It is appropriate that the Caribbean Guide included with the 1/14/99 issue of Travel Weekly spotlights senior editor Gay Nagle Myers' firsthand report on Cuba (Click here for full story).

Only last week, the Clinton administration, heeding the advice of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, grudgingly nudged ajar the door to increased contact between the U.S. and the stubbornly Marxist country.

Although the economic and social embargo imposed on Fidel Castro's Cuba 37 years ago remains very much in force, the U.S. has agreed to allow an easier flow of money to aid Cuban families, to increase charter passenger flights linking the two countries -- expanding the points of embarkation for those flights beyond the previously mandated Miami and Havana -- and to renew direct-mail service.

There is even the prospect of baseball, with the Baltimore Orioles, capitalists all, road-tripping to Havana to play the hometown club, the Cuban national team -- at least what's left of it after notable defections to the majors have stripped it of several top players.

For all that, the Clinton administration's moves seem a day late and a dollar short to those who were hoping for a more liberal and liberating policy vis a vis Cuba.

We take that view.

If the U.S. truly desires to effect a positive change in Cuba, the time seems long past for the dated diplomacy of isolation -- and with it the remorseless embargo that has done far more damage to average Cubans than to their bombastic leader.

We believe the best way to encourage the democratic process in Cuba is to permit Americans to travel there without restriction. Given its head, tourism would boom, fostering social, political and economic contacts that have in the past helped open even the most resolutely closed societies.

Allow our citizens to be our best and most effective ambassadors.

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