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Lift the embargo, but only if Cuba reforms

To the editor: William M. LeoGrande writes like a football coach at halftime, laying out the other guy's weakness so he can beat him big on the second half. But U.S.-Cuba relations are no game, and LeoGrande forgets that President Obama took action on Cuba to score on another, more important front: the cause of Cuban freedom. ("Why real change in Cuba won't come easy or fast," Op-Ed, Dec. 26)

It is up to Congress, soon to have a Republican majority in both houses, to take steps to lift the embargo, but it should not do it, or should do it only gradually, until the Castro regime implements democratic reforms.

Recently, in reaction to both governments' announcements, a group of four important dissident groups inside Cuba demanded minimum conditions for lifting the U.S. economic embargo: first, unconditional release of all political prisoners (so far, only 53 of the estimated 10,000 currently in prison have been agreed upon); second, have Havana abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which it has signed; third, have the regime formally recognize civil society leaders that are at odds with the state; and finally, undertake constitutional reforms that lead eventually to free elections.

If Cuban President Raul Castro can abide by these rules, the game changes and we can all win big.

Enrico Mario Santí, Claremont

The writer is a professor of Hispanic studies at the University of Kentucky.

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