January 30, 2009, 10:20 A.M.
During this week Graham and his shipmates on the TS Kennedy sailed along the southern coast of Cuba. During the same week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left open the possibility for new and more progressive policies towards our souther neighbor. That is an exciting proposition.
The fifty years of isolation and animosity between our respective countries has really accomplished little. The Castro government is still in power, and only the people of Cuba have suffered from this isolation. There is no weakness in now moving beyond old cold war notions of punishment and sanctions, and toward a more enlightened and progressive approach to Cuban/American relations. What else can we possibly have to gain, and what purpose will continued obstinance possibly serve?
I would love to visit Cuba some day. I would also like to see the day when Cubans can visit the US and can buy those few products that we still make in their local shops. Time has not eroded the strength of the Cuban government, and isolation deprives us of the opportunity to sin over the Cuban people to our point of view because they canít see, hear or experience the difference.
At one time it would be argued that human rights abuses and political oppression served as a justification for continued refusal to relate culturally, economically, politically or diplomatically with Cuba. That moral high ground was lost, ironically, in our actions on the island of Cuba. Our own abuse and illegal detention of our purported enemies undercuts any such position. There is simply no remaining justification for continuing our current policies and they should end. I want to smoke a cigar in Old Habana, and swim on a sunny Cuban beach, and Iím not getting any younger.