During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, President Obama promised to loosen American restrictions on travel to Cuba. This policy of appeasing the communist, anti-American government in Cuba was reaffirmed this week when several Democratic Representatives traveled to the island to meet with the aging dictator and his brother, who is technically now the nation’s leader.
But now is not the time to ease pressure on the oppressive government. After more than fifty years that saw terrible treatment of the Cuban people and forced those opposed to Castro to flee to the United States – often at great personal risk, after fifty years that took the world to the brink of Nuclear War, and affer fifty years of the most oppressive regimes in the Western Hemisphere, Castro is finally out of power. His brother remains, but, like Fidel, he is old – and far less charismatic. Soon enough, he too will pass into the history books, paving the way for the kind of Democratic reforms that the people of Cuba deserve.
If the United States were to loosen restrictions now, it would help to strengthen the Communist party in Cuba by improving the living situation of the Cuban people. The better off they are, the longer the Castro government will remain in power. The biggest risk is the creation of a kind of mini-China, were the people enjoy respectable economic freedom, but where they remain trapped under political tyrany that severely restricts the kinds of freedoms that all Americans value so highly.
The Cuban people live in terrible circumstances, but making nice with Castro and the other communists is not going to help their situation, and it would be a stain on the US for being friendly with a dictator who (unlike China or Saudi Arabia) does not hold a major role in the world that requires relations.