April 24, 2003


Harkin in Cuba Urges Castro to Free Dissidents (Anthony Boadle, 4/24/03, Reuters)
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin traveled to Cuba to promote sales of Iowa farm products, but ended his visit on Thursday calling on President Fidel Castro to release jailed dissidents.

The Iowa Democrat, an outspoken defender of human rights in other parts of the world, had planned his sales pitch trip to Cuba before the island's communist authorities arrested 75 pro-democratic opponents of Castro last month and handed them stiff sentences of up to 28 years in prison.

"Some said I should not come here under these circumstances, but a policy of isolation and the embargo of 42 years has not achieved any U.S. objectives nor made life better for the average Cuban citizen," Harkin said.

The senator also asked the Bush administration to make it clear that it has no plans for military action against Cuba, responding to Cuban fears that Washington might be aiming at a regime change in Cuba after Iraq. [...]

After meeting with dissidents, including the Gisela Delgado, whose husband Hector Palacios was handed a 25-year jail term, Harkin said "it is clear that the best course of action now is moderation not escalation, engagement not isolation."

At that meeting on Tuesday evening at the Hotel Nacional, the dissidents recognized the waiter serving drinks as one of the witnesses the government produced at Palacios' trial to testify that the dissident had met with U.S. legislators at the hotel.

Have the Democrats completely lost their minds? You've got Howard Dean expressing uncertainty over whether Iraqis are better off with Saddam gone and Tom Harkin trying to cut a deal for Iowa farmers while Castro cracks down even further than usual on dissent. He then goes further and seeks to rule out regime change. Even realizing that propping up Castro has been official Democrat policy since the Cuban Missile fiasco, this is really too much. Is the Party pro-dictator at this point? Posted by Orrin Judd at April 24, 2003 5:07 PM
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