Like the 1950s Chevys and Fords plying the roads in Cuba, policies the United States imposed decades ago to isolate the island nation are relics. But while there is utility and joy in keeping classic cars running, it’s time to send the policies to the scrap heap.
President Barack Obama’s announcement Tuesday that he will remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism set naysayers grumbling. His bid for Congress to lift the economic embargo imposed back in 1961 also met predictable opposition. But both things ought to happen. It’s time to thaw relations with our neighbor, and Obama’s push to do that makes this a good time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s trip there next week.
Cuba has been on the terrorism list since 1982 for providing safe haven for Basque separatists, Colombian insurgents and some fugitives wanted in the United States. But the insurgency in Spain has faded away, rebels and the Colombian government are engaged in peace talks, and Cuba never provided weapons or paramilitary training to any terrorist groups, according to the U.S. Department of State. It’s time to drop the designation it shares with truly bad actors Syria, Sudan and Iran.
The trade embargo should go too. It’s an artifact of the Cold War. It never forced Fidel Castro’s communist regime to embrace democracy. It’s time to see whether engagement can succeed where isolation failed.
Cuomo will test the waters Monday and Tuesday with a trade mission. The quick turnaround suggests it will be just a meet-and-greet. But he’s right to open the door for New York companies in banking and finance, aviation, construction, building materials, agriculture and technology.
New York has history with Cuba. Fidel Castro honeymooned in New York City in 1948. When the newly minted leader made a tumultuous trip to the United States in 1960, he flew into New York’s Idlewild Airport and stayed at Harlem’s Theresa Hotel. And before its Communist revolution, Cuba was a regular vacation stop for New Yorkers .
It’s time to go for a better relationship with Cuba.