Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Time for a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations

    Time for a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations
    Things have changed radically in the decades since the embargo was
    installed. We should lift it.
    By The Times editorial board
    February 16, 2014

    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

    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

    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.

    Source: Time for a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations – –,0,3354954.story#ixzz2thtLxItj