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By Staff | Jan 9, 2015

Cuba is not a democracy yet we have normal diplomatic relations with a number of non-democratic countries and some of them, such as Egypt, are far more oppressive in terms of killing protestors and detaining opposition than Cuba.

Cuban dictators, the Castros, are aging and there are signs that things are changing in Cuba. Workers can now be employed in the private sector and are now allowed to own some property.

Increased commercial interaction will have a positive benefit to improve relations between Cuba and the U.S. President Obama’s action to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba was generally well received by the U.S. public which has long favored such a move.

Fifty-four percent of Americans, in a CBS poll, favor re-establishing both diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba which would mean ending the trade embargo which can only be done by Congress.

Just 28 percent oppose this. That is the minority that the Republicans who control Congress represent however so the embargo will remain in place for the time being.

Ironically, that is about the same result from polls before the President’s action so little was changed in terms of public sentiment by it.

I am sure that the President supports lifting the trade embargo, but that will come only after no negative results from the expanding diplomatic contact occur. More Americans will travel to Cuba and how they are received and the relations that result will gauge how quickly more interaction in other sectors occurs.

Obama took a first step of what hopefully will be a good journey. Americans are tired of the acrimony between the U.S. and Cuba. Given our proximity it is really stupid.

Remember that Fidel did not overturn a democracy. He just replaced a corrupt dictatorship that feigned being a democracy. The Castros and Cuba have great reasons to end what has been a foolish 50 years of antagonism with the U.S. Their reasons are self-serving. Their allies from the Cold War failed and Cuba’s Russian benefactor is struggling under Putin’s dictatorship.

Another commie which has been Cuba’s sugar daddy, Venezuela, is also poised for financial collapse as its oil revenue plunges. They now have bigger problems taking care of themselves than to worry about Cuba.

The Castros are being cut adrift in what is an American geopolitical lake where the U.S. dollar has the confidence of the world as a storehouse of wealth. Cuba cannot remain isolated from the U.S. and prosper.

China is also run by a communist party that has adapted to a market economy in order to succeed economically. They also provide the example that limited personal liberty may be derived from this.

Economic progress is their best means of reducing political dissent.

I believe that a transformation of Cuba is taking place. After a visit from Pope John Paul in 1998, the Cuban government made Christmas an official holiday. Fidel warmly met the Pope on his visit in civilian dress and announced a holiday so that Cubans could attend the papal events.

The Catholic Church has been working as an intermediary between both President Obama and the Castros that produced the normalization of diplomatic relations that is occurring. The work of John Paul was picked up by Pope Francis who had accompanied him on his 1998 trip to Cuba and has had a lot of experience with dictatorships including his own home country of Argentina.

After meeting with President Obama, Pope Francis put three top Vatican officials to work on convincing the Castros to agree to new relations with the U.S.

Fidel has expressed his support for Catholicism as he claims to see Marxism as being similar to Christianity. Latin America is excited about the thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

In Brazil they rehashed this old joke – in the afterglow of the Cuban revolution Che Guevara asked Fidel Castro, “Do you think the Americans will ever lift their embargo against us?” Staring out somewhere into the distance, Castro said, “Forget it Che. The chances of the sanctions ending are as good as a black man becoming the American President or an Argentine going to the Vatican as Pope.”

I think that all of this is a sign that the world is changing and not all for the worse.

My granddaughter was baptized recently and I heard Pope Francis strongly praised from the Lutheran Pulpit with an enthusiasm I would have never expected. I heard the Vatican touted as center of global Christian leadership … from the Lutheran pulpit. I agree and have described Pope Francis as the biggest change to the Catholic Church since Martin Luther.

There are Republicans who oppose normalizing relations with Cuba frankly because President Obama would get the credit. Now, if a Lutheran pastor could praise the Pope and the Catholic Church when they do good work, one would think that Republicans could find a way to do likewise with Obama.

The U.S. business sector has been working like the Vatican to promote the thawing of relations and opening of trade. Cuban cigars should become less scarce in the U.S. Cuban banks can now open accounts in U.S. banks.

MasterCard and Visa will process transactions from Cuba. The current trade embargo made exception for U.S. food and medicine exports to Cuba, but that trade would expand with the end of the embargo.

Fifty-four years is long enough.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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