On the cusp of change in Cuba

For the 50-plus years that Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, have ruled Cuba, the words "Cuban capitalism" were an oxymoron. Cuba was a state with a centralized economy in which private enterprise was discredited. No more. A recent announcement that the government - employer of well over 90 percent of Cubans - soon will fire about half a million workers and tell them to find private-sector jobs signals a major shift in economic and political philosophy. It is, as well, an opportunity for the United States to establish useful ties to Cuba.

The Cuban government can no longer maintain a state-run economy. It's likely that it never has been able to do so. Large infusions of cash from ideological supporters allowed Cuba to sustain its people over the years.