Keep a close eye on Cuba

Here are excerpts from editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:

July 31

The Tulsa (Okla.) World, on Cuba-American relationships:

The recent fainting spell of Cuba's Fidel Castro should send a signal to the United States and a shudder down the spine of Cuba-watchers. Bush pledged during the campaign and since his election that he will tighten the 40-year-old embargo on Cuba, which unfortunately hurts no one but the Cuban people.

When the 75-year-old Castro finally dies -- it's unlikely that he will voluntarily step down; few dictators do -- there will be a power struggle among his hand- picked bureaucrats.

A peaceful market economy and eventual democracy is the hoped-for scenario. But to see that happen, the United States must not continue to unnecessarily punish Cuba.

The four-decade embargo has not loosened Castro's grip. It has merely forced the Cuban people into horrible poverty and given Castro an excuse to blame the United States.

The only hope for Cuba is a gradual opening of relations with the United States. More trade means more economic hope for the Cubans. Open political discussions could establish a link to Castro's successor.

Closer, more open ties with Cuba, not more isolation, is the key to life in Cuba after Castro

July 29

Journal and Courier, Lafayette, Ind., on juvenile sentences:

By the time Nathaniel Brazil, 14, of Florida serves his 28-year sentence in the shooting death of schoolteacher Barry Grunow, the world as we know it will be a very different place. Indeed, it may be hardly recognizable.

Who knows? By the year 2029, Americans could be driving solar-power automobiles, eating tofu burgers at McDonald's, vacationing in space, or marveling at the Cubs' third World Series victory in as many decades.

What we do know is that Nathaniel, if he survives the ordeal of a 28-year sentence without time off for good behavior, will never have had the opportunity to graduate with his peers, go to college, meet someone special and perhaps marry, have kids, and watch them grow up to be 14-year-olds.

Is that right or is that wrong? The answer is for us to decide. And we owe it to both the victims and the perpetrators to consider such questions with logic and compassion and not, as Nathaniel did, shoot from the hip.

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