Regarding your Feb. 9 editorial US-Cuba relations, “Cuba’s reforms pave way for new US policy, too”: As a former Coast Guard aviator, my only Cuban experience was flying missions in and out of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Then, 14 years ago, as a corporate pilot, I was fortunate to fly senior members of the Catholic Church into Havana. They were attempting to continue the work started by the visit of Pope John Paul II, who had met recently with Fidel Castro. The people and culture made an indelible impression, with their music, optimism, and not-so-secret hope that someday relations with the United States could be different.
Yes, the residual failures of communism were evident, the newest American cars I saw were ’59 Chevys, doctors were working driving cabs, and people were generally lacking the comforts that we enjoy. But everyone has health care. Literacy is at about 98 percent. One feels extremely safe on the streets.