Making Castro Dance to the Trade-Embargo Beat

The opinion-page column ``Trade With Cuba: Unlearning an Old Lesson,'' Oct. 20, attacks my amendment to restore the US trade embargo on Cuba to its pre-1975 status. My amendment passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support - including that of Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D) of Maine and Latin America expert Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) of Connecticut - because it is both sound policy and supported by the American people.

Most Americans know of the US trade embargo with Cuba. President Fidel Castro is involved in drug trafficking, he maintains an army equal to Brazil's, and he subverts democracies throughout the hemisphere.

Most Americans would be surprised to learn that since 1975 many US companies have done big business with Cuba. Since 1982, foreign subsidiaries of US companies have engaged in $1.5 billion of trade with Cuba. The United States currently has trade embargoes on North Korea, Vietnam, and Cambodia that apply to foreign subsidiaries of US companies. The embargo on Cuba is the only embargo on a communist country with a loophole for foreign subsidiaries.

It is unfortunate that the laws of other countries might conflict with US law. But US foreign policy cannot be held hostage to the business policies of our allies. We should work with our allies to resolve these legal conflicts, without assuming the US law is in error.

As communism crumbles around the world, Mr. Castro's regime stands almost alone as as throwback to the Stalinist era, complete with show trials, purges, censorship, and a horrendous human rights record. There will be no perestroika in Cuba unless economic pressure is maintained. The Cuban economy is near the breaking point and the USSR may not be in a position to save it. My amendment could finally convince Castro that Stalinism is a dead end in today's world. We must not let the Cuban people drift as the tide of freedom and democracy sweeps the globe. Connie Mack, Washington, United States Senator

Legalization and education The article ``Air War on Drugs Lags ... For Now,'' Oct. 27, says that the US is paying $4 million a week for air patrols on the southern border. Those patrols won't stop people with determination and skewed values from finding a way into the US where they can make millions.

The only way to beat drugs is to take away the incentive. The US is the only country that can do this, because its combination of wealth and drug appetite provides the market. We are causing anguish in every country from here to Argentina and around the world to Asia. We should stop the suffering by decriminalizing drugs.

A portion of the many billions of dollars we spend to fight drugs, and the revenue that would come from the controlled sale of drugs, could go into educating the public in values and ethics, developing adequate recreational programs and jobs for youth, and increasing the minimum wage. But the US will never contain drugs by the futile and exorbitant forces it now utilizes. Ralph W. Emerson, Tacoma, Wash.

Selling weapons We use the Monitor as a primary source in our American Institutions classes. The article ``Bush Pushing Tank Sale to Saudis,'' Oct. 23, elicited unanimous reaction from the entire student body:

``It isn't a matter of what [US] foreign trade policy should or should not be, as this is open to debate. We're talking here about whether it is right or wrong, morally, to sell weapons of immense destructive power to unpredictable countries simply because if we don't make the buck some other weaponsmaking country will. Selling weapons to anyone should be illegal.'' Lanny Cotler, Willits, Calif., Curiosity High School

It's Champion by a length The sidebar ``Whoa, Trigger! Washington Coins a Term,'' Oct. 25, proves that Roy Rogers is still a distant second to Gene Autry, who in some of our minds was the real king of the cowboys. After all, Roy Rogers never had a singing success to equal ``Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.''

Triggerization proves the point. Maybe it is the new term in our bureaucracy, but the government has been ``championing'' causes and issues throughout the world for many years. Mr. Autry's Champion set the precedent for all this horsing around with terms and was influential in Washington long before Roger's Trigger; or has he suffered dechampionization? Tim Laur, Bethesda, Md.

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