Charleston.net | Post and Courier
Publisher note: There is no author on this. I guess it is the newspaper’s opinion.
Washington’s flawed policy toward Cuba has been demonstrated once again by the uproar in the Cuban exile community over 15 people fleeing the totalitarian regime of Fidel Castro who fell afoul of what is known as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” rule.
The 15 Cubans thought that they had reached dry land - and with it safety in the United States - when, after a perilous voyage, they reached a bridge in the Florida Keys. But the bridge was abandoned and no longer connected to the Keys. That meant that the Cubans could not claim that they had complied with the “wet-foot, dry-foot” rule by reaching the United States and were therefore entitled to political asylum in the United States. So the “wet-foot” Cubans were returned to Cuba.
The “wet-foot, dry-foot” rule was devised so that Cubans fleeing from Castro’s prison island would have a chance of reaching freedom in the United States while at the same time deterring a mass exodus. On several occasions Castro has cynically lifted the ban on Cubans traveling abroad so that thousands would take to the sea on virtually anything that would float. Florida was unable to cope with what became human avalanches. Thousands of desperate Cubans are believed to have drowned trying to reach the United States.
The Associated Press reported one Cuban-American as saying that returning the refugees “was a total abuse ... They landed on our territory only so that we can send them back to hell.” Florida Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, all Cuban-American Republicans, and Republican Sen. Mel Martinez want to change the “wet-foot, dry-foot” rule.
But it is not the whimsical rule that decides whether Cubans fleeing Cuba’s corrupt and moribund Communist regime can leave Castro’s hell for American freedom that needs changing. U.S. policy toward Cuba, which now has an epic record of nearly half a century of failure, needs changing lock, stock and barrel. The dictator needs to be challenged by lifting the embargo that allows Castro to con the Cuban people into believing that the United States is to blame for their penury and by ending the ban on Americans traveling to Cuba.
Dictatorship in Cuba wouldn’t last long if the United States ended the isolation of the Cuban people. An end to counterproductive restrictions on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba would also end the political blackmail indulged in by Cuban-American politicians, to the detriment of the vast majority of the Cuban people and on both sides of the Florida Straits.