The Trump administration announced this week a turnaround on rules for Americans traveling to Cuba in retaliation for the island nation's role in "providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes," according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
President Barack Obama had eased restrictions on travel to the embargoed country in 2016. Since then hundreds of thousands of Americans have visited Cuba on what is known as "people to people" educational and cultural trips.
That's coming to an end. Visits will still be permitted under specific limited circumstances, but the brief period of almost unlimited tourism is over for now.
The White House wants to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of the Cuban government and military. Some may see this as appropriate. We can't agree.
For more than 50 years, the U.S. has enforced an embargo against Cuba to that end. And for more than 50 years it has failed to make any dent in the country's socialist regime or its activities.
There's a better way and it's been staring at us for decades.
If ever there were a time to drop the embargo and embrace full relations with Cuba, it's now. If we are serious about reforms in Cuba, the best way to build momentum is to show the people what they are missing. U.S. tourists and lots of U.S. dollars are great ways to do that. U.S. companies offering decent pay and opportunity is another. If we show the way, the Cuban people will most likely do the rest.
But we must get a foot in the door and allow time to work in our favor.
Fidel Castro is dead and his dream of an enduring socialist haven is nothing but smoke and mirrors. His legacy in Cuba is doomed to eventual failure. Right now there is opportunity in Cuba for U.S. influence to gain hold and guide Cuba into a democratic future. It won't happen overnight. But relying on the sanctions that have failed for nearly 60 years isn't going to make it happen.