Opinion
Reading Los Angeles: Join The Times' new book club
Opinion Editorial
Editorial

Time for a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations

The United States and Cuba have been locked in the coldest of relationships for more than half a century. But a new poll suggests that the American people think it's time to warm things up a bit. We agree.

The poll, commissioned by the Washington-based Atlantic Council research group, found that 6 in 10 Americans favor normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. The numbers are stronger in Florida than in the nation as a whole, and support holds even among Latinos in that state, which is where the bulk of the Cuban expatriate community resides. The poll numbers, along with the findings of other experts, suggest that we may be witnessing a watershed change among the most trenchant critics of the Castro government that came into power in 1959.

It can be problematic to mix polls, but a Florida International University survey just three years ago found that 53% of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County opposed ending the 1962 embargo, even though a similar percentage believed the embargo had not been effective, and a majority supported easing restrictions on traveling to and investing in Cuba.

If Cuban Americans are indeed changing their hard-line views, it may be due to a shift in generations, experts say. Americans under age 25 have no personal memory of the Cold War, and for many young Cuban Americans, their parents' or grandparents' exodus are part of family history, not a formative personal experience. They tend not to view Fidel and Raul Castro — who combined have run the country for more than 50 years — as enemies, according to Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington. Among older Cubans, there is a sense that time is running out, and a desire to see old homesteads and long-missed friends and family.

There are real issues that need to be addressed between the U.S. and Cuba, including the continuing imprisonment of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor, and Cuba's human rights record. But there are sound political and economic reasons to support normalization. The world has changed radically since the nuclear-freighted tango between the United States and the Soviet Union ended more than 20 years ago. These days, the U.S.-Cuba rift puts us at odds with many of our hemispheric allies and perpetuates the image of the U.S. as an overbearing neighbor. Also, with the economic rise of the European Union, China and Brazil, it is in our national interest to remove a regional roadblock to economic cooperation.

And then there's the human dimension. The embargo has inflicted suffering on the Cuban people for generations and yet has notably failed to achieve its goal of ousting the Castros. It's time to lift it.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • A call for authentic democracy in Mexico
    A call for authentic democracy in Mexico

    There is finally a message of hope coming from south of the border. A powerful new social movement has emerged that could radically transform Mexico's corrupt political system. The disappearance and probable massacre of dozens of student activists by government officials in Iguala, Mexico, has...

  • Mexico reels, and the U.S. looks away
    Mexico reels, and the U.S. looks away

    The violent disappearance of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college in Guerrero state has caused a political earthquake the likes of which Mexico has not seen in generations — perhaps even since the revolution of 1910.

  • Another outdated U.S. policy toward Cuba: immigration

    Under a policy forged in the crucible of the Cold War, the U.S. government treats Cubans fleeing their country differently than it does all other immigrants. Essentially, the policy is: If you can get here, you can stay. But the world has changed since the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 took effect,...

  • Sainthood isn't enough for Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero
    Sainthood isn't enough for Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero

    When Pope Francis announced he was unblocking the canonization process for Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero, killed in 1980 by a death squad during his country's civil war, it was heartening and frustrating. Romero stood up to a murderous army on behalf of the poor in El Salvador. President Obama...

  • Obama's historic shift on Cuba
    Obama's historic shift on Cuba

    Citing a half-century of failed policy, President Obama on Wednesday announced that he intends to normalize relations with Cuba, mending a rupture that dates to the chilliest days of the Cold War. While the move to restore diplomatic ties should not be taken as support for the Castro regime's continuing...

  • Harvesting solutions: How to address the plight of farmworkers in Mexico
    Harvesting solutions: How to address the plight of farmworkers in Mexico

    Last month, the Los Angeles Times published "Product of Mexico," a four-part series on the abuse of workers on Mexican megafarms that export fruits and vegetables to the United States. The articles and photographs documented dangerous and squalid housing, children as young as 6 working in the fields...

  • Cuba off the U.S. terrorism list: Goodbye to a Cold War relic
    Cuba off the U.S. terrorism list: Goodbye to a Cold War relic

    History may ultimately view it as an incremental step in the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, but the Obama administration's decision this week to drop the island nation from the list of state sponsors of terrorism is a welcome and overdue move. The reality...

  • America needs to study the enemy within
    America needs to study the enemy within

    When I was living in Chile in 1968, my Chilean friends often explained to me proudly that their country was different from other Latin American countries. Chile had a long democratic tradition. Its armed forces had rarely and only briefly meddled in the government, and not at all since 1932. Chile...

Comments
Loading