April 2,1998

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U.S. sanctions against Cuba outdated: Cattoni

by Jordan Zivitz

Political Science Professor Augusto Cattoni is skeptical of the recent loosening of U.S. sanctions against Cuba, which now permits the delivery of medication and emergency supplies from the U.S. to the impoverished island.

"I think it's a public relations move on the part of the United States," he said. "They haven't changed anything in a substantial manner. They just returned the situation to the way it was before 1996."

He added that if the Pope had not pleaded for understanding during his recent visit to Cuba, American sanctions would not have been relaxed.

Cattoni does not believe that the concessions signal the beginning of a benevolent relationship between the two countries. He said that while President Clinton may wish to adopt a new policy towards Cuba, Congress does not.

He considers the American trade embargo against Cuba, which was not affected by the recent concessions, to be outdated. "I think most countries would agree that the embargo doesn't mean anything, and should not be kept on," he said. "While the U.S. has diplomatic relations with China and many [similar] countries, because of their national interests, they single out Cuba."

Cattoni sees tremendous interest in Latin American studies on the part of Concordia students. His own courses average 70 students per term. In fact, he thinks Latin American studies should be given more emphasis in Canada.

"There's commonality between Canada and Latin America because both have suffered from U.S.
interference," he said. "There's a lot to be done in terms of strengthening contact."

The CBC asked Cattoni to comment on the allegations of sexual impropriety and perjury dogging President Bill Clinton. He told them the scandal is rooted in a right-wing attempt to destroy Clinton's presidency.

"I think this goes back to 1991 when he was a presidential candidate and was lenient on the issue of abortion. The conservatives cannot forgive him for that."

Clinton, dubbed "the Teflon president" by Cattoni, continues to enjoy a high level of public approval despite the allegations against him. Drawing a comparison between Richard Nixon's career-ending Watergate scandal and the charges of impropriety that have barely fazed Clinton, Cattoni pointed out that the former involved political crimes while the latter situation involves the president's private life.

Cattoni was born in Brazil, attended the equivalent of high school in France, and took his BA and an MA in international relations at the University of San Francisco.

He returned to Brazil to teach, but a chance meeting with a Concordia professor led to an invitation to come here, and he arrived in the summer of 1989 to teach Brazilian and Latin American politics.

He currently teaches Latin America in World Affairs, International Relations II and American Foreign Policy. Last fall Cattoni taught Latin American Politics, International Relations I and European Politics.

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