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THE NEWS & OBSERVER: 40 years of embargo is enough

February 1st, 2009

By Jennifer Hawkins Slusser

Regarding your Jan. 25 Sunday Focus: I traveled to Cuba in a Witness for Peace delegation in 2004 and visited the neighborhood clinics that specialize in the preventative care President Obama is calling for in the U.S. I saw firsthand the tremendous progress Cubans have made in organic farming since the crumbling of the Soviet Union made it impossible for most Cuban farmers to acquire pesticides.

I visited a literacy museum tracing the journey that allows Cubans to boast a higher literacy rate than the United States, and I witnessed booming tourism in Havana teeming with Europeans, Canadians, and South Americans. (I wonder sometimes whether freedom-loving Americans realize that it's our government, not the Cuban government that prevents U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba.)

If that's not enough reason to rethink our policy toward Cuba, then consider that for over 15 years the U.N. General Assembly has voted 183-4 (Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau and U.S.) to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

After 40 years, haven't we figured out that not talking to our neighbor isn't going to lead us toward any kind of meaningful reconciliation or exchange of ideas?