Through no fault of their own, the Cuban people have suffered. The bitter issues between the U.S. government and the Castro regime have done nothing except punish the people of Cuba. They are the true victims in this fight between nations, forced to live in a third-world economy devoid of the freedom and enjoyments that Americans take for granted.
With all that’s going on around the world—war in the Ukraine, the pandemic, Russia, China, Iran, the Middle East—it makes no sense to continue such failed and fruitless policy.
It’s time to end the embargo. Today. Now.
The United States would do well to become the big brother of our southern neighbor, and support and participate in the island’s future prosperity. With prosperity, we believe, will come democracy. These are fundamental rights that have long been denied to the 11 million citizens of Cuba.
To find out what a future Cuba may look like, we invited Gordon Mott, our former executive editor, to write an essay about the Cuba of the future. He has covered Cuba for the magazine for many years, and his essay shows a modern-day Cuba, where the people travel to and from the island with ease, where business thrives and where the people are free. The story begins on page 48.
The embargo isn’t the sole cause of Cuba’s problems—fault lies first and foremost in the hands of the Cuban government. But the embargo certainly hurts the Cuban people. It also is used by Cuba as an excuse for all that goes wrong in that nation.
The full embargo began 60 years ago, signed by President John F. Kennedy. Eleven U.S. presidents have followed him, a mixture of Republicans and Democrats. Some have simply ignored Cuba, some—most famously Barack Obama—have attempted change, but not a single one has gotten the Cuba issue right.
We saw a hint of change in the summer of 2021, as thousands of Cubans took to the streets in protest against the government. The United States spoke out in favor of the demonstrators: “The United States stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba,” said President Joe Biden. Many were arrested, and some were given prison sentences of six to 30 years.
The statement from the American government was mere lip service until May of this year, when the White House announced changes to Cuba policy, expanding commercial travel, reinstating group people-to-people visits, and bringing back the ability for Americans to send money to family members in Cuba.
Those moves are steps in the right direction, but they are far from enough. It’s time for the American government to end the failed, outdated and cruel policy of the embargo and to fully normalize relations with Cuba. And it’s time for the Cuban government to recognize the rights of its people to live free lives, ones where they can not only vote for their leaders but speak out without fear of reprisal.
The people of Cuba have suffered enough. The time for change is now.