Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Opening Trade With Cuba

Last week Congress declined to make any changes to the current policy towards Cuba. But not everyone is happy. A number of agricultural interests are strongly voicing their opposition to the policy, saying they should be allowed to freely sell their goods to Cuba.

Food and agricultural products from the U.S. can be sold in Cuba but a new rule adopted in 2004 forces the Cuban government to pay for the food in whole before it leaves U.S. ports. This new policy has made Cuba decide to look elsewhere for food supplies, thus costing U.S. suppliers. This change along with the other provision of the embargo are what’s upsetting U.S. agricultural interests.

They have very valid points. Why aren’t they allowed to trade openly with Cuba? After all, we have no strict embargos against Vietnam or China and they’re still communist nations with serious human rights problems. In fact, the opening of markets is believed by many to be an integral step in increasing freedoms. Why wouldn’t this apply to Cuba?

Fidel Castro is a butcher and his authoritarian government is responsible for countless murders and continues to imprison and punish dissidents to this day. But Cuba is not any more despicable than many of the world’s other authoritarian states with whom we trade. Either we believe such anti-democratic states should be punished with embargoes or we believe they can be changed though open markets. One policy for Cuba and one for most other authoritarian nations makes little sense.

I, for one, believe embargoes against authoritarian regimes end up hurting the people far more than they hurt the tyrant in charge. I also think there is validity in the belief that free markets can help create the conditions for free people. We should start the process of opening up trade with Cuba. It could be very good for the people of both nations.


At 5:27 PM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

The point is made that we must have a consistent approach to dealing with oppressive regimes. I believe pragmatism is going to be far more effective tool against these governments. That being said this stick hasn't worked for 40 years, its time to give the carrot a try.

At 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but the policy does EXACTLY what it is designed to do: win votes in south Florida for US politicians. Period. So it will get changed for only one of two reasons:
- the Cuban exiles finally die off (and their children, or grandchildren, are no longer fanatics on the subject of "punishing" Cuba),
- the agricultural lobby makes clear that there are more votes in allowing trade than in an embargo.

With luck, that's what is starting to happen. But the fact that it will be good for the people of Cuba, and will help eventually turf out a noxious regime, won't be what makes the difference.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Joe Weedon said...

Isolationist policies only serve to hurt the citizens of the country in question, rarely are the leaders hurt. In fact, in many cases -- Cuba is really the best -- the leadership uses the sanctions as a tool to prop up their regime. For years, Castro has used the sanctions the US has imposed to his advantage. A true revolution can only begin once the people understand the truth about his regime and the damage it has brought to the country.

At 12:06 AM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...

We would do best by opening trade with Cuba BEFORE Castro dies. Any move afterward would be construed as a slap against Castro. Before he dies, and his death could work as a signal for change.

Strange concept I know, but in my twisted little mind it makes perfect sense.

At 6:45 PM, Anonymous JimRomano said...

The US will not lift sanctions on Cuba until after Castro dies, not because his is an oppressive regime, which it certainly is, but because it would be admitting that he won. The state department has long feared Cuba being a model of resistance to US domination of the Southern America's, and will not allow its government to flourish economically if it can help it. Castro's major crime has not been his human rights abuses, but the fact that he nationalized Cuban industries, kicking out US corporations as he did so. Witness US opposition to Chavez in Venezuala, and his friendship with...Castro.

I agree it would make sense to end the embargo, but also makes sense not to. Castro will be gone soon enough-


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