Folks who think the transfer of power from Fidel to Raul is going to make a big difference in the Cuban/American situation are living in La La Land. And now that the regime has been fixated into power for nearly fifty years, and the generations of children have grown up in the culture, it’s doubtful that Raul’s future successor will suddenly switch to more democratic ideals. Either way, maintaining the embargo ad infinitum makes no sense.

In 1962, while embroiled in the Cold War, the United States government imposed economic sanctions upon the island nation of Cuba, cutting off all trade and imposing prohibitions against Americans who purchase Cuban products. The intent was three-fold. First, to alienate Castro from the free world and expose him as a communist dictator. Second, instigate an uprising of the people, then re-establish a democratic regime; and third, to put an end to Cuba’s threat as a satellite nation to the Soviet Union, whose dictator, Nikita Khrushchev had promised to bury us.

The embargo was justified…then. It is not justified any more.

The Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. Ergo, Cuba is no longer a satellite threat. Many thought the Cuban government would collapse with it. That just didn’t happen. Not only has Cuba survived, they’ve opened their shores to international tourism which has given the island nation an economic shot in the arm we hadn’t counted on. Only citizens of the United States are prohibited from leisure travel to Cuba. Meanwhile, my relatives and friends from Canada travel there frequently to enjoy the music, food, warm surf, the people and that unique Latino ambience. Not only that, Cuban cigars are legal in Canada.

The alienation factor has backfired as well. In 2005, the United Nations passed a resolution to end the Cuban embargo by a vote of 182 to 4. So much for alienating.

There’s an old saying about, “Watch out what you wish for; you might get it.” The government’s push toward democracy is succeeding as we had hoped, but it has backfired as well. Elections were held among Palestinians and Iranians in 2005. Trouble is, the people elected our enemies. Whoops!

To our dismay, Castro’s Cuba is enjoying better relations today with other nations of the western hemisphere than ever before, and they are likewise being elected in the democratic process, just as we wished. One of Castro’s compatriots, Evo Morales, was elected president of Bolivia in 2005. Evo is no friend the U.S. He has been quoted, “The worst enemy of humanity is capitalism.”

The Castro brothers have another friend in South America via the “democratic” process. Hugo Chavez, the duly elected president of Venezuela, has threatened to bring down the despised United States government. Chavez is an unabashed admirer of Fidel.

The more we isolate, the more we become isolated. Whatever success we have sought in dealing with Castro, we have failed. When football teams deploy failing strategies in game after game, heads roll, play books are revised, something always changes. Maybe it’s time for a new strategy in the Cuba arena.

If we were to invade the deep, private views of our political leaders, I’m sure many would say the embargo is outdated. But, there’s that precious voting block: the vitriolic Cuban-Americans who hate Castro. Can’t lose their support.

What the Cuban-Americans of Florida fail to realize is that after 48 years, Castro was the last person to feel pain from the embargo. It’s the Cuban people who suffer, their brothers, sisters, cousins and friends. Cubans still live in ramshackle squalor, own no property, and drive around in pre-1960s automobiles. And they’ve had nearly a half century of indoctrinating their children against the great evil: The United States.

It is always important to weigh the pros and the cons. There are few pros when it comes to continuing the embargo against the Cuban people. Rather, we could work at building better relations among all our neighbors to the south if we stopped being so stubborn. By establishing better communications with the Cuban people, we might foster a future ally down the road. Meanwhile, the Cuban government is so mired in anti-Americanism, they are prone to making friends with our enemies, which — to my way of thinking — is not very smart.

Our government tells us, the trade embargo remains because Cuba is a communist country. But we are trading — big time — with other communist countries, including China and Vietnam. The government is in a major quandary over illegal immigrants crashing our borders unannounced, yet still there is one nation from where they are welcomed: Cuba. How do we explain that to the Mexicans? Ah…because they are fleeing a communist countries.

Meanwhile, law enforcement is rounding up undocumented Chinese all the time on the west coast, oppressed people who are fleeing a communist country.

And we wonder why foreign nations think of Americans as hypocrites?

We are a generous nation that never fails to address the needy, providing assistance in natural disasters all over the world without prejudice. We provide foreign aid to nearly 150 other countries. It is inconceivable that a government who portrays itself so benevolent can also be so calloused. It’s all about votes.

I have no love for Castro or his ilk. But it is time to weigh the priorities and see that Americans and Cubans — and our status in the world — would benefit through a more open relationship.