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Editorial: Correct decision to renew ties with Cuba

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | DECEMBER 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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After more than 50 years of isolating Cuba from diplomatic relations, political engagements, and economic ties, President Obama announced on Wednesday that the United States will begin to normalize relations with Cuba. Although still governed by the Castro family in the same communist regime it was in 1961, when then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower severed relations with Cuba, Obama remains confident that things are much different from what they were half a century ago.

In the early 1960s, Cuba was seen as a primary threat to freedom because it was the premier staple of communism in the Western Hemisphere. Distrust between Cuba and the United States was growing at a fast rate, and climbing paranoia resulted from accusations of espionage in Cuban embassies. The culmination of communist paranoia and Fidel Castro’s anti-American image is what ultimately prompted Eisenhower to end relations.

In the 50-plus years since, the negatives from cutting ties with Cuba have greatly outweighed the positives.

By inherently cutting off communication diplomatically with Cuba, the United States has had to go about dealing with their differences by less-effective means. Most notable include the Bay of Pigs Invasion, a failed attack by trained Cuban exiles that was easily thwarted by Castro’s army. The results of that disaster only fueled Cold War tensions for the next decades.

Economically, the trade embargo placed on Cuba has only hurt the U.S. economy. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, by restricting trade with Cuba, it costs the United States $1.2 billion per year in lost sales and exports.

In the medical field, the United States has suffered by not having access to many of the Cuban medical breakthroughs. Because the United States can’t import any of the medical products that have been developed in Cuba, it has missed out on potentially saving some lives. A meningitis B vaccine, a therapeutic serum for lung cancer, and more healthful food preservatives are all examples of the kinds of developments that have been restricted because of the severed ties.

By completely destroying diplomatic relations with Cuba, it negatively affected the U.S. for decades while simultaneously being unjust to Cuba. Although chilly, the United States still kept relations with the Soviet Union, even throughout the Cold War. China is one of America’s biggest trading partners, despite its also being a communist state. It makes no sense that relations with Cuba have been absent for so long.

It is the belief of the Daily Iowan Editorial Board that Obama’s decision to end the dearth of relations with Cuba is the right decision. It is time for a new, improved approach as our country seeks to grow economically and diplomatically, rather than dwell in deeply rooted communist fears from such a long time ago. Although the two countries are politically different, normalizing trade relations is to America’s best interest economically, and in the broader sense, it will bring Cuba and the United States in friendlier confines to be able to negotiate for the benefit of both countries.


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