Cuba in Transition: Options for U.S. Policy

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Cuba in Transition: Options for U.S. Policy

By Gillian Gunn
Twentieth Century Fund Paper, 1993
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This latest book from Gillian Gunn, best known for her previous work on Southern Africa and Cuban intervention in Angola, is very much on target and provides a very clear summary of the multifaceted U.S. relationship with Cuba. What is possible for U.S.-Cuban relations in the short run seems very limited according to Gunn's analysis. She argues that policy "can only create a context conducive to one or another outcome. In Cuba, the United States can make peaceful democratic transition or violent chaos, more or less likely." Gunn recommends what she calls a "squeeze-minus" approach, and she believes that a "squeeze-plus" policy, such as that advocated by some conservatives and the more vocal elements within the Cuban American community, is more likely to lead to a violent outcome. She advocates more communication, not less, leading to a policy aimed at normalizing ties.

Yet even if the Clinton administration chooses to face down domestic hardliners (which seems politically unlikely), as always it takes two to tango, and overall this book places too much emphasis on U.S. actions alone, and too little on developments within the Cuban regime. Whether the old leopard can change his spots is doubtful at this late date.

So we are left with Gunn's gloomy conclusion that following an explosion in Cuba, "uncontrolled immigration could escalate, drug interdiction would suffer, trade and development is impossible in the midst of war-torn chaos, democracy and human rights do not thrive where there is civil conflict." And all this, she adds, "90 miles from the United States."

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