“My administration will press the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions, and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections. The embargo must stay in place until these basic elements of democratic society are met. Maintaining the embargo is, however, just one element of a broader approach my administration would make to the people of Cuba. I would provide more material assistance and moral support to the courageous human rights activists who bravely defy the regime every day, and increase Radio and TV Marti and other means to communicate directly with the Cuban people. My Justice Department would vigorously prosecute Cuban officials implicated in the murder of Americans, drug trafficking, and other crimes. While our Cuba policy will not always be in accord with that of our hemispheric and European partners, my administration will begin an active dialogue with them to develop a plan for post-Castro Cuba, a plan that will spark rapid change and a new awakening in that country. The Cuban people have waited long enough.”
–Sen. John McCain, in a speech Tuesday on Cuban Independence Day.
“Since Raul Castro formally took power, he has announced some measures that have the potential to make improvements in the lives of the Cuban people, including easing democratic opening. The new authorities should take immediate steps to release political prisoners, permit free expression and assembly, and set the stage for open an regulations on the purchase of computers and cell phones. Unfortunately, these are merely incremental steps in a society that yearns for genuine freedoms and ad competitive elections.”
–Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), in a statement Tuesday.
We should look at loosening up remittances and travel restrictions for Cuban Americans so they can travel to the island, be with their families and send money there as a gesture of good faith as Fidel Castro is transitioning. I also think we should open direct talks with Cubans, without preconditions but with a whole lot of preparation. Unless they release political prisoners, start instituting free press, and other steps to democratize the island, we won’t lift the embargo. But we are looking to normalize the situation. That’s common sense. That’s the new approach to foreign policy that is needed, because the last eight years won’t work for the next president and John McCain keeps embracing policies that don’t work, and that is part of what this election will be all about.
–Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), in an interview with ABC’s World News Tonight, airing Tuesday evening.