"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
My congressman, Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat aligned with the Socialist International, has been a prominent critic on the left of US policy in Central America, and one of the leading spokesmen for lifting sanctions against Cuba.
He was among Bay State congressmen recently renewing their call for an end to the embargo despite the Cuban crackdown on dissidents.
In these remarks from 2001, he argued against providing US funding to internal dissidents in Cuba, and called for the normalization of relations between the countries. In 2000, he urged Clinton to visit Cuba.
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby wrote last year on McGovern and colleagues in the congressional Cuba Working Group:
[W]hy is it that so many critics of the administration's position expend far more energy denouncing the US embargo than calling for an end to Castro's repression? The abuse of Cuban dissenters doesn't seem to anger them nearly as much as the loss of business opportunities caused by the US ban. What is it that really motivates the anti-embargo lobby? A yen for liberty -- or for profits?
A few days before Bush's speech, 14 members of the congressional Cuba Working Group held a press conference to discuss their views of US policy toward Cuba. My transcript of the event runs to 12 pages of single-spaced type. It is a revealing document.
All 14 congressmen spoke, yet not one expressed outrage over the way Castro suffocates the Cuban people. Not one denounced the lack of free speech, or the elaborate network of government informers, or the misery that drives countless Cubans each year to risk death in an effort to escape Fidelismo. Oh, there was a passing reference now and then to democracy or human rights, but on the whole the Cuba Working Group seemed to get passionate only when the topic turned to the quantities of dried beans and chicken legs that Cuba is supposedly keen to import. Would 14 members of a South Africa Working Group in the 1980s have called a press conference and neglected to express their revulsion for apartheid?
At one point Representative James McGovern of Massachusetts saluted former President Jimmy Carter for "having the guts to go to Cuba, for standing before the Cuban government and speaking the truth about human rights." But when I asked McGovern the other day whether he was equally proud of Bush for speaking the truth about human rights, he pronounced himself "very disappointed with the president's speech. It was precisely the opposite of what the dissidents have asked for."
It is true that some Cuban dissidents call for an immediate end to the US embargo. But others call for it to remain in force until Castro leaves. And still others want what Bush wants -- an end to economic sanctions, but only in exchange for irrevocable democratic reform.
McGovern says that promotion of democracy and human rights is the very raison d'etre of the Cuba Working Group. Perhaps so. But while he and his colleagues persist in talking about the embargo, Bush is reminding the world that the real issue is freedom. The polestar of his Cuba policy is liberty, not chicken legs. When the Cuban people are free at last, they will not forget his steadfastness.