Saturday, February 20, 2016
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, February 20, 2016
Obama to visit Cuba: Two views
As the Toronto Star has argued before, efforts by 10 successive U.S. presidents to unseat the regime in Havana have demeaned a superpower, discredited Cuban reformers and impoverished the island. By Cuban reckoning, the embargo has inflicted more than $120 billion in economic losses since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. The U.S. severed diplomatic ties in 1961 and imposed the embargo in 1962.
With every passing year the embargo became more pointlessly vindictive, as the U.S. traded briskly with Communist China, with communist regimes in Vietnam and Laos, even to a limited extent with North Korea.
It’s a point of pride for Canadians that we played a small positive role by hosting the secret talks that led to the U.S. and Cuba breaking the ice in 2014, restoring diplomatic ties and embassies, upgrading trade and air links, and easing aspects of the boycott. Canada never endorsed or joined the boycott, taking the view that Cubans must be free to shape their own political course.
Only Congress can fully lift the embargo. That’s beyond this president’s power. But Obama is right to make good on his promise before he leaves office.
Cuba’s democrats and reformers will be cheered by this visit as they press for credible elections, independent courts and a more open economy. And the government will no longer be able to cite U.S. hostility as a pretext for “defending the revolution” by intimidating critics and suppressing human rights. (Source: Toronto Star Editorial)
Meanwhile, another take on the coming visit, though less earnest: Canadians who want to visit Cuba before an influx of Americans “ruins” it better move fast: President Obama is planning a visit in the next few weeks, and you can bet a lot of others will follow soon. On Tuesday Washington and Havana agreed to re-open commercial air traffic. And Beyoncé’s already been there. Can Havana Disney be far behind? Obama’s visit could could legitimately be termed an historic event. And he doesn’t have a lot of other foreign successes to brag about, so he might as well highlight one of the few achievements he can claim. Enjoy the rum, el presidente.(Source: National Post Editorial)