Cuban Group Endorses New Policy Toward Cuba

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

( - Sen. Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he will adopt a new policy toward Cuba, modeling it after "the successful policies that the Reagan-Bush administration used in the 1980s to undermine communism in Poland."

The Cuban American National Foundation applauded Helms's announcement. "We agree completely with Senator Helms that now is the time for renewed action," said CANF Chairman Jorge Mas.

"U.S. policy toward Cuba has been idle for eight years. As the Senator has noted, the prototype for success already exists in bringing freedom and democracy to 11 million suffering Cubans. Our goal is to make that vision a reality."

During a recent speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Helms proposed sending money and humanitarian aid to the Cuban people through channels outside the Castro government. He would use international pressure to isolate Castro, the last communist dictator in the hemisphere.

Mas said the Helms plan would "help give Cubans independence from the state, which now controls their lives by controlling their access to food, medicine, and other daily necessities."

Helms, in announcing his Cuban policy, noted that in the 1980s, the U.S. encouraged Poland's democratic transformation by isolating the communist regime in Warsaw, while at the same time actively lifting the isolation of the Polish people, supporting the democratic opposition and cultivating an emerging civil society with financial and other means of support. "We must do the same in Cuba," Helms said.

Helms also thanked the Cuban-Americans in Florida for giving George W. Bush the presidency, and he predicted that Bush will visit Cuba sometime during his term to "attend the inauguration of the new democratically elected president of Cuba."