Saturday, July 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Coast Guard, Cuba work together on common issues

It's no surprise that after more than 50 years of open hostility, the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba has its ebb and flow. But despite the pullback on both sides in recent months, the experience of the U.S. Coast Guard testifies to the improvement in public safety that this budding relationship offers to both countries.

For decades, there was no more searing indictment of U.S.-Cuba relations than the images of Cuban refugees dangling for life on anything that would float as they headed toward South Florida. Washington unveiled a new approach in 1995, the so-called "wet foot/dry foot" policy, which allowed Cubans who reached U.S. soil to remain but called for returning those caught on the water. The policy prompted the launch of countless boats as desperate Cubans sought a new life of freedom, but the risks and abuses it encouraged caused many to perish at sea.

President Barack Obama ended the policy in the waning days of his administration in January. Since then, the number of Cuban refugees intercepted at sea has dropped precipitously, from 6,000 or more per year to a fraction of that figure. In April, the Coast Guard did not seize a single Cuban migrant — the first month that has happened in seven years. Interdicting fewer migrants on the sea creates an opportunity for the Coast Guard to redirect resources to other areas, in particular fighting the increase in drug trafficking.

Rear Adm. Peter J. Brown, who commands the Coast Guard's 7th District, which includes Florida, characterized the Coast Guard's relationship with Cuba's border guard as "uniquely productive." In a meeting last week with the Times editorial board, Brown said the United States and Cuba have strengthened their operational ties in several areas, from improving responses to search and rescue to cooperating on marine protections. These are vital capabilities for Cuba, which is growing its tourism sector and looking to mine offshore energy resources. Given that Florida is only 90 miles away and a hub for Cuba cruise ship travel, the Coast Guard's strong relationships on the island further the security and economic interests of the Sunshine State.

The Trump administration has pulled back on the loosening of U.S. travel to Cuba begun under President Obama, and Cuban President Raul Castro has hit the pause button on some of the communist island's market reforms. But underneath all the politics, the Coast Guard and its counterparts in Cuba continue to work to save lives on the water, to stop the flow of illegal drugs and to protect the region's natural resources. That is a good sign for two neighbors with many shared interests.

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Editorial: NFL calls wise time-out on disciplining protests

The National Football League kept an embarrassing situation from becoming even worse by shelving its new policy clamping down on players who refuse to stand for the national anthem.The league announced late Thursday it would suspend the 2-month old p...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Editorial: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s responsible budget

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is shoring up his final year in office with the proposed city budget he released Thursday. The plan includes no big-ticket items, opting instead to maintain ongoing investments in parks, roads and other basic public services....
Updated: 10 hours ago

IRS making ‘dark money’ darker

Under a perverse interpretation of federal law, tax-exempt nonprofit organizations supposedly devoted to "social welfare" can spend large amounts of money to influence elections without publicly disclosing the identities of their donors. But instead ...
Published: 07/19/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

Editorial: Ferry is fun but should pay for itself in long run

The CrossBay Ferry appears headed for another round of rides across Tampa Bay, with local governments pledging one more year of financial support. But as more taxpayer money is steered into this project, it’s important to recognize what purpose the f...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

To his credit, Gov. Rick Scott says he is considering requests to order an independent investigation of how Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s office screens applications for concealed weapon permits. It’s a reasonable request, and the governor h...
Published: 07/18/18
Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

July in Florida. The height of summer tourist season. Rental cars clog the highways and tourists crowd the beaches, motels and all-you-can-eat shrimp joints. Many of our neighbors are off to North Carolina or somewhere cooler. So it’s an awfully inco...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/20/18
Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
Published: 07/17/18
Updated: 07/18/18
Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

In one of the most surreal news conferences of our time, President Donald Trump actually stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday and called the federal investigation into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 election "a disaster for our coun...
Published: 07/16/18
Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

The St. Petersburg City Council made the appropriate but difficult decision to reject a contract with renowned artist Janet Echelman for one of her aerial sculptures. It would be wonderful for the city to have one of her signature works, but Spa Beac...
Published: 07/13/18

‘Everybody needed to know what happened’

The brutal murder of Emmett Till, a black Chicago youth, in Mississippi nearly 63 years ago went unpunished, but not forgotten. A decision by his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, to allow an open casket at Emmett’s Chicago funeral represented an act of def...
Published: 07/13/18