In 1977, photographer Kent Kobersteen and I went to Cuba to report for the Minneapolis Tribune on a brief visit to the island by a delegation from the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. As a result of a great deal of pushing and finagling, Kobersteen and I were allowed to stay in Cuba for three weeks after that delegation and the rest of the accompanying news media returned to the United States.
We became the first American journalists to travel widely and freely in Cuba in 17 years, preceding some high-profile television personalities by several months. I've paid close attention to Cuba and our relationship with that island nation ever since.
The major lesson I brought home from that intense reporting experience was that the U.S. trade embargo and accompanying policies were profoundly stupid and counterproductive. Those policies have remained in effect for more than 50 years now, and through all that time have continued to be foolish and counter to any and all professed American goals, including those of the fanatically anti-Castro, anti-communist people and corporations that have supported them. They have done immeasurable harm to this country and to the people of Cuba.
I've found the presidency of Barack Obama frustrating and disappointing in many respects, but his actions on Cuba are enough to redeem many of his failings. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower should have had the guts to do what he has done, but none did. Bravo, Mr. President!