Commentary: Ending Cuba embargo would benefit California

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

As the nation's top food-producing state, California would benefit if the United States ended its failed Cuba embargo policy. For now, Canada and Europe mostly serve that lucrative international market.

On the lighter side, ending the embargo would allow Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to legally import his favorite Cuban cigars – Cohiba, Punch, Romeo y Julietas, Hoyo de Monterrey – instead of having them treated as contraband.

If the United States were allowed to capitalize on them, opportunities for expanded trade and relations abound. President Barack Obama, on his first trip to Latin America for the Summit of the Americas, said he saw "potential positive signs" of better relations with Cuba.

Before the summit, he made a welcome policy change by lifting travel and money-transfer restrictions for Cuban Americans. But his policy does not include all Americans, which is a major flaw. And it doesn't go far enough in overturning the failed trade and travel embargo in place since 1960. That policy has done nothing to dislodge the Castro regime. Instead, it has simply allowed Cuba to make the United States the scapegoat for its problems.

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