Sunday, February 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Crist hits right note on Cuba

Former Gov. Charlie Crist's call to end the Cuba embargo and his interest in visiting the country are important milestones. They reflect Crist's transformation from a Republican incumbent who supported the embargo to a Democratic candidate for governor who wants to end it. And they illustrate how far Florida and the nation have come in recognizing the failure of isolationism and the economic, cultural and political benefits of a more rational Cuba policy. Gov. Rick Scott and other Republicans who quickly criticized Crist as a pawn of communism are out of touch, out of date and out of new ideas.

The news that Crist is exploring a trip to Cuba this summer came after his appearance this week at the Versailles Restaurant in Miami's Little Havana. At the emigre landmark, he built on comments he has made in recent months and called for lifting the embargo. Critics say it is another flip-flop by the former governor, but it is helpful to be able to recognize when circumstances have changed and old views are no longer defensible. Crist now says that normalizing relations is the best way to promote democracy and human rights on the island while creating a new market for American business. He is right about the politics and the impact that trade can have on bilateral relations. And his views speak to the interest by Cuban-Americans in reconnecting with family by taking advantage of a looser federal travel ban.

Scott, seeking support among hard-liners in the exile community, calls the embargo a tool for Cuban freedom. But the embargo has not dislodged the Castro brothers, inspired a popular revolt, curbed Cuba's adventurism in Latin America or brought the world together in ostracizing the Havana government. It has increased the daily hardships of Cuban families struggling to survive, and it has limited opportunities for their Florida relatives to help and for American companies to invest.

Recent polls show a majority of Floridians, including Cuban-Americans, support normalizing relations and lifting travel with the communist-run island. Earlier this year, Cuban exile and sugar tycoon Alfonso Fanjul expressed his openness to reinvesting in Cuba. This was a dramatic shift for one of the oldest and most respected leaders of the exile community, whose family was forced from Cuba by the Castro regime. The list of officeholders and business leaders from Tampa Bay who have traveled to Cuba in recent years grows almost by the day. It includes U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and her predecessor, Jim Davis; a former mayor; members of the Tampa City Council; and the heads of business groups, the University of South Florida and Tampa International Airport.

Crist is the highest-profile Florida politician to embrace a change in attitude toward Cuba. That speaks to the wishes of Cuban-Americans, businesses and those promoting democracy who see the trade and travel bans for what they are: tired political gimmicks that hurt the Cuban people more than the government.

Since direct flights resumed in 2011, more than 100,000 passengers have traveled from Tampa to Cuba. Port, tourism and business leaders say normalizing relations would bring new trade to a state with deep cultural connections to Cuba. By moving to the correct side of this issue, Crist is better positioned to help shape the future. Other politicians who want to play a constructive role in influencing Cuba policy and prepare the state to benefit from increased ties to the island should be moving in the same direction.

Comments
Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18