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Why U.S. Policy On Cuba Has Reached A Tipping Point

Increasingly, the general American public and even anti-Castro businessmen now seem to agree that less hostility toward Cuba is the best road to take.

Sipping a mojito in Miami's Little Havana
Sipping a mojito in Miami's Little Havana
Arlene B. Tickner


BOGOTA – Public debate on Cuba in American politics had long been frozen, due to Florida's importance in U.S. elections and the weight of the Cuban-American lobby. But something has changed, and we can begin to discern an emerging consensus among politicians, businessmen, intellectuals, media, civic leaders and the public on the need to change Washington's strategy toward Cuba.

Two polls this year by the Atlantic Council and the Florida International University confirm that an ample majority of the U.S. population favors the normalization of ties with Cuba, and an end to restrictions on trade and travel. Most share the view that the embargo on the island has simply not worked.

Regarding Miami, where the majority of Cuban Americans live, levels of support for this change are actually above the national average. This change of position among those who used to be the main obstacle to any overtures to the communist regime is reflected in the case of the sugar magnate and former donor to Castro opponents, Alfonso Fanjul.

He recently admitted to The Washington Post that he had made several trips to Cuba in pursuit of various attractive investment opportunities. Likewise 50 prominent businessmen and politicians recently wrote to President Barack Obama, urging an acceleration of bilateral rapprochement.

Colombia's role

Indeed, when a recent editorial in The New York Times called for a change to the outdated policies on Cuba, it actually came as no surprise. The embargo is now effectively weighing on the U.S., depriving it of the opportunities generated by a loosening of economic policies in Cuba that are being cashed in on by such trading partners as Brazil and the European Union, which are increasingly replacing Venezuela as partner-investors in various infrastructure projects, like the Mariel mega-port.

We should decode the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' calls at the UN inviting the U.S. to reformulate its embargo and soften policies toward Cuba, strictly into context. Santos made his declarations at an investment forum for Colombia on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, and some observers explained them as a gesture of thanks to the Castro brothers, for facilitating the peace talks held in Havana between Colombia and the communist FARC guerrillas.

But there is a more convincing reading of his declarations. As Washington's unconditional ally in Latin America, whose voice is closely heard, President Santos may have sought to boost from the outside those bipartisan voices in the United States that back President Barack Obama's policy change on Cuba in the face of Republican critics.

All eyes will now be on the next Summit of the Americas set for April, when the entire continent and the Secretary-General of the Organization of American States will seek Cuba's attendance. If Obama is there too, we may witness a historic turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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