02/07/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Doug Bandow: Drop The Cuba Embargo

The policymaking guard is changing in Washington, but the newcomers are anything but new. Unfortunately, that will encourage policy continuity. One area which desperately needs genuine change, however, is Washington's strategy toward Cuba.

At recent public celebrations Havana's leaders sounded defiant, but nervous. Fifty years ago, they made a revolution, but merely replaced one dictatorship with another, turning their island into an impoverished prison. As in most communist states, the nomenklatura has prospered--the hard currency stores are filled with the sort of goods Americans take for granted--but opportunity is denied anyone lacking connections. When I visited Cuba (legally), Westerners were swarmed by Cubans desperate for dollars. "Are you looking for a nice restaurant?" "Where are you from?" And the ubiquitous: "My friend, would you like some cigars?" Even the most innocuous conversation ended with a Cuban pleading for cash to buy food for his family or milk for his children.

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