Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Knock down U.S. barriers to Cuba

President Barack Obama vowed in his State of the Union address this week to use his executive power to work around congressional gridlock on several issues, from jobs to pensions to clean energy. He should add another topic: relations with Cuba.

The 54-year-old trade embargo has been an utter failure, and it's beyond time Congress repealed five decades of sanctions that have served only to separate Cuban-American families and diminish U.S. influence in the region. Short of Congress having an epiphany, the president has wide latitude under his executive authority to at least curb the embargo's senseless reach. Obama took this approach in 2009 and 2011 by reversing Bush-era travel restrictions on Cuban-Americans to the island and by relaxing the barriers for U.S. citizens seeking to visit.

Florida and Tampa Bay in particular benefitted from the president's moves. Opening up direct flights to Cuba from a host of American gateways, including Tampa, has brought the two countries closer together than they have been for generations. Families have found it easier and cheaper to reunite, and ordinary Cubans have been exposed to the American ideal of democracy. Since the flights took off in 2011, Tampa International Airport has become the second-busiest gateway to Cuba, behind only Miami. Jose R. Cabanas, who heads the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and is that nation's top diplomat in the United States, said during a visit to the bay area Thursday that the strength of ties is remarkable. Cabanas' schedule included meetings with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the airport, the port and cultural groups.

The American public is clearly ahead of most of its political leadership in recognizing that normalizing relations with Cuba makes sense. Toward that end, the administration can take several helpful steps to put Cuban-American relations on sounder footing. The president should loosen the restrictions for open travel to Cuba; Americans have a right to move freely here and abroad. He should expand U.S. diplomatic ties with Cuba and seek closer cooperation on a range of issues, from hurricane preparation and disease control to safe management of offshore oil facilities. The United States should also continue working to help Cuba find a new banking institution to process accounts for Cuba's U.S. operations. Its current bank has announced it will withdraw this spring, which could effectively shut down Cuba's consular services in this country.

Obama has every reason to improve relations with a nation closer to the mainland than the state of Hawaii. And he has the power to do it, with or without help from Congress.

Comments
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18