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realclearworld

New year, new faces in U.S.-Cuba policy

Guillermo Martinez in the Sun-Sentinel:

New year brings new faces to lead on U.S.-Cuba policy

To those who follow U.S.–Cuban relations closely, 2013 may be a box full of surprises. Who knows what is inside?

Cuban officials are probably delighted with the nomination of Sen. John Kerry, D.–Mass., to be Secretary of State.

Not since Jimmy Carter was president has Cuba had a friendlier politician in a position to help modify the long-standing, isolationist U.S. policy toward the Castro brothers' regime.

The opposite holds true as Sen. Bob Menéndez, D.-N.J., a staunch opponent of rapprochement toward the Communist regime, is likely to be elected chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a post vacated by Kerry as he accepts his Cabinet post.

Call Kerry and Menéndez the Ying and Yang of U.S. Cuba policy. Kerry will argue for lifting the U.S. embargo of the island, allowing all Americans to travel to the island and eliminating support for the pro-democracy movement in the island. Menéndez, born in New York to Cuban-American parents, will counter Kerry's every move as he is an advocate of a strong American policy on Cuba and Iran.

Who will win? President Barack Obama will decide. It will be his policy, not that of his secretary of state or of the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Each will plead his case. The president will dictate which road to take.

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