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It's time to end our failed policy on Cuba

Settling in Cuba | Aug. 9, story

Time to end failed policy on Cuba

Thank you for the article on Cuba. We need more news about the island. It is important to let the American public see the effect our foreign policy — dictated by politics, not reality — has had on Cuba and our own business interests.

Let me make it clear so Cuban fanatics do not call me communist, as they do to everyone who disagrees with their failed policies. I fully recognize the damage and pain Fidel Castro has caused. I live with it daily because compared to where part of my family lives in Cuba, the shacks you pictured in your article might be considered palaces. However I also place blame for the suffering and poor living conditions in Cuba on the failed 50-year policy of embargo and isolation, pushed by the Cuban community in Miami on our politicians. Politicians like Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and others who sacrificed the interests of our citizens and businesses because their thirst for vengeance against Castro was more important.

Don't forget their constituents, who while eating steak, living in air-conditioned homes and driving Cadillacs here pushed a failed policy knowing it would prolong the pain of their own families and mine. Their actions raise the question of whether they hated Castro more than they loved their fellow Cubans.

We did it their way for 50 years, and Castro and communism are still alive and well. It is time to send cruise ships, American products, open the lines of business, make deals to drill for oil off their coast and flood the streets of Cuba with American tourists. I assure you, the next generation of Cuban-Americans won't also die off without seeing a free Cuba.

George A. Gonzalez, Madeira Beach

Time is right for opening to Cuba | Aug. 11, commentary by Mary Mulhern

First, Cuba must change

Lest Mary Mulhern and others forget, Cuba is still a communist-run country.

I feel great sympathy for the people of Cuba. All that is needed for a positive change in relations is for the Castro regime to allow free elections and to admit that communism has not worked. How can the Cuban government continue to proclaim its ideology's superiority when even their former benefactor and mentor, the Soviet Union, has crumbled?

Mulhern and others should concern themselves more with changing the political fabric of Cuba.

Once a democracy blooms there, free trade will be one of the many freedoms that they will, as a country, come to enjoy.

Kim MacKellar, South Pasadena

Time is right for opening to Cuba | Aug. 11, commentary by Mary Mulhern

Missed opportunities

Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern is right in wanting to open up Cuba for the reasons given. Why is it that we love to deal with super-communist China, the same regime that helped inflict more than 33,000 deaths on us during the Korean War (huh, what war?) and refuse to deal with an anemic communist state?

Mulhern did not mention that Cuba has recently made a deal with Russia to drill for oil in Cuban waters 150 miles from Florida. We have shot ourselves in the foot on this issue once again.

Frank Gegunde, Tampa

Obama's poor lesson on race | Aug. 9

Not postracial yet

As I finished reading Bill Maxwell's stern, yet wise lecture on how black men should conduct themselves if approached by a police officer, the last line stood out as though it had been printed in red. Maxwell referred to our country as being "post- racial." In spite of our country's progress along racial divisions, electing our first black president, as well as Sonia Sotomayor becoming the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice, are we really a postracial America?

Unfortunately, my answer is no. Because, if we were past all of the ugly racial divisiveness, I doubt that there ever would have been the brouhaha over Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and his handcuffed arrest after he was suspected of breaking into his own home. Nor would have Gates suggested that the white arresting officer was a racist. And President Barack Obama would never have jumped into Gates' defense by saying that the situation was handled stupidly. All things considered, I'd have to say that we are a long ways off from being a postracial America.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

Obama's poor lesson on race | Aug. 9

Required reading

This piece by Bill Maxwell should be required reading for all students in every middle/high school/college class in this country. This reading should be followed by a meaningful discussion between teacher, students and even parents. Kudos to Maxwell for clarifying this issue.

Marilyn Renner, Dunedin

Florida shouldn't drive away insurers Aug. 13, letter from state Rep. Bill Proctor

Put the people first

When State Farm established State Farm Florida as a subsidiary, it did so to be able to selectively make specific losses reportable in a misleading format.

State Farm's national profits increased 64 percent from 2005 to 2006. Couldn't State Farm have set some of this profit aside to do what they promise to do and cover losses to the homeowners?

State Farm only wants to provide insurance when things go well for them. Their responsibility is to manage their income so that they can handle disasters that occur. Maybe limiting their profits would have allowed them to meet their promised responsibilities. We should prohibit State Farm from writing any insurance in Florida if it selectively removes the areas that cause losses.

Rep. Proctor, we know the insurance industry provides a substantial portion of your campaign contributions. However, it would be refreshing if you started looking out for the interests of the residents of Florida.

We have had State Farm insurance for more than 30 years. Our agent is very good, but it is becoming more difficult to support a company that thinks so little of the interests of its clients.

James R. Cashon, St. Petersburg

He knows the combination to the hurt locker Aug. 9, Perspective story

Vets need more help

Beyond daily casualty reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, writer Dave Scheiber brings home the awful cost of posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD) affecting the men and women in these wars at a time very few Americans think we are in a state of war. Our collective consciousness sees minor evidence of war because for civilians there is little personal sacrifice or demand for it. Scheiber does an excellent job of using Bob Delany's experience and credibility to bring home the pain and disorientation of PSTD.

There have been ample reports of military suicides and the reluctance of soldiers to seek psychological counseling. If a third of troops have some problem, the government must provide them with support in adjusting to civilian life.

The least we need is public pressure on government and the military to deal fully with the combat stress situation. Scheiber has done timely and sharp reporting, which should cause many to think again.

James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Happy reader

I keep meaning to write and tell you that we enjoy Latitudes every week. Those large photos on its front page are keepers. Also, we love Robyn Blumner's column each week. Good job. Wonderful paper!

Janet Warren, Brooksville

It's time to end our failed policy on Cuba 08/15/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 15, 2009 4:31am]
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