In 1996, spurred by an appetite for revenge, American lawmakers passed a bill spelling out a strategy to overthrow the government in Havana and “assist the Cuban people in regaining their freedom.” The Helms-Burton Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton shortly after Cuba shot down two small civilian American planes, has served as the foundation for the $264 million the United States has spent in the last 18 years trying to instigate democratic reforms on the island.

Far from accomplishing that goal, the initiatives have been largely counterproductive. The funds have been a magnet for charlatans, swindlers and good intentions gone awry. The stealthy programs have increased hostility between the two nations, provided Cuba with a trove of propaganda fodder and stymied opportunities to cooperate in areas of mutual interest.

The United States should strive to promote greater freedoms on the island of 11 million people and loosen the grip of one of the most repressive governments in the world. But it must chart a new approach informed by the lessons of nearly two decades of failed efforts to destabilize the Castro regime...



Recent Articles

Date Title
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Editorial Opinion, The New York Times
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11/12/14 Senators: We're Optimistic Cuba to Free Contractor
AP, ABC News
11/12/14 The new realities of running a business in Cuba
Jonathan Wolfe, Cristian Science Monitor
11/11/14 New York Times goes on a Cuban crusade
Thomas Sparrow, BBC
11/10/14 Aid agency rules would ban risky undercover work
Desmond Butler and Jack Gillum, AP
11/10/14 Current Record
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Mary O'Grady, The Wall Street Journal
11/4/14 Cuban Government and USAID, a Fraught Relationship
Yoani Sanchez, The Huffington Post
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Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez, AP
11/3/14 A Prisoner Swap With Cuba
Editorial Opinion, The New York Times