“U.S. Said to Plan Easing Rules for Travel to Cuba”

Updated
 
Michael Smerconish writes: Lost in the deluge of news reports about the Ground Zero mosque was this headline from yesterday’s New York Times: “U.S. Said to Plan Easing Rules for Travel to Cuba.” The Times’ Ginger Thompson cited administration aides who said that the White House is planning to loosen the strict rules governing Americans’ travel to Cuba. The goal: Foster more academic and cultural interaction. How? Make it easier for American educational and cultural missions to travel to Cuba. Allow them to stay longer. And, expand the list of American cities offering flights to and from the island. My take: It’s a step in the right direction, but nowhere near where we need to be. Eight years ago, I traveled to Cuba as a journalist, met with Fidel Castro at his Palacio de la Revolucion, and came home with a decided view on how best to oust him. To believe that communism in Cuba will die with Castro’s death – or the death of his brother Raul – is probably wishful thinking. As I witnessed, they have surrounded themselves with youthful staffers, and there is no reason to assume that a new generation of Cuban leadership will change course. For nearly 50 years, the United States has maintained an embargo on the island nation not far from Florida. The embargo has been an unqualified success in one respect: It has kept Castro in power. The embargo gave him a ready-made excuse – blame the Americans! – for all that has ailed the Cuban standard of living. We inoculated him from the sort of economic pressure at home that caused the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. Instead of fostering his ousting by giving the Cuban people a taste of the fruits of capitalism, we facilitated his continued governance.

It’s time to revise the U.S. tact. The Obama administration’s plans to promote more “people-to-people” interaction between Americans and Cubans is a step in the right direction. But ultimately, we must end the embargo, allow American businesses to expand their forays on the island, and permit Americans to vacation there as well. Only then will this Caribbean nation be rid of communism.

"U.S. Said to Plan Easing Rules for Travel to Cuba"

Updated