Dodd answers questions in Spanish, Would End Cuba Embargo if Elected

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Sep 10 13:20:21 UTC 2007

Dodd Would End Cuba Embargo if Elected
By JESSICA GRESKO – 1 day ago

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Democrat Christopher Dodd pledged Saturday
that as president he would end a decades-old trade embargo with Cuba
and lift travel restrictions to the communist island. The Connecticut
senator also said he would open an embassy in Havana and shut down the
17-year-old TV Marti, a U.S. government-run station that broadcasts to
Cuba. "Other than the war in Iraq, no other American policy is more
broadly unpopular internationally," Dodd said of American policy
toward Cuba.

Dodd called the policy an "abject failure." As president, he said he
would seek a repeal of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which strengthened
the U.S. embargo against Cuba. He also said taxpayers should not spend
millions of dollars annually on TV Marti, which virtually no one in
Cuba sees, and that he would reform its companion, Radio Marti.
The senator, who trails better known rivals in the race for the
Democratic presidential nomination, said he would work to establish
U.S. mail service to Cuba. He added he would make staying in touch
with family on the island easier for Cuban-Americans, by allowing U.S.
companies to lower prices for phone calls there.

Dodd answered several questions in the Spanish, a language he honed
while serving in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He said he
has faith in the Cuban community, and in their willingness to take a
look at his policy, though Cuban-Americans generally oppose any
lifting of the trade embargo. Dodd sidestepped a question on whether
he would meet leaders like Cuba's Fidel Castro and Venezuela's Hugo
Chavez if elected. "Presidents don't run around and meet with people
automatically," Dodd said, without directly answering the question.

Meeting with leaders without preconditions is an issue Dodd's fellow
Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have
sparred over. Dodd said of his opponents' answers: "One was far too
rigid and one was far too simplistic." Alfredo Mesa, a spokesman for
the Cuban American National Foundation, a Miami-based political lobby,
said he wasn't surprised Dodd wanted to repeal the embargo with Cuba.
"His position has been consistently wrong," Mesa said, while adding
that Dodd recognized that changes in Cuba have to take place.

Mesa said the foundation also would disagree with shutting down TV
Marti. Alberto Mascaro, chief of staff for the Office of Cuba
Broadcasting, which oversees TV and Radio Marti, said he had no
comment. Dodd was in Florida for a Democratic debate Sunday sponsored
by the Spanish-language Univision Network at the University of Miami.
Because only Dodd and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are fluent in
Spanish, questions will be translated into English for the candidates.

Dodd joked it's a shame the debate won't be entirely in Spanish.

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