CUBA AND TIGER BAY CLUB

04/24/03

Both debaters admitted that that they are probably as far apart on the issue of US Cuba relations as two people can be. This difference, however, provided an extreme example of the challenges those on both sides of the issue will face in any attempt to construct a unified Cuba policy.

Ralph Fernandez, a Cuba native who left with his parents as a young child, believes that Castro has not changed over the last several decades, and that he still poses a threat to his own people and the rest of the world. Fernandez accused Castro of being one of the world’s leading exporters of Anti-American sentiment and a leading advocate of violence against Americans. For this reason, he says, any business involving the US and Cuba cannot involve Cuba’s current leadership…

Patrick Mantega countered, saying that current trade and travel restrictions interfere with American freedoms, close important economic channels and paint an unfavorable picture of America to the rest of the world. Specifically, the lifting of the trade embargo, although it will benefit many, should be especially beneficial to the local economy…

Mantega also countered Fernandez’s stance on the terrorist nature of the Cuban Regime…

Many at the debate questioned why trade and travel restrictions should apply to Cuba when they do not apply to other nations the US has disagreements with. Fernandez replied to these questions by saying that Cuba’s proximity and Castro’s oppressive nature make the island nation particularly dangerous, and that any new money flowing into Cuba would not be used to benefit Cuban citizens…

Mantega disagreed, saying that Castro’s position is weakening, and the opening on Cuba to US goods and people will only cause a further erosion of his power…

When asked by one Tiger Bay member if there was anything the two could agree upon, both Mantega and Fernandez answered cautiously. Mantega admitted that change would take time, and that he was willing admit that policies would have to be implemented slowly. However, he said, a slow transition that looks to the future of Cuba is the best path…

Fernandez also agreed that bringing both sides of the issue together would take some time. He stressed again, however, that any position involving Castro would be unacceptable…

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It's the Blues Bros.

Ed, We will promote your show this Tuesday to all our early birds. Wackie