The United States and Cuba are going to open embassies in Havana and Washington D.C., possibly before the end of July, as they seek to normalize relations after a 60 year trade embargo by the United States failed to topple Fidel Castro’s regime. His brother Raul has been running the country since 2008 when Fidel stepped aside due to an illness.

This is wonderful news. I lived in Havana for six years when I was a kid and have many fond memories. I learned English and Spanish at the same time and do not recall not being able to speak Spanish. My father was a Foreign Service Officer stationed in Havana. We left Cuba as Fidel Castro’s revolution against Batista was getting started. He was a horrible dictator in thrall to the United States, many of its corporations, and the Mafia. He exploited his people ruthlessly suppressing dissent.

I never agreed with the embargo or breaking diplomatic relations. I think such steps are always counterproductive and usually only hurt the poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized. Children often suffer the worst as was the case in Iraq during the embargo imposed by the Clinton administration. Approximately one million children died in Iraq. I believe countries should always maintain diplomatic relations, especially during troubled times. Peaceful resolutions to conflict are impossible without communication.

Go here for a summary of the players and the issues by NBC News.

I can hardly wait to touch down on Cuban soil.

Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.