Sanctions Scholar Responds to Sen. Lugar Report on U.S.-Cuba Relations


Sen. Richard Lugar’s report on the U.S.’s nearly five decades of failed policy toward Cuba is right on the mark, says Kroc professor George A. Lopez, the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., professor of peace studies at Notre Dame.  The report sharply criticizes the U.S.’s use of comprehensive sanctions toward Cuba and recommends an overhaul of U.S.-Cuba relations.

 “In Cuba, sanctions imposed by the U.S. have devastated the lives of ordinary people without bringing any political change in the country,” says Lopez, who has written five books and dozens of articles on economic sanctions.  “Senator Lugar has moved us beyond ideological debates to a pragmatic discussion of whether comprehensive sanctions actually work. In Cuba, they clearly have not, and the senator’s call for a recasting of policy should be heeded immediately.”

 The report released this week from Sen. Lugar (R-IN), the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, indicates that recent leadership changes in both the U.S. and Cuba create an opportunity to redefine their relationship. The report could have gone even further to address the harsh realities left by so many years of devastating embargoes, Lopez says.

 “These penalizing sanctions have skewed the production sectors of what’s left of the Cuban economy,” he says. “Some of the Cuban economy is now run by ‘sanctions busting’ criminal networks that do not disappear once sanctions end. Other sectors are dysfunctional due to sanctions. It is in the interest of security in the U.S.,Cuba, and the region to deal with these economic dislocations and illegal actors through analysis, planning, and coordinated action. And it must happen soon.”

Contact: George A. Lopez, (574) 631-6972,