Fidel Castro has been touring the Caribbean this summer. His stated purpose is to improve relations with his neighbors. But in reality, he's in the middle of a major campaign to lift the 36-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba.
However, many of Castro's most vocal critics in Congress, in the Clinton administration, and among American voters are a long way from convinced. So long as Castro oppresses the Cuban people, they say the embargo must stand. For many it's a moral, not political, issue.
Castro has been invited to the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, and Grenada, where Castro once tried to install a communist government. At every stop, he's being hailed as a champion of Caribbean rights - even by countries that once ostracized him.
Castro wants to show Washington and the world that he is no longer a pariah. The pope will meet with him; so will his neighbors. American businesses are itching to get into Cuba. Tourists from Canada and Europe are already there. And it's not revolution, but medicine and sugar that Castro hopes to export now.
Castro's campaign to lift the embargo has taken on new urgency in recent months. A summer drought has devastated Cuba's sugar crop--the foundation of the island's fragile economy.
As Castro barnstorms and grandstands, expect more pressure to lift the embargo - and more heated resistance from Castro's opponents.