February 19

Having recently returned from Cuba, I was saddened to read The Post’s Feb. 17 editorial “Cuban reality,” which suggested that the United States should not “reward” any Cuban effort to change until the Castros cease all repression of dissidents. Our government deals with repressive regimes on every continent, including Russia and China. Acknowledging and rewarding positive efforts toward democratization and pressing for the end of human rights abuses has proved to accelerate democratic change in repressive regimes.

The 11 million Cuban people, who live 90 miles from our shore, have long endured domination. Now is their hour to create a democratic society. We need to find creative ways to support them in their efforts. Yes, the Castro brothers are intent on retaining power, but they are not long for this world. 

Dana Greene, Alexandria

In his Feb. 16 Outlook article, “The cost of the Obama Dialogues,” Michael Rubin did not mention the progress made by the Obama administration in talking to the military junta in Burma — arguably the only Asian foreign policy success of the Obama administration. Many members of Congress, human rights activists and expatriate Burmese wanted no talks with the military, arguing that talks would help to legitimize a ruling faction they regarded as illegitimate. Yet, in spite of human rights abuses, a clearly manipulated referendum on the 2008 constitution and November 2010 elections that could only be described as unfair, a government has come into power that has transformed that state for the better.

Dialogue with those leaders has produced results beyond most observers’ highest expectations. Perhaps we should learn from this.

David I. Steinberg, Bethesda