To the Editor:

Re “The Moment to Restore Ties to Cuba” (editorial, Oct. 12) and “Still Pondering U.S.-Cuba Relations, Fidel Castro Responds” (Editorial Observer, by Ernesto Londoño, Oct. 15):

Latin America and the Caribbean require a closer involvement of the United States, and Cuba has been an obstacle in recent years, when the leaders of the region promote its inclusion in their organizations and meetings, such as the Summit of the Americas to be held in Panama in 2015.

President Obama must be there to express the ideals of democracy and human rights, contribute to solving the most urgent problems and strengthen ties with neighbors. Russia, China and others are advancing in Latin America, seeking to displace the United States.

Since the Obama administration started the people-to-people policy in 2009, encouraging exchanges between Americans and Cubans, a lot has changed. Remittances from relatives and friends help thousands of Cubans to survive and even open small businesses.

More important, Cubans are feeling empowered by exchanges of views with Cuban-Americans coming to visit and Americans on cultural, academic, scientific, religious, sport and trade trips. Cubans who travel to the United States discover the opportunities offered by democracy and work.

Further steps by President Obama would help the Cuban people, civil society and dissidents. It is not just a matter of discussing whether to have an embargo, although the embargo must be lifted, but of making the appropriate decisions at the right time. The moment is ripe.

Fidel Castro, in citing the New York Times editorial, is delighted to be back in the headlines and wants the credit in case of a turn in Cuban-American relations.

MIRIAM LEIVA
Havana, Oct. 16, 2014

The writer, an independent journalist, was a co-founder of Ladies in White, an opposition group.



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