Cuba Today

November 3, 2003

November 3, 2003

Let me try to understand this picture. More than 40 years ago President Kennedy had a very scary stand-off with Fidel Castro. Soviet missiles in Cuba threatened the U.S. Communism was on the march around the globe. In the 60's we lost thousands of our brave troops in the jungles of Vietnam fighting communism. At that time the brutal communist dictator Mao Tse Tung of China was pushing his brand of communism throughout Asia. Those were tense times.

Fast forward to today. The Soviet Union is history. The old Soviet states are now separate and independent. Russian President Vladimir Putin goes to President Bush's ranch in Texas as a guest. The long list of Eastern European communist states (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, etc.) now have democratic governments. China was just accepted as a member of the WorId Trade Organization. There is not one single communist government in the entire Western Hemisphere except Fidel Castro's Cuba. We not only trade with Vietnam today, we recognize their government as legitimate and have an ambassador tllere.

During the cold war we maintained our military strength. We stood our ground. And at the same time employed a policy of constructive engagement; including trade, travel and exchanges. It worked. The global thread of Communism totally collapsed.

In communist Cuba, Fidel Castro doesn't have any missiles. Cuba is deep in debt. Castro doesn't have Russia as a friend anymore. Castro is getting old. It is pretty clear that that old man with a beard in his military dress doesn't threaten us. There is no logical reason to maintain today's trade and travel embargo with Cuba.

It is encouraging that the U.S. Congress seems to agree. They just voted to ease travel. We'll see.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.