In April, Western Hemisphere heads of state will meet in Panama City for the seventh Summit of the Americas. Latin American governments insisted that Cuba, the Caribbean’s most populous island and one of the most educated societies in the hemisphere, be invited, breaking with its traditional exclusion at the insistence of Washington.
Given the many crises around the world, the White House may want to avoid a major shift in Cuba policy. Yet engaging with Cuba and starting to unlock the potential of its citizens could end up being among the administration’s most consequential foreign-policy legacies.
Normalizing relations with Havana would improve Washington’s relationships with governments in Latin America, and resolve an irritant that has stymied initiatives in the hemisphere. The Obama administration is leery of Cuba’s presence at the meeting and Mr. Obama has not committed to attending. He must — and he should see it as an opportunity to make history.