. (H.R. 3057, CQ Vote #194: Rejected 33-66: R 2-53; D 30-13; I 1-0, 7/19/05, Obama Voted Yea)

Western Hemisphere Policy:

Latin America Is Increasingly Vital To American Fortunes. As we work with our hemispheric partners, we must be clear about the kind of leadership America seeks to provide. Instead of treating Latin America as a junior partner, we must treat it is a neighbor.

John McCain Will Forge A New Policy In The West Hemisphere. This policy will be founded on peace and security, shared prosperity, democracy, freedom, and mutual respect. We will work to prevent Venezuela and Bolivia from taking the same road to failure as Cuba. We will strengthen ties with key states like Brazil, Peru and Chile. We will make clear to all countries in the region that if they share a belief in freedom and openness, they can count on us as a friend. We will not abandon our partners to demagogues, drug lords and despair.

Expanding Trade Is Critical To American Policy Toward Latin America. Our longstanding bipartisan commitment to hemispheric prosperity is crumbling. We see this most vividly in Senators Obama's and Clinton's opposition to the free trade agreement with Colombia, a key American ally.

· The Colombia Free Trade Agreement Will Benefit American Workers And Consumers. The U.S. International Trade Administration estimates that over $1 billion in tariffs have been imposed on U.S. exports to Colombia since the FTA was signed, tariffs that would be eliminated once the agreement takes effect.

· The Agreement Has Profound Strategic Implications. Colombia is a beacon of hope in the region. Delaying approval of this Agreement will not create one American job or start one American business, but it will divide us from our Colombian partners when they are battling the FARC terrorists and their allied drug cartels. Failure will undercut America's standing with our allies in a critical region and across the world. Failure will set back the goal of deepening relations with our neighbors to the south and enhancing the stability, peace, and prosperity of our hemisphere.

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