Peddling influence for
a communist state
Those who lobby for
Cuba's tyrant are foreign agents
Editorial, posted on Tue,
Oct. 05, 2004 in The
People who make deals with the devil shouldn't
be surprised when the bill comes due. U.S.
businesses that signed ''advocacy agreements''
with Cuba have no cause to complain about
the regime pressuring them to lobby for
lifting U.S. trade and travel sanctions
That's exactly what the agreements ask
them to do, even if it is legally nonbinding.
The U.S. signers, in turn, get to sell agricultural
goods and services to the regime. This is
a quid pro quo. U.S. firms may have thought
they were engaging in a business deal but,
for the regime, it's political influence
To woo anti-embargo support, Cuba deliberately
spread its spending among congressional
districts in dozens of U.S. states. Most
recently, it sent the message by cutting
purchases from U.S. companies with suspect
''commitment'' to Cuba's political agenda
and funneling buys to firms that support
it. This from a totalitarian regime that
has bankrupted its economy, stiffed its
creditors and now desperately wants the
United States to bail it out. No, the U.S.
government shouldn't remove sanctions on
trade with Cuba.
Recently one firm figured out that such
a political agreement isn't good for business.
Sysco Corp., the largest U.S. food-service
provider, canceled its deal to sell canned
tomatoes and other foods, though it had
already reaped $500,000. The company's headquarters
didn't like the contract's political language.
Likewise, Manatee County's port authority
on Florida's west coast rejected the political
clause and rescinded a similar agreement
signed by the port last year.
Others haven't seen the light. At least
four Congress members have signed similar
agreements. Why would any Congress member
agree to lobby on behalf of a communist
dictatorship that is on the U.S. list of
terrorist-supporting nations? U.S. Rep.
Loretta Sánchez, D-Calif., told The
Herald that part of her job is to help farmers
in her district.
She and others -- including Kansas Gov.
Kathleen Sebelius and groups such as the
Indiana Farm Bureau -- who have signed such
deals should be required to register as
agents of a foreign government. And Congress
should keep the trade embargo in place until
Cuba is free of tyranny.