"Many Question Embargo as Cubans Suffer" (Jan. 2) offered a balanced report. However, it omitted discussing the conundrum in our Cuban policy: How do we help the Cuban people without helping the Castro regime and perpetuating its hard-line stance against economic reforms?
When Cuba's economic crisis was most severe, in the early 1990s, the government was forced to undertake some limited economic reforms, including opening up the island to foreign investors and tourism. However, after the infusion of hard currency and remittances from Cuban Americans helped arrest the economic free fall, starting in 1996, the reform movement was stopped. As a result, the minuscule private sector of micro-enterprises has shrunk, 90% of the economy remains under state control and the regime has successfully ridden out the crisis. That is why Cuban leaders want the embargo lifted without conditions.
That is also why some courageous Cuban dissidents, at considerable personal risk, have publicly called for the embargo to remain in place.
of Political Science, UCLA
Your article on Cuba would move most reasonable and compassionate Americans to oppose the illogical U.S. sanctions against Cuba. Dealing with the embargo dilemma would also offer the U.S. a diplomatic opportunity to dramatically moderate our strident "do as Americans do or else" image among the international community. Clinging to the flawed sanctions only brings more doubt about the U.S. as a level-headed, compassionate society.
William K. Solberg
I sympathize with the Cuban people and indeed would like to someday visit Cuba. But I cannot subscribe to the logic that the United States' embargo is even partly responsible for the condition of the Cuban economy. Fidel Castro has worked very hard for 40 years to enrich himself and to get Cuba where it is today.
You write that other countries -- Japan, Canada, those in the European Union -- have open policies with Cuba for travel and trade. Why then are these countries not responsible for the economic troubles of Cuba?
While visiting Cuba for a month about a year ago, I found that many people were living in crowded apartments and that their food rations were often inadequate. However, every Cuban is guaranteed free medical and dental care, affordable housing and free education through college.
If a poor country like Cuba can do it, why can't we?
Lynn F. Kessler