Our relations with Cuba have been a mess for a long, long time. It’s not worth going through all the reasons why, or pointing fingers. It’s all water under the bridge now.
What matters is how things are now. And now Cuba is still a socialist dictatorship. It’s not clear exactly how we should deal with countries like that.
Some advocate for having no diplomatic relations, no travel, and no trade. They argue that we should deal with dictators by isolating them and sanctioning them until the people demand change. Others advocate a normalization of relations, arguing that the more travel and trade we have with a county, the more likely it is that the country — its people and its leaders — will start to behave like productive parts of the world community.
Since 1961, we have generally dealt with Cuba by isolating them. This hasn’t worked. The same strategy didn’t work against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea, or anybody else we’ve tried it with. Although I like the idea of isolating dictators and retrograde socialist countries, it just doesn’t work.
President Barack Obama took steps to begin normalizing relations with Cuba. Formal diplomatic relations were restored in 2015. President Donald Trump has begun reversing these steps.
Although I have no love for the Cuban regime, I remain unconvinced that we will ever change it by isolating it. It’s time to try another approach. Although we should be cautious, Obama was generally on the right track. I want more American goods, and more American people, flowing into Cuba.
Normalizing our relations with the People’s Republic of China had overall positive impacts on China…a slow, but steady, loosening of the noose of communism. I’m inclined to think that, with time, the same will happen in Cuba.
Although Mexico is an important trade partner — and trade with Mexico has been mutually beneficial — we must demand that the Mexican government do more to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, drugs, contraband, and more across our southern border.
President Donald Trump has taken steps to compel Mexico’s cooperation on border security, with mixed results. He is heading in the right direction. I want Mexico to continue as a trading partner. I want them and us to benefit mutually from our good relations. But Mexico must put a stop to the border crossings.
No more criminals, no more coyotes and sex trafficking, no more kids dying in the desert, no more drugs. It has to stop. And Mexico needs to play a major role in stopping it.
If the Mexican government is unwilling to do their job and work with us on this, then we will have to start taking punitive steps. Sealing the border, as proposed by President Trump, would be too drastic a first step, but financial and economic sanctions need to be on the table.
Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory in the Caribbean. It is the largest U.S. territory, and has a population roughly equal to that of the state of Connecticut.
The people of Puerto Rico voted in a nonbinding referendum in 2012 that they want to become a U.S. state. However, due to the odd structure of the referendum, there is some question as to its legitimacy. Another referendum in 2017 clearly favored statehood, but had historically low turnout which also undermines its legitimacy.
I propose that Congress enact a binding resolution to enable Puerto Rican statehood, pending the outcome of a simple yes/no referendum with at least fifty percent turnout: “Should Puerto Rico become the fifty-first U.S. state.” If the people of Puerto Rico want the territory to become a state, then it should.
It may be necessary to develop some kind of bipartisan deal to maintain the approximate balance in the U.S. Senate. Puerto Rico would be an almost-guaranteed increase of two votes for Democrats in the Senate.
Since there is no reasonably populated, Republican-leaning territory that could be admitted in tandem with Puerto Rico, the answer might be to split an existing Democratic-leaning state in half, leaving the more Republican-leaning parts of the state as a newly independent state (thus giving Republicans two new Senate seats as well). An obvious candidate would be California, where there are many Republicans in rural areas that are essentially disenfranchised in the state’s Senate delegation (and its presidential elector delegation, for that matter). Perhaps the legislature of California could be convinced to cooperate.
In any case, we would need to do a lot of wheeling-and-dealing, as is often the case when considering the admission of new states. But the principle of self determination applies here; if Puerto Ricans really want their territory to become a state, then we should make it happen.
Venezuela is a mess. The socialist government has bankrupted itself, as socialists governments always do…and although the people are trying to enact change, the government is fighting them.
Former President Nicolás Maduro, who was legitimately elected in 2013, claims to have been reelected in 2018, but that election is generally considered a sham. The Venezuelan National Assembly did not certify the results. Maduro held an inauguration ceremony in January of 2019, but he is not the legitimate president. The National Assembly, recognizing that the office of president was vacant, elevated the President of the National Assembly to the national presidency in accordance with the Venezuelan constitution. Since then, Juan Guaidó has been the legitimate acting president of Venezuela.
The United States, and many of the world’s other governments, recognize Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. And he is.
It’s not our job to be the world’s police force except when absolutely necessary. But it is appropriate for us to lend support to the people fighting for freedom, the rule of law, and human rights. We should not commit troops or other military support in the Venezuelan civil war — at least not yet — but we should formally support the Guaidó government and work for the overthrow of the illegitimate Maduro regime.