Cuba rethink:

Sometime before President Bush leaves office, or during the term of the next president, events will likely force the US to change its policy toward Cuba. The aging Fidel Castro’s rule is bound to end. But judging by the speech the president delivered last week, the Bush administration is not prepared to begin the negotiations with the Cuban government that are needed to encourage a transition away from dictatorship.

Bush is right when he says, “Cuba’s rulers promised individual liberty. Instead they denied their citizens’ basic rights.” But nearly half a century of US pressure on Castro hasn’t caused him to open up his country. While Bush promised Cubans that they would receive aid from a new Freedom Fund, he attached many unrealistic conditions.

That $1 billion estimate comes from Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, who is helping to set up the Freedom Fund. “Whenever the communists in Cuba have resources they have used them to keep their people in line,” he said in an interview. Fidel Castro, however, called his troops home once the Cold War ended. And there’s enough money coming into Cuba to maintain the security services and the army whatever the US does. The US government ought to replace isolation with engagement. Why not, for once, surprise the Castro brothers? — The Boston Globe