(Oct. 9) After more than four decades, it’s time for the U.S. to remove its trade embargo of Cuba.

That message was driven home during the Sept. 26-30 U.S. Food & Agribusiness Exhibition in Havana, a show that attracted nearly 300 U.S. companies and associations, including several produce concerns, and generated new sales to Cuba estimated at $60 million to $90 million. Story, Page A1

Let’s face it: The trade embargo, designed to bring Fidel Castro to his knees, has failed.

Castro remains in power, and his reign appears as tight as ever. And other countries, including many U.S. allies spanning the globe, trade with the island nation less than 100 miles from Florida. Even more important, U.S. agricultural companies, always in need of new markets, want to do business with Cuba and its 11 million citizens.

And they want to do it before it’s too late — before their competitors from other nations have established such strong relationships with Castro’s government that Cuba would be a difficult market to crack.

U.S. policy toward Cuba has been puzzling ever since Castro gained power after leading the revolution in the 1950s. Yes, it’s understandable that U.S. presidents and congresses have viewed the communist nation so close to the border of the land of the free as a thorn in their side.

And, yes, reparations should be made to U.S. companies that had their land and operations seized after the revolution.

But, with the exception of the missile crisis in the early ’60s, no one can rightly claim that Cuba threatens U.S. security.

Yet the embargo remains, even as presidents, congresses and corporate America have embraced trade with China, also a communist dictatorship and a much more menacing presence on the world stage.

Why? There are two simple reasons: China can provide cheap goods to the U.S., and the Asian giant is home to more than billion consumers. Both are irresistible to the U.S.

It’s time for such hypocrisy to end. It’s time to give U.S. companies a chance to compete in a neighboring market. It’s time to lift trade restrictions with Cuba.