(CNSNews.com) - Former presidential candidate and conservative pundit Pat Buchanan, a staunch opponent of free trade agreements, said Wednesday that if he were sitting in the Congress he'd vote in favor of lifting trade and travel restrictions against Cuba because it is time for America to embark on a new policy toward the communist-run nation.
"The (embargo) policy worked for 30 years because it put a $5-billion dollar annual drain on the Soviet empire, and that was our adversary," said Buchanan during a news conference launching his new magazine. (See Story)
"The Soviet empire has collapsed and as the situation is new, I think we ought to act anew. I would vote with those in Congress who agree with lifting travel restrictions, lifting the sale of commodities that are non-strategic and allowing the transfer even by individuals of humanitarian aid going into Cuba," he said.
Buchanan thinks a change in U.S. policy is needed because it's the best way to "isolate Castro from the Cuban people."
"We need a policy that addresses our friendship with the Cuban people and isolates Castro, and I think this total [economic] embargo brings Castro closer to the Cuban people," he said.
But Buchanan said he would not give IMF (International Monetary Fund) loans or Export-Import bank loans to the Castro government because that "could just be foreign aid."
An opinion poll released last week found clear support for continuing the long-term economic embargo against Cuba.
Fifty-six percent of those polled said they support continuing the embargo, while 27 percent said the embargo should be lifted regardless of whether the Castro regime allows democratic reforms. Seventeen percent of those polled said they were unsure.
"Once again, this shows the difficulty the anti-embargo forces have in convincing Americans that the embargo should be lifted," said Robert Moran, vice president of Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates in a statement.
Fabrizio, McLaughlin and Associates conducted the poll of 1,200 Americans conducted between September 10-13. The survey has a margin of error of about three points.
President Bush has said he will not lift the embargo -- imposed in 1961 -- until the government of Fidel Castro regime honors human rights, releases political prisoners and holds free and fair elections.
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