Thursday, November 03, 2005
On this day:

Trading with Fidel

Alabama agricultural commissioner Ron Sparks has been in Havana this week for the International Fair of Havana, where he has signed deals "to sell $19 million worth of chicken, minced meat and wooden utility poles to the Cuban government."

Maybe that's a good thing, maybe not. Whether and how much to trade with Castro's communist government is a complicated issue that raises lots of tough questions. For instance, does the increased trade serve to make things better for the people of Cuba or does it merely prop up the brutal dictatorship of Fidel Castro? I wonder how often Ron Sparks and others who support trade with Cuba have asked themselves that question.

If he gets some free time while he's in Havana, Mr. Sparks might consider meeting with Cubas "Ladies in White," who just last week were awarded the EU's Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. That would certainly offend Fidel Castro, but it would demonstrate that Alabamians' willingness to trade with Cuba is tempered by their moral outrage over the brutal treatment of Cuban dissidents. It appears, though, that Mr. Sparks' singular purpose on this trip is to bring money back home to Alabama; and as has been the case so often - Cuba's dissidents are merely an unwelcome distraction.