THE SMOKING LIGHT IS LIT: A young Fidel Castro with a Cuban cigar, no legally obtainable in the U.S.

A prisoner exchange sets the stage for a planned announcement today by President Obama that the U.S. and Cuba will enter talks on normalizing the countries’ relationship. This could include trade as well as diplomatic relationships.

Sen. Marco Rubio has instant criticism, saying this would aid the Castro regime but do little about human rights abuses in Cuba.


The U.S. isn’t in a perfect position to lecture on human rights, what with recent further confirmation of use of torture on innocent people. But apart from that: The quickest way to temper the Cuban regime is to open the country’s doors to more Coca-Cola and capitalism. We deal with equal and worse despots around the globe, while isolating a neighbor 90 miles away with enormous familial ties with America.

UPDATE: Here’s the White House explanation of what’s in store.

ALSO: The New York Times report indicates the pope played a role. Trade with Cuba could mean good news for Arkansas farmers, several have noted. For now, the embargo remains in effect but the Obama administration would welcome congressional action to ease it.

Ordinary tourism remains prohibited, but there will be easing in the 12 categories of visits now allowed, which include some cultural travel. U.S. citizens can now legally bring back up to $100 worth of cigars from Cuban trips.