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.