The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville
Sat., November 18, 2006 - 12:41 AM
The Bush administration is interested in ending a decades-old trade embargo on Cuba.
But the condition - that Cuba adopt democratic reforms - isn't practical.
Fidel Castro is ill - The Associated Press quotes sources as speculating that he likely will die of inoperable stomach cancer sometime next year - and the new ruler, Raul Castro, appears to be approachable.
At this moment, however, Cuba's impoverished people need the economic benefits of trade more urgently than they need free elections.
Why not drop the embargo unconditionally?
Not only would that help the people, it might more effectively promote long-term U.S. interests than the current policy, which risks antagonizing Raul Castro in the early days of his rule.
At one time, the embargo may have made sense. That is long past.
In 1959, when Fidel Castro seized power, foreigners controlled 75 percent of the land, according to global exchange.org.
Castro, finding that intolerable, began nationalizing U.S. property. America responded with the embargo. Since then, the goals of the embargo have been to force Cuba to return property, to punish it for its alliance with the Soviets, or to force democratic reforms.
But, China still was Marxist, and it had a worse human rights record. Anyone remember Tiananmen Square? There was no trade embargo against China.
Vietnam was Marxist, and America had fought the longest war in its history. Yet, we trade with Vietnam.
U.S. interests would be served by forging coalitions, not twisting the arms of adversaries past.