WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A powerful Republican senator said Monday a draft report by GOP staff members questions the effectiveness of the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba.
Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said sanctions have failed to bring "democracy to the Cuban people."
In a letter accompanying the release of the report that mirrors some of its language, Lugar said, "Economic sanctions are a legitimate tool of U.S. foreign policy and they have sometimes achieved their aims, as in the case of apartheid in South Africa. After 47 years, however, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of 'bringing democracy to the Cuban people,' while it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further sacrifices from Cuba's impoverished population."
Lugar conceded the embargo "has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests."
The draft was filed after Republican committee staffers "met with government officials, foreign diplomats, members of the clergy, international media representatives, Cuban entrepreneurs and other Cuban citizens in a variety of informal settings outside the apparent presence of Cuban government officials," the report said.
Lugar said, "Despite uncertainty about Cuba's mid-term political future, it is clear that the recent leadership changes (transfer of power to Raul Castro from an ailing Fidel Castro) have created an opportunity for the United States to re-evaluate a complex relationship marked by misunderstanding, suspicion and open hostility."