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Originally published December 22, 2009 at 3:48 PM | Page modified December 22, 2009 at 6:01 PM

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End the U.S. embargo of Cuba

The Seattle Times editorial board calls for the end of the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

SEN. Maria Cantwell calls our attention to a law, signed by President Obama, allowing Cuba to buy U.S. farm produce and pay after the goods are shipped. The law reverses a Treasury ruling during the Bush years that Cuba had to pay in advance — a ruling that stopped the trade altogether.

This page favors the new law, which will allow a few of our state's farmers to make a little bit of money. But we would go much further. We would end altogether the embargo, which was imposed under President Kennedy almost a half-century ago.

We would allow Cuba to buy U.S. foodstuffs, and most other products, under normal commercial rules. We would allow Americans to visit Cuba without threatening them with fines under the Trading With the Enemy Act. We would repeal the Helms-Burton Act and allow Americans to invest in Cuba, and we would allow some Cuban investment here. We would allow the importation of Cuban sugar and other lawful products.

We suggest this not because we support the system in Cuba, but because we support the rights of Americans to make their own decisions about it. For almost half a century, the United States has restricted the rights of Americans in order to bring down Castro and communism. The policy has done neither. It doesn't seem to have done any good at all. Certainly it has harmed ordinary people in Cuba.

Fifty years is enough. Sens. Cantwell and Patty Murray, who support trade and travel with Cuba, can afford to be much bolder on this issue. Only one state loves the embargo, and it is time Florida was outvoted.

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