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The next president — and I hope it’s Barack Obama — should at long last move beyond the Cold War and normalize relations with Cuba. This means using his authority to lift financial and travel restrictions that make it so difficult for Americans to travel there; working with Congress to end economic sanctions imposed by the legislature; and removing Cuba from the so-called terrorist list on which it clearly doesn’t belong.

I don’t pretend this will be easy, but in small ways and large, it’s time to move into the 21st century with Cuba. The U.S. and Cuba both need to abandon the exhausted rhetoric — of the anti-Castro old guard here and the anti-American old guard in Havana. Both need to create the conditions for a relationship more fitting to the times. We need to put people ahead of politics, abolish the barriers between our nations and let Americans and Cubans make up their own minds about each other.

Certainly, the U.S. and Cuba have real differences — we don’t agree about economic freedoms, or about how elections should be conducted; we don’t agree about the Middle East, Iran or any number of other foreign policy issues. But it’s time we talked about these differences, as well as about the things we agree on. We can only do that through contact and engagement.

There is a long list of opportunities and grievances that require the attention of both countries. For the U.S., freedom for imprisoned U.S. Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross is at the top of the list. For Cuba, recognition of the many economic and social changes it has undergone over the past two years would be a welcome sign.

I have traveled to Cuba many times since the 1970s, and have seen significant changes, including the opening of more political space. This has happened in spite of our policy. Indeed, some of the steps taken by the Cuban government — releasing political prisoners, expanding the private sector, opening up room for churches and nongovernmental groups, relaxing exit visas to allow Cubans to travel abroad more easily — were the sort of measures President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for with yet-unrealized suggestions of positive American response.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody

    Its time to move relations with Cuba into the 21st century.
    The Cold War is so 20th Century.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 07:11:41 AM PDT

  •  Florida will never allow that. (0+ / 0-)

    Course, if Republicans win, INVADING Cuba might be the next option.

    Seeing as that's their standard policy.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 07:13:58 AM PDT

    •  Cuban immigrants favored (0+ / 0-)

      That list of goodies, from Medicare to fast-track citizenship offered to immigrants from Cuba, documented OR undocumented -- don't think the immigrants from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere in Latin America and the West Indies don't know about it. And there are more of them than there are Cuban-Americans in Florida.

      So I wouldn't worry about a Florida election fought on the basis of treating all immigrants the same, and treating Cuba the same as Haiti or Jamaica or Panama. Bring it on!, as that fool said.

      Add the many workers in the cruise industry, at the airports, and in Florida's tourism industry generally. Treating Cuba as a normal country would stimulate travel, trade, profits, and employment in Florida.

  •  Thank you Rep. McGovern. About time. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, Woody

    There is already an awkward partnership of necessity to protect their coastlines bordering the Gulf Stream.  

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

    We need more of this and not undercover.

    Macca's Meatless Monday

    by VL Baker on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 07:14:53 AM PDT

  •  Agree 100%. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, Woody

    I've been in favor of normalizing relations with Cuba since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  One day, in the not very distant future, both Castro brothers will be gone.  It would make much more sense for the United States to have a policy of engagement with the Cuban government, if we hope to have any chance of influencing the direction that nation takes.

    Terror has no religion.
    لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الل

    by downsouth on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 07:25:48 AM PDT

  •  It is long past time to end the preferences for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    native, Woody

    Cubans, who enter the county illegally, and then are rewarded with a wet foot/dry foot policy, and after one year are allowed to apply for citizenship, are given food stamps, public  housing, cash assistance, social security, medicaid, medicare.

    Cubans are privileged immigrants - with all benefits waiting for them right from the get go. For non-Cuban immigrants - and those coming from "hispanic countries" life is tough with every possible disadvantage. So please do not compare Cubans in the USA to other "hispanic" immigrants, who are considered and treated as "alliens."
    The United States agreed to admit no less than 20,000 immigrants from Cuba annually,not including the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Since 1981, more than 500,000 Cubans have become permanent U.S. residents. (Or naturalized U.S. citizens.) On average, there have been about 45,000 new arrivals a year in recent years, Rivera's office said this week.
    In order to provide aid to recently arrived Cuban immigrants, the United States Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act in 1966. The Cuban Refugee Program provided more than $1.3 billion of direct financial assistance. They also were eligible for public assistance, Medicare, free English courses, scholarships, and low-interest college loans. Some banks even pioneered loans for exiles who did not have collateral or credit but received help in getting a business loan. These loans enabled many Cuban Americans to secure funds and start up their own businesses

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand? David Crosby.

    by allenjo on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 08:40:37 AM PDT

  •  The US government has always been hostile to (0+ / 0-)

    anything that resembles Socialism south of the border. I would even say pathologically hostile. The right-wing forces within the US that have been responsible for this continuing posture are, I would imagine, still very active. You'd need to deal with them some how or other.

    Even after the Castro brothers are gone, I doubt that Cuba would completely abandon its socialist structure, or its alliance with Chavez.

    "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

    by native on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 09:35:07 AM PDT

  •  Return to normalcy (0+ / 0-)

    We can get into a deep relationship with China -- with its slave-wage workers, its one child per family birth-control/abortion policy, and most recently threatening allies like Japan and iirc the Philippines over territorial claims to tiny islands and nearby potential oil fields, etc. The right wing is ok with all that.

    But with Cuba, which has done nothing really untoward for years, maybe decades, the right wings says we can't even allow cruise ships from Miami to dock in Havana Harbor.

    Time to get real. Let's treat Cuba like a normal country.

    Thank you, Congressman, for taking the lead on this issue.

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