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The next president on Cuba

February 19, 2008 | 12:33 pm

I'd say this beats the "post-9/11 world" hands-down: the post-Fidel world. Add to the list another foreign policy item that will doubtless be a major focus of the next administration. So what are the candidates saying?

John McCain plays the tough guy and lays out an action list for Fidel Castro's brother Raul. Excerpt:

Yet freedom for the Cuban people is not yet at hand, and the Castro brothers clearly intend to maintain their grip on power. That is why we must 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.

Hillary Clinton touts her (what else) experience and promises to engage Cuba with other Latin American and European countries. By far, her tone is the most diplomatic. Excerpt:

As President, I will engage our partners in Latin America and Europe who have a strong stake in seeing a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba, and who want very much for the United States to play a constructive role to that end. The United States must pursue an active policy that does everything possible to advance the cause of freedom, democracy and opportunity in Cuba.

The events of the past three days, including elections in Pakistan and Kosovo's declaration of independence, are a vivid illustration of people around the world yearning for democracy and opportunity. We need a President with the experience to recognize and seize these opportunities to advance America’s values and interests around the world. I will be that President.

Barack Obama sounds every bit as tough as McCain and hopes to see U.S.-Cuba relations normalize. Excerpt:

Cuba's future should be determined by the Cuban people and not by an anti-democratic successor regime. The prompt release of all prisoners of conscience wrongly jailed for standing up for the basic freedoms too long denied to the Cuban people would mark an important break with the past. It's time for these heroes to be released.

If the Cuban leadership begins opening Cuba to meaningful democratic change, the United States must be prepared to begin taking steps to normalize relations and to ease the embargo of the last five decades. The freedom of the Cuban people is a cause that should bring the Americans together.

And out in right field, Mike Huckabee doesn't see anything changing until El Jefe is six feet under. So much for a culture of life. Complete statement (it's the shortest of the four):

The Cuban people deserve nothing less than free and fair elections which would provide the only hope for a prosperous and democratic Cuba. Until Fidel Castro is dead there can be no significant movement towards reform in Cuba.  Raul Castro has proven that he's as much a tyrant and dictator as his brother Fidel.  Simply providing more power to another dictator does nothing to promote freedom and democracy to the Cuban people.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the post-Fidel world by leaving a comment.

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