WASHINGTON (November 4, 1998) -- A proposed bipartisan commission on U.S.-Cuba relations could be the catalyst needed to bring about positive change, according to the chairman of the Bishops' International Policy Committee.
In a letter to Sen. John W. Warner (R-VA), Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick commended the Senator and his colleagues for urging President Clinton to authorize the commission's establishment.
According the Archbishop McCarrick, the Bishops share the frustration of many government officials who hope for a sign that Cuba is willing to take seriously international concerns about basic freedoms and respect for human rights.
"But as they search in vain for such signs, untold numbers of our Cuban brothers and sisters continue to suffer intolerable deprivation and hardship, both spiritual and material," Archbishop McCarrick said. "As a society, we must find ways to change the present unacceptable status quo and move confidently toward a new policy. ... The creation of a national bipartisan commission could well prove the needed catalyst for moving us toward that goal."
As proposed, the commission would be designed to re-evaluate U.S. policy toward Cuba and its effectiveness in achieving its stated goals. In an October 13 letter to President Clinton, Sen. Warner said a comprehensive review of U.S. Cuban policy has not been done since 1960 when trade restrictions were first imposed. He said significant changes in the world, including Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in January, warrant a full review of U.S. policy.
In addition to Sen. Warner and 14 of his Senate colleagues, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Lawrence Eagleburger and several other foreign policy experts are recommending the establishment of a bipartisan commission, saying it could advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba.
"The Catholic Bishops of this country ... have long shared this view that our policy has the need, in the words of the Holy Father last January, 'to change, to change,'" said Archbishop McCarrick.
Text of Archbishop McCarrick's letter.