Sunday, September 19, 2010

Communism is dying in Cuba: The US should end the embargo now.

This week Cuba took another big step toward ending Communism. The Cuban government announced it will dismiss more than 500,000 workers — 10 percent of its payroll — and will allow a major expansion of private economic activity.

Since Fidel Castro’s ill health and retirement, we have seen positive change taking place in Cuba. The government has legalized private taxicabs, it has given individuals the deed to their homes, it has allowed Cubans to own cell phones, it has permitted Cubans to stay in luxury hotels, and it has encouraged and expanded private farms. These changes are significant and encouraging. This announcement about cutting the government payroll and allowing greater private sector economic activity is another significant development. The U.S. government should announce that due to these positive developments we are immediately ending the travel restriction and trade embargo of Cuba.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and perhaps as far back as the Nixon opening to China, our policy toward Cuba has been wrong-headed, illogical, and counterproductive. Communism would have probably ended in Cuba years ago if we had ended the embargo.

The embargo of Cuba began in 1960. The intent was to pressure Castro to democratize. The policy failed. Instead, it had the result of pushing Cuba further into the arms of the Soviet Union. The embargo made a martyr out of Castro and helped prop up his regime. Cuba has been able to blame all of their failings on the United States and the embargo rather than Castro’s socialist policies.

I realize that Cuba is still a Communist dictatorship but I don’t think we need to wait until Cuba establishes democracy before we lift the embargo. We did not wait for democracy to flourish in China or Vietnam before we engaged in trade with those nations. We did not demand that China and Vietnam free all political prisoners before we normalized relations. While neither China nor Vietnam are perfect democracies, neither are they orthodox Communist nations. Our engagement and trade surely contributed to the liberalization in those two countries.

If the US would end the embargo and travel restrictions, we would see an acceleration of Cuba’s transformation. If American dollars could flow freely to Cuba, we would see concession on the part of Cuba to accommodate investors. With opportunities to make money, we would see an evolving Cuban entrepreneurial class. With more dollars to spend, Cubans would not be dependent on the government for everything, other spheres of influence would emerge, and the socialist totalitarian mold would be broken.

Our policy toward Cuba has been a failure and we should end the embargo now. Cuba is changing despite the policy of the United States. We should help accelerate the change that is taking place in Cuba by ending the travel restrictions and trade embargo. Lifting the embargo will not change us, but it will change Cuba. The cold war is over. Lift the embargo now.

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1 comment:

  1. Why lift the embargo ? Until communism is dead, it has not completled what it had been put in place for.
    Until Castro is sent out in shame, and the people are in control of their country, then there should be no talk of lifting the embargo.