The electonic sign went up in 2006, serving Cubans as a portal to the outside world, and in some opinions, as a giant middle finger to the control-minded Castro Administration. Taking it down no doubt pleases the communist dictatorship, but what exactly did the brothers Castro do to deserve such a gesture?
Negotiation -- whether with the vendor at the local flea market or on the international stage -- is about give and take. One side makes one offer, the other counters. It's never a good idea to negotiate with oneself, without some concession from the other side.
Okay, the electronic bulletin board was not exactly a digital version of the Berlin Wall. But, so what?
Shouldn't the Obama administration have gotten some form of reform overture from the Cuban government before unilaterally turning the pro-U.S., pro-capitalism, pro-freedom ticker off? The United States had already made its own overture towards Cuba. Earlier this year, President Obama announced a lightening of the embargo, allowing family members greater travel rights -- and the ability to send money transfers to relatives.
What has the Castro regime, even the "new" one under brother Raul, offered the United States -- or the Cuban people, for that matter -- as a gesture to show that it's interested in rejoining the civilized nations of the Western hemisphere? Nada. Indeed, it still violates most international labor and human agreements.
Yes, there is growing consensus in the United States that the entire embargo needs to be lifted. However, symbolism does matter. If the Obama administration keeps giving up whatever non-economic measures that it has at its disposal -- and the ticker counts as one of those -- Fidel, Raul and company will have no incentive to start loosening the strings of this oppressive regime.