JFP 11/18: Students force re-opening of unionized Honduran factory

Just Foreign Policy News
November 18, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) Student anti-sweatshop activists announced that Russell Athletic has to agree to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who lost their jobs when Russell closed their factory soon after the workers had unionized, the New York Times reports. In its agreement, not only did Russell agree to reinstate the dismissed workers and open a new plant in Honduras as a unionized factory, it also pledged not to fight unionization at its seven existing factories there. Union leaders in Honduras hailed the agreement. "For us, it was very important to receive the support of the universities," Moises Alvarado, president of the union at the closed plant in Choloma, said. "We are impressed by the social conscience of the students in the United States."

2) Retired General Wesley Clark urged members of Congress Tuesday to adopt an exit strategy for US forces in Afghanistan, the Washington Times reports. Clark said any troop increase should wait until a firm endgame has been establsihed for U.S. involvement in the country.

3) Only 44 percent of Americans see the war in Afghanistan as worth its costs, a new low in Post-ABC polling, the Washington Post reports. 52% said the war was "not worth fighting." Six in ten Democrats said that if Obama sent more U.S. troops, they prefer that he send fewer troops that would only train Afghan forces, rather than more troops who would also fight the Taliban.

4) Militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly diverging in their ultimate goal, the Washington Times reports. The Pakistanis have joined al Qaeda's campaign to attack Western targets and spread radical Islam while the Afghans want to rid their country of foreign troops but harbor no global ambitions, according to a number of prominent analysts. The split opens a route toward negotiations in Afghanistan, the Washington Times says.

Afghanistan
5) A 2008 survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan found that a typical household in Afghanistan pays about $100 a year in bribes in a country where more than half the population survives on less than $1 a day, the Los Angeles Times reports. Government salaries start at less than $100 a month. [Western officials say the cost of supporting a family is higher, so paying anyone with any kind of authority less than $100 a month is a pro-corruption policy - JFP.]

6) Oxfam and other groups published a study of Afghan opinion based on 700 surveys around the country, the Toronto Star reports. Seventy per cent of interviewees believe poverty is driving the conflict; 48 per cent blame the corruption of the Afghan government; and 36 per cent blame the Taliban. Eighteen per cent hold international forces responsible, and 17 per cent blame lack of world support.

Iran
7) The Iranian news agency IRNA says it has shown that Israeli claims of an Iranian weapons shipment to Hizbollah are a forgery, Press TV reports. IRNA says a photograph published in the Los Angeles Times bears the marking "Ministry of Sepah," a former name for the Defense Ministry twenty years ago. Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri also said the Israeli claims were fabricated.

Iraq
8) Kurdish lawmakers threatened to boycott the January election unless their demand for a greater share of parliamentary seats was met, the New York Times reports. Delay of the elections beyond their scheduled date of Jan. 21 could complicate the US military's plans for withdrawal from Iraq [and therefore also for escalation in Afghanistan - JFP.]

Brazil
9) Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Celos Amorim warned that relations between the United States and Latin America are deteriorating and called on President Obama to begin a dialogue with Venezuelan president Chavez, Mercopress reports. Amorim said the core issue of relations between the US and South America is the deployment of US forces in seven Colombian bases. "I believe the US should act with more frankness towards the region," Amorim said. "President Lula…[proposed] a meeting to address the issue but [Obama] did not accept," said Amorim.

Cuba
10) U.S. law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, with one exception: Cuba, write Senator Lugar and Rep. Berman in the Miami Herald. It's time to end this anachronistic ban, imposed during the height of the Cold War. On Thursday the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing examining the rationale for the travel ban.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Labor Fight Ends in Win for Students
Steven Greenhouse, New York Times, November 18, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/business/18labor.html

The anti-sweatshop movement at dozens of American universities, from Georgetown to U.C.L.A., has had plenty of idealism and energy, but not many victories. Until now.

The often raucous student movement announced on Tuesday that it had achieved its biggest victory by far. Its pressure tactics persuaded one of the nation's leading sportswear companies, Russell Athletic, to agree to rehire 1,200 workers in Honduras who lost their jobs when Russell closed their factory soon after the workers had unionized.

From the time Russell shut the factory last January, the anti-sweatshop coalition orchestrated a nationwide campaign against the company. Most important, the coalition, United Students Against Sweatshops, persuaded the administrations of Boston College, Columbia, Harvard, New York University, Stanford, Michigan, North Carolina and 89 other colleges and universities to sever or suspend their licensing agreements with Russell. The agreements - some yielding more than $1 million in sales - allowed Russell to put university logos on T-shirts, sweatshirts and fleeces.
[...]
"It's a very important breakthrough," said Mel Tenen, who oversees licensing agreements for the University of Miami, the first school to sever ties with Russell. "It's not often that a major licensee will take such a necessary and drastic step to correct the injustices that affected its workers. This paves the way for us to seriously consider reopening our agreement with Russell."

Other colleges are expected to do the same. Analysts say the college market occupies a significant part of Russell's business. Because Fruit of the Loom does not detail Russell's sales, it is not known how large a part.

In its agreement, not only did Russell agree to reinstate the dismissed workers and open a new plant in Honduras as a unionized factory, it also pledged not to fight unionization at its seven existing factories there.

Mike Powers, a Cornell official who is on the board of the Worker Rights Consortium, said Cornell had canceled its licensing agreement because it viewed Russell's closing of the Honduras factory as a flagrant violation of the university's code of conduct, which calls for honoring workers' freedom of association. He applauded Russell's agreement, which was reached with the consortium and union leaders in Honduras over the weekend. "This is a landmark event in the history of workers' rights and the codes of conduct that we expect our licensees to follow," Powers said. "My hat is off to Russell."
[...]
Union leaders in Honduras hailed the agreement, which would put hundreds of laid-off employees back to work in a country whose economy has been hit by a political crisis over who will lead it. "For us, it was very important to receive the support of the universities," Moises Alvarado, president of the union at the closed plant in Choloma, said by telephone on Tuesday. "We are impressed by the social conscience of the students in the United States."
[...]
Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, which has more than 170 universities as members, said: "This represents the maturation of the universities' codes of conduct. There's a recognition by the universities of their ability to influence the actions of important brands and change outcomes for the better." He said the agreement was "unprecedented" in terms of scope and size and in "the transformative impact it can have in one of the hardest regions of the world to win respect for workers' rights."
[...]

2) Retired Gen. Clark calls for exit strategy in Afghanistan
Tom LoBianco, Washington Times, November 17, 2009
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/17/retired-gen-clark-calls-exit-strategy-afghanistan/

Ret. Gen. Wesley K. Clark urged members of Congress Tuesday to adopt an exit strategy for American forces in Afghanistan.

Speaking to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Clark said American leaders should strengthen the national partnership with Pakistan - including sharing intelligence regarding al Qaeda operations - and promote economic development in Afghanistan to undercut the drug trade fueled by growing poppies.

Gen. Clark, a former Democratic presidential candidate, praised President Barack Obama for taking his time in developing an Afghanistan strategy and said that any troop increase should wait until a firm endgame has been establsihed for U.S. involvement in the country.
[...]

3) Obama faces uphill battle in selling Afghan war strategy
Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta, Washington Post, November 18, 2009
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/afghanistanpoll/index.html
[...]
A number that might have consequences: Only 44 percent of Americans see the war in Afghanistan as worth its costs, a new low in Post-ABC polling.

Whether the downward trend is reversed after the Obama administration's promised strategic revamp could be critical: Sagging public views of the war in Iraq plagued then-President George W. Bush for his entire second term, dragging his approval rating into record low territory.

A hurdle for Obama here is that there are now deep divisions about the size and mission for an additional U.S. troop commitment. Beyond the partisan split, there are wide gaps by age and gender, with younger adults and women more apt to favor a smaller deployment with a limited mission.

Q: All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, or not?

Worth fighting: 44% (Strongly: 30%): Not worth fighting: 52% (Strongly: 30%); No opinion: 4%

Q: If Obama decides to send more U.S. forces to Afghanistan, would you prefer that he send a smaller number of U.S. forces mainly to train the Afghan military; or that he send a larger number of U.S. forces to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban as well as to train the Afghan military?

All - Smaller number: 45%; Larger number: 46%; No change/pull out: 5%

Democrats - Smaller number: 61%; Larger number: 30%

Independents - Smaller number: 41%; Larger number: 48%

Republicans - Smaller number: 28%; Larger number: 65%
[...]

4) Afghan, Pakistani Taliban Diverge On Goals
Raza Khan, Washington Times, November 18, 2009
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/18/afghan-pakistani-taliban-diverge-on-goals/

Islamabad, Pakistan - Both go by the name "Taliban," but militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan are increasingly diverging in their ultimate goal. The Pakistanis have joined al Qaeda's campaign to attack Western targets and spread radical Islam while the Afghans want to rid their country of foreign troops but harbor no global ambitions, according to a number of prominent analysts.

The split potentially complicates U.S. strategy in the region while opening a route toward negotiations in Afghanistan. U.S. forces are battling a nationalistic Taliban in Afghanistan, but the internationally more ambitious Taliban, as well as al Qaeda, are located across the border in Pakistan, where the U.S. operates only with drones.

In a recent interview with a Pashto-language TV channel, Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Manan (also known as the Mullah Toor) condemned the Pakistani Taliban for targeting innocent civilians as "un-Islamic and wrong."

He also denied that al Qaeda influences the Afghan Taliban, a stark change from the 1990s when the Afghan group hosted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda training camps and became the base for the Sept. 11 attacks. White House National Security Adviser James L. Jones said last month that fewer than 100 al Qaeda members are left in Afghanistan and that most of al Qaeda is now based in Pakistan.

A U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan might make it easier for al Qaeda to re-establish itself in Afghanistan, but some analysts question whether al Qaeda would be welcome.

Ashraf Ali, a specialist on the Afghan Taliban movement, told The Washington Times that some former Taliban leaders, such as Afghanistan's former foreign minister, have been allowed to live freely in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to represent the Taliban in negotiations with other Afghan factions and potentially the U.S.

Ali noted that Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, the former foreign minister, also has stated that the Afghan Taliban does not share al Qaedas global agenda of terrorism and that his Taliban was not a threat to the world peace. "Afghan Taliban know well that it would be very difficult for the Americans to negotiate with them unless they clearly distance themselves from al Qaeda and its new allies, the Pakistani Taliban," Ali said.

Indeed, one of the key distinguishing factors between the two Talibans is that the Afghans insist they have a strictly local agenda of "liberating" their homeland, many analysts say. Beyond that, they would prefer to be left alone.

In contrast, the Pakistani Taliban has embraced al Qaeda's vision of pan-Islamic rule, and it has increasingly targeted the Pakistani state instead of helping its Afghan brethren. A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Muslim Khan, has said that his organization aims to establish a strict fundamentalist Islamic system, not only in Pakistan, but also throughout the world starting from South Asia.

Rifatullah Orakzai, a Peshawar-based analyst, said the Afghan Taliban is trying to create good will by showing its differences with al Qaeda. For example, Muttawakil recently stated "that if the Taliban came into power, girls would be allowed to pursue education in segregated institutions," Orakzai said.

The Afghan Taliban, he said, wants to show "that the religious militia is no longer as radical-minded as it had been during its rule [from 1996 to 2001]. Moreover, such a statement is also an attempt to distance Afghan Taliban from Pakistani Taliban," which destroyed more than 400 girls schools when militants controlled Pakistan's Swat valley earlier this year.

Not everyone accepts the premise of a complete rupture between the two Talibans. The U.S. has to be careful not to be "suckered in" by relatively moderate statements by former and current Afghan Taliban officials, said Bruce Riedel, a specialist on South Asia who headed a policy review of Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Obama administration last spring. "A lot of smoke is being thrown up to confuse people." Riedel said that such figures as Muttawakil "speak for no one but themselves."

Yet even Riedel recognizes growing tensions between the two camps. "The Pakistani Taliban are attacking the ISI, which threatens the Afghan Taliban's cozy relationship with the ISI," he said, referring to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

That is significant, because the ISI helped create and nurture the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s and ISI agents continue to maintain ties with Taliban factions in Afghanistan, Riedel said. By doing so, Pakistani intelligence can retain influence in Afghanistan, especially in the event of a U.S. withdrawal, he said.

Rahimullah Yusufzai, a leading Pakistani journalist and authority on Afghan affairs, said the Afghan Taliban wants to differentiate itself from the Pakistani branch so the two will no longer be "lumped together."

Yusufzai quoted an unnamed Afghan Taliban member as saying, "The Afghan Taliban are fighting Western forces that have occupied Afghanistan. It is jihad against non-Muslims and occupiers. We cannot say the same about the new groups of Taliban fighting in places outside Afghanistan."

Yusufzai said some Afghans were going so far as to ditch the name "Taliban," because of the growing stigma attached to it. He quoted a senior Afghan Taliban official as saying that "the term Taliban no longer represented the madrassa students who rose against the Afghan mujahedeen in the mid-1990s and challenged and defeated their corrupt and cruel commanders."
[...]

Afghanistan
5) Ridding Afghanistan of corruption will be no easy task
Entrenched cronyism, graft and ties to the drug trade have destroyed public confidence in Karzai's government. 'It's like a sickness,' a Kabul merchant says. 'Everyone is doing it.'
Alexandra Zavis, Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2009
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-corruption18-2009nov18,0,4729069.story

Kabul - Afghans have a name for the huge, gaudy mansions that have sprung up in Kabul's wealthy Sherpur neighborhood since 2001. They call them "poppy palaces." The cost of building one of these homes, which are adorned with sweeping terraces and ornate columns, can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many are owned by government officials whose formal salaries are a few hundred dollars a month.

To the capital's jaded residents, there are few more potent symbols of the corruption that permeates every level of Afghan society, from the traffic policemen who shake down motorists to top government officials and their relatives who are implicated in the opium trade.
[...]
But in the streets, bazaars and government offices, where almost every brush with authority is said to result in a bribe, few take the promises to tamp down corruption seriously. "It's like a sickness," merchant Hakimullah Zada said. "Everyone is doing it."

In these tough economic times, Zada said, there's one person he can count on to visit his tannery: a city inspector. The lanky municipal agent frowns disapprovingly when he finds Zada and five other leather workers soaking and pounding hides in the grimy Kabul River and demands his cut - the equivalent of about $40. "He says we are polluting the river," Zada says. "So we have to pay every day. Otherwise, he will report us to the municipality, and they will close down our shops."

A 2008 survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan found that a typical household pays about $100 a year in bribes in a country where more than half the population survives on less than $1 a day.

Government salaries start at less than $100 a month, and almost everything has its price: a business permit, police protection, even release from prison. When Zada was afraid of failing his high school exams, he handed his teacher an envelope stuffed with more than 1,500 Afghanis - about $30. He passed with flying colors.
[...]
Obama and other world leaders have told Karzai that they expect him to take concrete steps to back up his promises to fight corruption. Karzai counters that donor countries share responsibility for the problem because of poor management of the funds pouring in for development projects, a concern shared by U.N. officials.

Among the practices raising alarm is the so-called flipping of contracts, which are passed along from subcontractor to subcontractor. Each one takes a cut until there is little money left for the intended project. The result is often long construction delays and shoddy workmanship.
[...]
An investigation by the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption, set up more than a year ago to oversee the government's efforts to fight graft, found that on average it took 51 signatures to register a vehicle. Each signature had its price, for a total cost of about $400. "It is hardly surprising if Afghans prefer to bribe policemen on a daily basis to turn a blind eye to their unregistered vehicles," said Ershad Ahmadi, the bureau's British-educated deputy director.

Ahmadi said his office helped streamline the process to four or five steps, and it requires that payments be made directly to the bank, thereby reducing the opportunities for corruption. But without the minister of transportation's cooperation, he said, his team would have been powerless.

"We do not have the necessary powers and independence to fulfill our mandate," Ahmadi said. For a start, it was never given the legal authority to investigate or prosecute corruption - only to refer cases to law enforcement agencies, themselves part of the problem. "The police are corrupt. The prosecutors are corrupt. The judges are corrupt," Ahmadi said.
[...]

6) 'For Afghans, There Is No Refuge'
Olivia Ward, Toronto Star, November 18, 2009
http://www.thestar.com/news/world/afghanistan/article/727230--for-afghans-there-is-no-refuge

[...]
Their stories are detailed in a study, The Cost of War, published Tuesday by Oxfam, the Afghan Civil Society Forum, the Afghan Peace and Democracy Act and five other humanitarian groups that spent months travelling through the country's 14 provinces to collect the experiences of ordinary people.

It shows Afghans blame poverty and corruption more than the Taliban for the continuing conflict.

Seventy per cent of interviewees believe poverty is driving the conflict; 48 per cent blame the corruption of the Afghan government; and 36 per cent blame the Taliban. Eighteen per cent hold international forces responsible, and 17 per cent blame lack of world support. The study was based on 700 interviews with randomly selected participants.
[...]
During wars that began with the overthrow of president Daoud Khan in 1978 - and led to the Soviet invasion, a bloody turf war among militants, the Taliban takeover and the U.S.-led invasion that overthrew them - one in 10 Afghans was detained at least once, one in five was tortured, and three in four were forced to leave their homes.

The fighting left an overwhelming number of impoverished people, many without prospects. Since the slide in security in 2006, civilians have been increasingly caught in violence between the Taliban and international forces.
[...]

Iran
7) Israel gaffe reveals 'Iran ship photos' were forged
PressTV, Mon, 16 Nov 2009 11:05:33 GMT
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=111410&sectionid=351020101

After Israel released photos it said proved that a huge shipment of weapons for Hezbollah came from Tehran, Iranian news agencies publish evidence showing that the photos are forged.

Israeli naval sources recently claimed that they found a large cache of Iranian-made arms when they stormed a vessel near Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea. They claimed that the ship was heading for the Hezbollah resistance movement, either in Lebanon or Syria.

Iran instantly dismissed the claims, issuing a statement with which it condemned Israel's many acts of piracy in international waters. But the Israeli government persisted in its accusations, releasing what it claimed to be photos and documents in an effort to implicate the Iranian government in the matter.

The photos and documents were carried by a number of leading newspapers in the West, including The Los Angeles Times.

"The Israeli regime has made a fool of itself with regards to what it claims to be evidence that Iran was sending weapons to Hezbollah," IRNA news agency said on Monday. "Take a close look at the photos, one of which merely shows a couple of boxes labeled 'Ministry of Sepah' without providing corroborative evidence that they came from Iran, and you will see the huge gaffe committed by Israel," it added.

The article explained that Iran's Ministry of Sepah gave its place to the Defense Ministry more than twenty years ago. "So this begs the question of what the emblem of a nonexistent body was doing on the cargo?"
[...]
"Tel Aviv's baseless claims [about Iran providing Hezbollah with military] are evidently designed to justify another Israeli attack on Lebanon."
[...]
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri also dismissed the charges, questioning why the Israelis had failed to detain the crew, if the ship was supposedly carrying weapons. Berri said that while Hezbollah has the right to obtain arms from "anywhere in the world," it is pretty obvious that Israel made the claims to fudge the issue of its war crimes in Gaza.

Iraq
8) Kurdish Legislators Threaten Boycott Of Iraq Election
Marc Santora, New York Times, November 18, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/world/middleeast/18iraq.html

Baghdad - Only a week after Iraq's leaders celebrated the passage of an election law that kept the country on course to hold its first national elections in four years, Kurdish lawmakers threatened Tuesday to boycott the election unless their demand for a greater share of parliamentary seats was met.

Their demand came on the heels of a threat by the top Sunni politician in Iraq, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, to veto the election law unless Iraqi voters living outside Iraq were also given more seats in Parliament. The majority of Iraqis who fled the country after the American invasion and during the sectarian violence were Sunnis.

Lawmakers and representatives of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission met Tuesday to try to negotiate an agreement that would satisfy all parties. The election law must still be approved by Iraq's presidency council, and details, like the allocation of seats, can be amended before then.

Any delay of the elections beyond their scheduled date of Jan. 21 would not only be an international embarrassment but could complicate the American military's plans for withdrawal.

The passage of an election law was delayed 11 times, hung up largely on the question of representation of the ethnically mixed area of Kirkuk, an oil-rich region whose Kurdish population has grown substantially since the American invasion, after shrinking under years of persecution by the government of Saddam Hussein.

When the election law was passed on Nov. 8, it seemed as if those differences had been resolved. But as the details of the law and the allocation of seats in Parliament became clear, familiar divisions have once again surfaced.

"Unless the seat allocation formula is reconsidered in a just manner, the people of the Kurdistan region will be compelled to boycott the election," the Kurdistan regional president, Massoud Barzani, said in a statement.

Vice President Hashemi was equally forceful in his veto threat. Sunni politicians believe that the Shiite-led parties want to limit the representation of Iraqis living abroad because they are viewed as largely secular and Sunni.

Brazil
9) Brazil warns of "deterioration" of US relations with South America
Mercopress, Monday, November 16th 2009 - 8:32 am UTC
http://en.mercopress.com/2009/11/16/brazil-warns-of-deterioration-of-us-relations-with-south-america

Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister Celos Amorim warned that relations between United States and Latinamerica are deteriorating and called on President Barak Obama to begin a dialogue with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

"It's possible that when President Obama concentrates on the region's problems relations between United States and South America will have deteriorated, let's us hope it does not happen", said Amorim in a Sunday interview with Folha de Sao Paulo. "Maybe Presdient Obama is too absorbed with Iraq and Afghanistan and that impedes him to concentrate in other issues", added Amorim.

The Brazilian official insisted that the core issue of relations between the US and South America is the deployment of US forces in seven Colombian bases following on an agreement recently signed between the administration of President Obama and Colombian leader Alvaro Uribe. "I believe the US should act with more frankness towards the region. President Lula da Silva proposed President Obama a meeting to address the issue (of US personnel in Colombian bases) but he did not accept", said Amorim.

"These bases have triggered concern", because the agreement "contains ambiguities, not only does it refer to combating the drugs trade, it also mentions threats to peace and democracy", underlined Amorim who then asked, "who defines what are threats to democracy".
[...]

Cuba

10) Lift the ban - let Americans visit Cuba
Richard G. Lugar and Howard L. Berman, Miami Herald, Tue, Nov. 17, 2009
http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/other-views/story/1337127.html

[Lugar is ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Berman is chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.]

U.S. law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, friend or foe - with one exception: Cuba. It's time for us to scrap this anachronistic ban, imposed during one of the chilliest periods of the Cold War.

Legislation to abolish restrictions on travel to Cuba has been introduced in both chambers of Congress. And on Thursday the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing examining the rationale for the travel ban.

This ban has prevented contact between Cubans and ordinary Americans, who serve as ambassadors for the democratic values we hold dear. Such contact would help break Havana's chokehold on information about the outside world. And it would contribute to improving the image of the United States, particularly in Latin America, where the U.S. embargo on Cuba remains a centerpiece of anti-Washington grievances.

While opponents argue that repealing the travel ban would indicate approval of the Cuban human rights record, many human rights organizations - among them Freedom House and Human Rights Watch - have called for abolishing travel restrictions.
[...]
Our current approach has made any policy changes contingent on Havana, not U.S. interests, and it has left Washington an isolated bystander, watching events on the island unfold at a distance.

Finally, while travel restrictions are contrary to our foreign policy interests, they also impede the right of Americans to freedom of speech, association and to travel. Sometimes a travel ban may be necessary, but nothing about the Cuba situation today justifies such an infringement on our basic liberties.

The Obama administration has already made a move in the right direction by lifting restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans and opening the way for greater telecommunications links with the island. It is now time for the Congress to take the next step for all Americans.

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.

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The students has the right to speak up. Most especially in cases like this.

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