Time to start openings with Cuba

It’s been a full half a century — five decades, 50 years — since a relatively small band of Cuban insurgents forced Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista to abdicate and flee his Caribbean homeland, clearing the way for Fidel Castro to assume powers every bit as extensive as those wielded by the man he replaced. Love him or loathe him, you gotta give Fidel Castro credit for perseverance and political longevity. The “Maximum Leader” remained in power as head of the island nation from the time his band of revolutionaries toppled Batista on New Year’s Eve 1959, until illness nearly felled him in 2006 (he is now 82). His slightly younger brother Raul (77 years old) now heads Cuba’s government.

Washington severed relations with Havana in 1961. Since 1962 the U.S. has maintained a strict embargo on trade with Cuba, and our government prohibits most travel between the two countries. While the embargo has caused hardships for Cuba’s citizens, it has clearly failed in its political goal of toppling the Castro regime.

It is time for a change; this would be about as close to a no-brainer as you can get in international affairs. Taking some tangible steps to begin opening economic and political relations between Washington and Havana would be a clear winner for President Obama on the world stage; and opposition here at home, while still strong, especially among south Florida’s many Cuban immigrant families, is not nearly as vehement as in years past. The president would likely enjoy majority support in the Congress for at least some tangible moves to open a true dialog. Moreover, many American businesses, especially oil companies, are chomping at the bit to be able to invest and work in Cuba. As for me, I’d love to be able to buy Cuban cigars legally here in the U.S.

Obama should use the occasion of his first scheduled trip to the area — the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago next month — to go boldly where no U.S. president has gone in nearly 50 years, and formally take steps to start talking to and trading with Cuba.

62 comments Add your comment

Circles Robinson

March 16th, 2009
7:36 am

Good points Mr. Barr, its time we get beyond that Miami special interest group that has molded US foreign policy in regards to Cuba. Obama owes them little or nothing and this is a win-win situation for everyone who believes in peaceful, respectfull international relations. It’s about time the US image of the big bully on the block be reversed. There are enough problems at home these days than to be spreading hate elsewhere. Let’s hope Obama is ready to go down in history as the president who finally instituted a friendly US-Cuba policy. It’s also time that all US citizens be allowed to travel to Cuba and see it for themselves. People to people exchange is healthy with any country. For more on Cuba today check out: http://www.havanatimes.org

Bob J

March 16th, 2009
8:51 am


March 16th, 2009
8:58 am

As long as Cuba is Communist, hell no we shouldn’t talk with them. That’s the no brainer Mr. Barr


March 16th, 2009
9:00 am

Thank you Bob. Normalizing relations with Cuba is long overdue.


March 16th, 2009
9:09 am

Whether our government’s Cuba policy gets revisited is going to be largely impacted by how the ex-pat Cuban community reacts and just how badly some folks in Washington DC wet their pants over it.

Your morning jolt | Political Insider

March 16th, 2009
9:13 am

[...] Bob Barr says its time to open relations with Cuba. [...]


March 16th, 2009
9:15 am

I agree 100%! What message are we sending when we ostracize Cuba but give China favored nation status? Makes no sense in today’s world. In 1961, I understand the purpose, but in 2009 where is the logic?

Rick Caffery

March 16th, 2009
9:19 am

Right on, Bob! We’re the only country in the world where it’s illegal to buy Cuban stogies. Ridiculous. We should all be able to enjoy Monty #2’s, Cohiba Siglo VI’s and Esplendidos and all the other fine Cubano brands LEGALLY.

MacArthur O. Means

March 16th, 2009
9:24 am

The embargo is a lose-lose proposition. End it.


March 16th, 2009
9:47 am

Mr. Barr, correct again. The dialog needs to start now and I’d go one step further. Put it on the fast track. If we do not establish better relations with and a presence in Cuba, i.e. beat Russia, China, and Venezuela to the punch, we may very well end up regretting it Besides, those cigars and rum are calling my name as well.

Eleanor Rigby

March 16th, 2009
9:51 am

Isn’t it ironic? We can’t buy a cigar from Cuba but there’s nothing we won’t buy from China. I guess some forms of Communism are better than others.

Jorge Gonzalez

March 16th, 2009
9:52 am

I agree with you 100%. Our current Cuba policy is a total failure. it does not hurt the Cuban regime, it hurts the Cuban people. The embargo has been condemned by 185 nations.

It is time for dialogue, reconciliation and the reestablishment of normal diplomatic and trade relations.


March 16th, 2009
10:01 am

for once, mr barr. i completely agree with you. this would be a good move for both countries. what is the point now of continuing with an embargo? thanks for beginning the discussion.

Road Scholar

March 16th, 2009
10:12 am

Bob, are you sick? For a Republican to state that the US should begin having relations with Cuba by openning trade is….is…is…about time! While we have had disagreements with Cuba in the past, it is about time to take an active roll in correcting this past indiscretion. We may even have a positive affect on the selection of Castro’s heir, or even a Democracy. At minimum we could actually talk to them and possibly avoid a Venezalan type of government relationship.


March 16th, 2009
10:17 am

The fact is we have relationships with countries we do not agree with and have a far worse record on human rights. Saudi Arabia is one. If we had a relationship with cuba it would solve a lot of problems and open up opportunities we have never thought of. Does anyone realize Cuba trains a significant percentage of the third world’s doctors and other medical staff. In fact many doctors in the US were actually trained in Cuba.


March 16th, 2009
10:18 am

For all of those who speak of Cuba being communist. Our biggest trade partner is China and they were still communist the last time I checked.

David S

March 16th, 2009
10:23 am

What all the Kennedy lovers fail to mention is that he ordered members of his staff to buy up all the Cuban cigars in DC the night before he initiated the embargo. What a slime.

Yes Mr. Barr, its high time to trade, etc. with the nation of Cuba. The embargo is only hurting the people and empowering the Castro family. That is the way it always goes with embargos, but politicians fail to realize that.

For instance, while you were voting every time to continue the embargo against Iraq that cost 1.5 million innocent lives, how much thought did you give to the possibility that it would embolden Osama bin Laden and give him tons of ammunition in his recruiting efforts to wage war against the US, including 9-11? Just wiping your hands of that responsibility are you Mr. Barr?

Normalized relations will never happen so long as our elected officials allow the opinions of a relatively small group of zealots in south florida to influence our foreign policy. Of course the same could be said about the influence of the pro-Israel lobby that controls our mideast foreign policy.

Neither has the best interests of freedom or the american people at heart, but since when have these ever been on the agenda of the US government.


March 16th, 2009
11:04 am

I think its a good idea to open normal relations with Cuba. After all, sending thousands of American news reporters there, snooping all around, will do us both a lot of good. After all, after a visit to a Cuban political prisoner cell, Gitmo would look pretty good.

Shady guys avoid the light.

AllThings Considered

March 16th, 2009
11:08 am

Now is the time to undo what was done to the people of the US and Cuba 50 years ago. Enough already.

Kim Huffman

March 16th, 2009
11:28 am

Communism and repressive governments have nothing to do with it…we do business with communist China ( btw, they own us via our debt ), and repressive sultanate Arab governments in Saudi Arabia and dictatorships in Venezuela..it has to do with money…do they have something we want? oil, cheap goods, or nothing we want rather than proximity. Thats why its taken us so long to attempt to normalize relations..

Richard Swinger

March 16th, 2009
11:31 am

PeaDawg. You should change your name to “Pea Brain”.

If you could abandon your rabid ways, wipe the foam from your mouth and come into the real world you might come to realize that our biggest TRADE partner and CREDITOR is….CHINA!! Did you know they were as “Communist” as communist can be??? Or are you in fact as stupid as we all know you to be??? Care to elaborate on the logic behind your statement again??



March 16th, 2009
12:07 pm

This is one of the best ideas our President has had. I know he mentioned it earlier, but now is the time to talk to Cuba. The pictures that I have seen of Cuba, says that they were left in the 1960’s in everything. Some Cubans who were successful in fleeing, have not been able to see their family members, and most have died. I would like for them to be able to travel to Cuba with ease and we do other countries. As soon as Cuba opens free travel, there would be millions of US dollars poured into their economy as a tourist attraction. This is a great idea, and I hope it garners maximum support from congress.

Atlanta Native

March 16th, 2009
12:15 pm

The 50 year embargo is little more than a bureaucratic wall. How cans depriving Cuba of the experience of our Demoratized form of Capitalism ever hope to tempt it with the prospects of liberty? We’ve only endeavored to ensure that what they don’t know, they can’t know. What truths can ever be self-evident that aren’t shared by example? In the grand scheme of things, our isolationist policies toward Cuba have helped nobody on either shore and make the great and powerful United States seem a bit less great and a lot less powerful.

Suffering Cats

March 16th, 2009
12:16 pm

Only if they agree to pay for the Maine.


March 16th, 2009
12:36 pm

Right On, Richard Swinger . . . sheesh, Peadog give it a rest.

Jose Pulido

March 16th, 2009
12:39 pm

I cannot believe how ignorant people are… How can you have relationships with a government that treats its people like animals? We simply cannot have relations with a country that would not allow their people to enjoy the same things as the tourist that visit Cuba. In America you can say hate Bush or Obama and you will not go to jail… Try that there and see what happens! We need regime change or have talks for change, but no relations without regime change!

Mr. Cigar

March 16th, 2009
1:03 pm

The Cuban government’s track record on human rights is well documented but, as Mr. Barr states, after almost 50 years our embargo has done little except make life more difficult for the Cuban people. It is time for a change and the U.S. could certainly benefit from the positive publicity generated as a result of normalizing relations with Cuba.


March 16th, 2009
1:11 pm

We deal with China, they are worse than Cuba; we also deal with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Viet Nam and a whole host of bad guys. Cuba is a small fish in an ocean of bad guys…..

David S

March 16th, 2009
1:59 pm

Suffering cats – much like the supposed “surprise attack” that Pearl Harbor wasn’t, and the “innocent” Lusitania that was carrying weapons to Britain in violation of our neutrality agreement, the Tonkin Gulf “incident”, the “weapons of mass destruction”, and every other lie our government has used to lie us into war, most historians now acknowledge that the explosion of the Maine was likely an accident that was exploited by our government to get us into war and once again increase its power and funnel money to the military industrial complex.

Please do remember the Maine and remember that governments always lie.

David S

March 16th, 2009
2:02 pm

Aside from bankrupting itself on socialism, one of the other key factors in the demise of the soviet union was the extensive cultural exchange that went on between american tourists and the soviet peoples. A great economist once said “when goods cannot travel accross borders, bombs will.” High time for peace, commerce, and good will again with Cuba. Likely it will be the straw that breaks the Castro family hold on the population.

Dave Perry

March 16th, 2009
2:34 pm

Bob’s not a Republican, he’s a Libertarian, and like most Libertarians he is right again. Stupid policies are crippling this country, like the so-called Drug War. Talk about a waste of money and resources. Let the scumbag drug users buy their crap for cheap and let the Darwin Theory go to work. In the long run, it would save this country a lot of grief. And if they put in some kind of ingredient that everyone who uses drugs sterile, it really would improve things.

An opportunity missed

March 16th, 2009
3:01 pm

I agree with you Mr. Barr. It is time for a change, to not do so is another opportunity missed.

An opportunity missed

March 16th, 2009
3:04 pm

You are correct David S in that governments are always truthful….just ask the American Indian.

An opportunity missed

March 16th, 2009
3:04 pm

I meant aren’t always truthful…

Eleanor Rigby

March 16th, 2009
3:42 pm

Dave Perry, you are a trip. Don’t forget to tax the hell out of the drugs. We smokers can’t pay off the national debt by ourselves.


March 16th, 2009
3:47 pm

Amen. While I still love my Nicaraugan cigars, I would also love to be able to sample Cubans without fear of reprisal.

I have many friends who are Cuban expats, and I have zero love for the Castro regime. However, I’m no big fan of Hugo Chavez either, and last time I checked, that big Citgo sign is still behind the Green Monster at Fenway Park.

Algonquin J. Calhoun

March 16th, 2009
3:48 pm

I rarely agree with Bob but I agree wholeheartedly here. It’s time to end this ridiculous embargo and move forward. Freezing the Cubans out has not worked in fifty years. Let’s give something else a try!


March 16th, 2009
4:17 pm

Bob! You just want to pollute them with capitalism! It is a socialist state…ahhh… but we have a socialist President; hey it might work, we all can be socialists together.


March 16th, 2009
4:17 pm



March 16th, 2009
4:30 pm

Bring on those Cuban stogies!!!!!! It is about time to open relations with a non-threatening country. China is a threat to all of the world and yet we have relations with them because it is prudent to do so. Why not end the cow-towing to ex-pat Cubans and get things normalized now? We also have “relations” with Russia and other former-East-bloc countries now. So, why not Cuba?


March 16th, 2009
4:42 pm

It’s hypocritical to ban relations with Cuba because of their communist government when China owns our T-bills


March 16th, 2009
5:34 pm

We do need to open normal relations with Cuba. I for one believe if we open relations with Cuba you will see that most of the south Florida Cubans will rejoice. They will now be able to visit their relatives and their homeland. I also believe that when they visit they will carry with them the feeling of freedom and it will without notice change Cuba with every visit.

Sad but the world has many peadawgs.

Babe Ruth

March 16th, 2009
6:17 pm

and I’d like to be able buy Cuban rum… on Sundays. The thought of open trade with Cuba is appealing, but I find open trade within the State of Georgia to be far more appealing. Sonny is not a lame duck, he’s just plain lame.


March 16th, 2009
7:35 pm

If the USA can trade with Red China and Vietnam, why not Cuba ?

Nutball Gazette

March 16th, 2009
7:46 pm

We should never deal with Commie Countries, We only should deal with free countries who has a history of treating all their people with dignity like China!!

Of course we should open up relations with Cuba.


March 16th, 2009
7:49 pm

Pay no attention to this wonk. I was at the meeting of homeowners that spewed fury at him when he supported the Northern Arc. He’s just another washed up politician still spouting his stupid crap.

Just Nasty & Mean

March 16th, 2009
8:55 pm

My suggestion is we send in Steve Wynn from Vegas and Bill Marriott–of the hotel chain–and use US taxpayer money to turn the whole country into a giant playground for the rich, and turn all the local peasants into chambermaids and janitors.

Whatever industry Cuba has left, (sugar?, tequila? ) we could nationalize and use US taxpayer money to compete with American corporations. We could send money from the last Farm Pork Bill and allow a small contingent of farmers to continue to grow weed–because I heard it was —”killer”.

THEN, we could build a massive airbase at US taxpayer expense, so Cuba could land and support the Russian long-range bombers they said they wanted–along with Venezuela strongman Chavez.

Speaking of Chavez, we don’t want to make him mad, so we could prohibit drilling for oil in the massive oil field Fidel says he has found, and drive up the price of energy on the US consumers. Of course, the Chinese will be able to drill all the oil they want or need.

We could build a 90 mile bridge, at US taxpayer expense, to connect Key West with Cuba, and any and all Cuban refugees could pour into the US and be immediately eligible for US healthcare, education, welfare, medicare, Social Security, a share of everybody’s 401K, voting rights, and US citizenship with no-questions-asked.

We could carve a full length image of Fidel on Mt. Rushmore shaking hands with Obama and Michele, and erase those disgusting images of George Washington,Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt, If course, we would leave Lincoln– but change his face to be smiling approvingly at Obama

And FINALLY!! At US taxpayer expense, we could outfit Fidel and his brother with their own White House, their own Camp David, fund their own army of lobbyists to petition US legislators for more money for God-knows-what, and a Cuban AirForce One 747 and a fleet of Marine One choppers—-all expenses paid.

AND–we could call all this debt to our children and children’s children—a STIMULUS package, and proclaim Obama the GREAT EMANCIPATOR of Latin America–further positioning him for Sainthood (as if he needed it).

Man, Bob! This is a GREAT idea!

Political Mongrel

March 16th, 2009
9:31 pm

We’ve been trading with China and Vietnam, negotiating with North Korea, and have relations with all of the ex-Soviet Union nations and eastern block nations that have been slowly migrating back toward Communism, and we’ve been doing some of this for decades. It’s time to quit making Cuba the only special case left.

Communism is eventually going to fail in Cuba. Let’s help push it on its way.


March 16th, 2009
9:50 pm

As long as we get to vacation there, I am all for it.

Man, I agreed with Bob Barr. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.


March 17th, 2009
4:54 am

We buy all the junk China has to offer, even though they are a communist country and treat their citizens like crap. However, we are not afraid of little old Cuba and we should punish them, because they are communist.
Give a break.

Suffering Cats

March 17th, 2009
6:29 am

David S,

Are you serious? Because I wasn’t.

Atlanta Native 1969

March 17th, 2009
6:33 am

As a Democrat, I rarely agree with Bob on anything political, but Bob is right on the money on this. It is about time. Cuba is no more a threat. I mean, we trade with China (everything is about made there now anyway) and they are more of a Communist threat, so I don’t see what the problem is. If they allowed US travel to Cuba, I’d be on the first plane. Beautiful beaches, weather, and of course, the most beautiful women on the planet! End the embargo!


March 17th, 2009
7:14 am

I think we tell all the fat cats either you ok trading with Cuba or agree to a mandatory minimum of ten years in jail if you are caught with one of those Cuban cigars you have been smoking for all these years. These guys are hypocrites. Castro and his brother will not be around that much longer. We have been trading with Russia and China for years. We trade with President Chavez of Venezuela. We called Saddam Hitler and continued to buy oil from them as we invaded Iraq. It is time to end this farce we all know Cubans have been sending home money illegally for years and fat cats have smoked Cuban cigars for years as well.

Just Nasty & Mean

March 17th, 2009
8:15 am

…How about a couple more?

We could transform the Army’s hellfire missiles to contain and transport US dollars, and we could launch them over Cuba and SHOWER American dollars on the Cuban lower class in a MASSIVE redistribution of wealth DIRECTLY from the US Taxpayer to the dirt farmers. Each bill will have imprinted on it: “Courtesy of Barack Obama” so due credit is given.

Those Cubans coming to America would be given preferences in hiring, benefits, wages and promotions. I mean–after all—think how long they have been “held down” under their Socialistic/Communist system for decades (but you won’t be able to say that). Call it “Reparations”.

And all those 50/60s cars still running down there, we will FORCE Ford/GM/Chrysler to retrofit EACH of them to US emission control and mileage standards and seat belts, with a 100,000 mile warranty. Of course, we’ll provide tax breaks for building plants for parts in Cuba vs: the USA. The duty on US cars would prohibit any importing of them. After all, we don’t want to kill Cuba’s native industries?

When it comes to education, Obama could send an army of Washington, DC teachers to Cuba headed up by William Ayers, with BILLION$ in taxpayer dollars. We could give them a 1st hand view of government indoctrination–DC & Chicago-style— that makes Castro’s look like pre-school! (PS: NO VOUCHERS ALLOWED!).

Obama could anoint Monica Lewinsky as “Cigar Queen”, since she opened up a whole new use and application for cigars, greatly expanding the market. .

I think opening up trade with Cuba is a GREAT idea, Bob!


March 17th, 2009
8:25 am

I certainly wouldn’t want the USA to normalize relations with Cuba. The USA are known to be exploiters and Cuba would be required to accept conditions which would only benefit Americans.The last time Cuba and the USA were engaged in economic and political interaction,drugs and prostitution was very prevalent on the Island.I am Cuban and I personally would not want a one-sided relationship with the USA.Simply put,stay the hell out of my country!

Mr. KnowItAll

March 17th, 2009
9:11 am


GO BACK TO “YOUR COUNTRY”! You certainly don’t belong here!

Are you stating that it is America’s fault that your country is full of whores and drug dealers?

After calling the USA “exploiters”, you’re going to have to explain why we returned EVERY INCH of territory we won in WW1 and WW2 won with the blood of patriots, except the land needed to bury our dead.

TAKE THAT BACK you disrespectful ingrate! …and get the hell out of this country and back to Cuba–if it is so great….

Richard Swinger

March 17th, 2009
9:53 am

“Nasty and Mean” may you drown in the froth that flows from your mouth.

You are very apparently a truly miserable person. Just end it all man.

Richard Swinger

March 17th, 2009
10:11 am

I think it is high time that we normalize relations with Cuba. I never really liked Bob Barr, be he is absolutely correct on this one. When you consider his point about what we have actually gained over the past 50 years from this embargo..wow what an eye opener!!

And considering all the jabber and propaganda about Cuba’s suitability as a base for Russian bombers, they are once again laying the groundwork for a U.S. challenge. Why? Because they view us as a broke, brokEN, divided country and nothing like staging another showdown to show the world whether we are still a true superpower or a bunch of loudmouth chip on the shoulder chumps – which unforunately the last “regime” projected oh so well. Normalizing relations with Cuba I feel totally nullifies the Russian influence. You watch and see.. I bet silently Cuba and Cubans have been praying for such a thing for years now..

Proverbs 22:1

March 17th, 2009
10:33 am

Goooooooooooooood morning/ Ho-ray for Bob. The Cubans furnish M.D.’s around the world during troubled times and every body goes to school and pays attention.

Logical Dude

March 17th, 2009
4:53 pm

How about the US Nationalize the petroleum industry. We’ve nationalized so many BAD companies, we might as well grab some that are making huge profits.

::tongue in cheeck::


March 18th, 2009
5:57 pm

Mr. Barr, finally the United States may be able to regain the respect of other countries throughout the world by re-examining archaic US foreign policies. Hopefully the shifting tide on U.S-Cuba policy is only the beginning of fundamental political change in Washington.

Logan Young

August 1st, 2009
7:06 am

Well said, USA is importing all the junk electronic Instruments from China who is also a communist country. If China then why not Cuba? It will help our economy to grow. And we don’t have to think about getting a Cuban Cigar in USA. Different Varieties of Cuban Cigars are a treat to taste.