This will rattle a few dominoes on Calle Ocho:
Scanning a map of the world must give President Obama a sinking feeling as he contemplates the dismal state of troubled bilateral relationships his administration has sought to turn around. He would be smart to take a hard look at Cuba, where a major policy shift could yield a significant foreign policy success.
For the first time in more than 50 years, shifting politics in the United States and changing policies in Cuba make it politically feasible to re-establish formal diplomatic relations and dismantle the senseless embargo. The Castro regime has long blamed the embargo for its shortcomings, and has kept ordinary Cubans largely cut off from the world. Mr. Obama should seize this opportunity to end a long era of enmity and help a population that has suffered enormously since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961, two years after Fidel Castro assumed power.
The editorial goes on to note that the Cuban regime has begun, however awkwardly, to initiate some economic reforms and liberalize their travel restrictions. This is out of a practical need rather than any awakening of a sense of democracy: their ally in the region, Venezuela, is having its own political upheaval and may not be able to dole out the goodies.
The reaction to the end of the embargo is no longer a matter of political concern; most Americans agree — if they care — that the embargo should end, and the influence of the Cuban-American lobby here in Florida has been losing strength over the last couple of decades thanks to the realities of the actuarial tables. The younger generations are in favor of ending the embargo for practical reasons: they see a country that could be ripe for trade.
The remaining pro-embargo advocates say that as long as the Castro dictatorship remains in place, so should the embargo. Their record on human rights stinks and they have used the embargo as their excuse to keep a tight grip on both the economy and the people. Ending the embargo would be a reward for the regime, according to them. Yet the United States has been trading partners and economic supporters of regimes that are just as repressive and cruel to their people: China, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia are not exactly models of Jeffersonian democracy, and yet we buy and sell billions of dollars worth of goods with them.
The embargo against Cuba is as old and as rickety as the 1950’s American autos that chug along the streets of Havana, held together by spit and string. It’s time to send it to the junkyard.