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It’s Time To End The U.S. Embargo Of Cuba

Diana Nyad

Responding to a piece by Carlos Alberto Montaner arguing for the continuance of the status quo when it comes to U.S.. policy toward Cuba, Daniel Larison argues quite persuasively in the opposite direction that it’s long past time for the United States to rethink its policy toward a nation just 90 miles off its shores:

[There is] truly no merit to continuing the embargo. This is a policy that has achieved nothing except to provide the Castro regime with some ready-made propaganda and to deprive the people of Cuba of the benefits of a closer economic relationship with the United States. Bringing the embargo to an end and resuming normal relations with Cuba are steps that are long overdue, and neither the administration nor members of Congress should be concerned with what a few unrepresentative politicians think about it.

It’s very important to get past the idea that having normal diplomatic relations with another state implies some sort of approval or “reward” for their treatment of their own people. Establishing normal relations with another government is an acknowledgment of political reality that the regime in question is well-established and not going anywhere, and it is a means to exercise influence that would otherwise not be possible. The U.S. has full diplomatic relations with China and Vietnam. The U.S. fought both in major wars, and no one would pretend that their governments are anything but authoritarian and abusive, but none of this was a compelling reason to oppose normalization in those cases. There is even less reason to oppose establishing normal relations with Cuba.

Larison is correct. To the extent that there ever was a rationale for the embargo and not establishing normal diplomatic relations, it was rooted in the Cold War rivalry with the Soviet Union and the fact that, for the better part of the 1960’s the United States continued to consider plans that would result in the overthrow of the Castro regime, including the assassination of Castro himself through various CIA plots that sometimes bordered on the ridiculous. After the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, of course, the idea that we were going to actively overthrow the Havana government was largely a pipe dream that was dragged out by politicians catering to the Cuban-American population in South Florida in elsewhere but which was never considered realistic policy largely because of the impact that it would have had on relations with the Soviet Union. Of course, the fact that we had a diplomatic relationship with the Soviets, and by the 1970s with the Chinese, and continued to pretend that the Cuban Government didn’t exist was really quite absurd. The economic embargo, in the meantime, was based on the same logic that other economic sanctions are based on; the idea that punishing the people of a country that we are adversaries with will somehow create the political conditions that will lead to the downfall of that government. There’s never been any real evidence that such a strategy can work, of course, and in fact it has failed every other time it has been tried. Even in the context of the Cold War then, the embargo and diplomatic isolation of the Cuba never made any sense whatsoever and seemed to exist more for domestic political consumption than for any rational policy reason.

If the embargo and diplomatic isolation made no sense during the Cold War, then these policies obviously make no sense today, more than two decades after the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed. Yes, Cuba is still ruled by the Castro brothers and there are still human rights issues to be concerned about, but there are plenty of nations that we have normal diplomatic and economic relationships with that have issues like this, Saudi Arabia comes to mind for example. We also have diplomatic relationships with nations that we consider adversaries, most of them far more serious adversaries than Cuba is at this point. As for the economic embargo, its potentcy as made far less relevant in the years after the Cold War as much of Europe and other American allies such as Canada expanded their economic contacts with Cuba and began investing there. At this point, the people being hurt by the Cuban economic embargo, in addition to the Cuban people of course, are Americans who are losing out on business opportunities to competitors from other parts of the world who recognize the potential that Cuba represents, if not immediately today then someday in the future. The fact that we’re talking about a nation that is only 90 miles off the Florida coastline, which would seem to make it a natural market for American goods and tourists, just makes the entire policy even more absurd.

At this point, of course, what’s keeping the policy alive is politics. Republicans aren’t going to let the embargo be lifted any more than it already has been for ideological reasons that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, and even politicians on the right who recognize the absurdity of the embargo aren’t going to say anything for fear of offending what’s left of that portion of the Cuban-American population in Florida that still sees the nation as rightfully theirs even though they haven’t lived their in generations now. That kind of politics is no way to run a country or international economic policy, of course, but it would appear to be what we’re stuck with. Just once, though, I’d like to see a politician with the guts to call our 50 year policy toward Cuba out for the stupidity on stilts that it actually is.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    I used to live in Miami…and I always marveled at the Cubans who would whine incessantly about Castro…but chose to sit back and let him keep their country rather than actually do something about it.
    I’ve been to Gitmo a couple times…Cuba is a beautiful Island. There’s probably a lot of money to be made by normalizing relations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  2. Ron Beasley says:

    The only reason it is still in effect is Florida’s electoral votes. That may be changing – less than 40% of the Hispanics in Miami are now Cubans and of those many of the young ones no longer support the embargo and the old Cuban oligarchs are dying off.. Not too surprisingly Ted Cruz is is the biggest hypocrite of all – his father fought with Castro.
    The only reason the Castro s are still in power is because of the embargo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. Paul Hooson says:

    Cuba has not proven itself to be constructive Communists like the Chinese, Vietnamese or from Laos, who have friendly relations with the U.S. and encourage trade. The Castro brothers continue to rule Cuba more like a Stalinist state like North Korea. – BTW, the per capita income in South Korea is around $32,000 a year compared to $0.50 to $1.50 a month in North Korea. In Cuba, the average income is around $20 a month. In China, factory wages are now often $2 a hour. – Many years ago, the Cuban Communists needed to reform, seek trade and positive relations with the U.S. – I think the Castro brothers need to pass away before that happens. Raul Castro is hardly a Mikhail Gorbachev-type Communist reformer….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. James Pearce says:

    This sounds like a job for our newly elected Republican congress.

    (Ah, who am I kidding? In all seriousness, though, a thaw is long overdue.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  5. humanoid.panda says:

    @Paul Hooson: Dude, if not for the embargo, the scary Cuban Bolsheviks would have been long ago refitted Fidel Castro and his beard as a fake Santa Claus for American tourists to take pictures with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  6. Scott says:

    The quickest way to end Communist rule would be to end the embargo and open up Cuba. There is nothing more revolutionizing than capitalism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  7. Paul Hooson says:

    @humanoid.panda: Castro has always been the problem. At an early age, he had promise as a baseball player and becoming a lawyer, but instead was involved in at least one murder, and perhaps even gang related murders as well. He’s always been a bloodthirsty thug.- He was hardly a pragmatic Communist like Ho Chi Minh who admired the United States or other more progressive and pragmatic Communists like the Chinese, Vietnamese or those from Laos. – My hope is after the death of the Castro brothers, that a Cuban Mikhail Gorbachev emerges who seeks to reform his country and welcome a new chapter with the U.S. – Castro promised free elections in Cuba in six months after he seized power. The world is still waiting…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  8. humanoid.panda says:

    @Paul Hooson: Yes, if there is one word that can be easily associated with Mao’s Chinese Communists is “progressive.” The truth of the matter is, and anyone who is not pursuing votes in Southern Florida knows it is that Cuba had been willing to whore itself out to the Yankee demon capitalists since 1991. Problem is that the Yankee capitalists won’t take a “yes” for an answer..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  9. Slugger says:

    @Paul Hooson: The figures I found from the CIA estimates are a GDP per capita of $10,200/year or 850/month for Cuba and $1800/year or $150/month for NoKorea. These are quite low but differ from yours. Of course, Cuba can not participate in trade with the US as VietNam and the PRC do. This is due to our laws. I would guess that if we change our laws this would change.
    The question is whether the current state of enmity is beneficial to us.
    We quit being enemies with VietNam and China without harm as best as I can tell.
    We have other enemies that I can’t quite figure out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Andrea Ostrov Letania says:

    End the sanctions on Iran and North Korea too.

    And esp end it with Russia. The Jewish War on Russia is crazy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  11. Paul Hooson says:

    @humanoid.panda: @humanoid.panda: Mao was a backward revolutionary, but under the later leadership of Deng Xiaoping, who is now revered in China as the father of China’s economic reforms, the country fostered a great deal of foreign investment and trade. Deng helped to appoint other pragmatic leaders to positions in power to ensure more economic reforms after his passing as well. Mao’s widow and three other backward revolutionaries were part of the “Gang Of Four”. These were unreconstructed revolutionaries who opposed the modernization of China and open trade with the world. Deng was a moderate and pragmatic that brought other pragmatics along with him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Paul Hooson says:

    @Slugger: There’s still a great wealth divide in Cuba. Most people earn that $20 a month. Ask most Cuban refugees. That’s what they earn. The wealthy in Cuba face excessive taxes on import luxury items. For example, a Volvo that may sell for $30,000 in the U.S is taxed $50,000 in Cuba, and cost $80,000. – Per capita figures are greatly skewed because of the extreme wealth of some, and the huge poverty of others. – In North Korea, that .50 to $1.50 figure is the most accurate for most persons, except for the extreme wealth of the Kim family and a few other elites. – In places like China and Vietnam, wealth is more spread over a larger and expanding and growing middle class.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. michael reynolds says:

    The embargo is absolutely absurd, so of course Republicans like it.

    The Castros are bad men who have very likely been kept in power by the very embargo meant to bring them down. Our entire history with Cuba has been a disaster, starting with the war we fought to liberate them from Spain – a liberation that we promptly abandoned upon discovering that many Cubans are black.

    We betrayed Cuba, we backed a corrupt kleptocracy that made Castro inevitable, we invaded them (badly) and have embargoed them for decades – a testament to our own morally and intellectually bankrupt foreign policy as regards Cuba.

    And no, my cynical friends, it’s not that I want Cubans, I actually prefer the Honduran and Nicaraguan smokes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  14. CB says:

    Mmmm I love the smell of napalm anti-semitism in the morning

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    @michael reynolds: Well said!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. wr says:

    @Paul Hooson: ” Per capita figures are greatly skewed because of the extreme wealth of some, and the huge poverty of others”

    Then we simply must not normalize relations with Cuba. Because if there’s one thing that America finds morally abhorrent it’s the idea of a country where some people have to live on the fifteen thousand a year a full-time minimum wage job brings while others rake in several billion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds: We set out to unseat Castro. He turned over power to his brother after becoming the longest serving head of government in the world. Spectacularly failed policy.

    Irrelevant, but in addition to the Cubans being black, most of the troops who made the San Juan Hill charge with Teddy Roosevelt were black.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Paul Hooson says:

    @michael reynolds: Neither Cuba or North Korea can handle trade even if they allowed more economic freedoms. In North Korea for example, the Moonie Church invested in the Pyeongwha automobile production plant. It had production capability to produce 10,000 cars a year. Instead, poverty and government over-regulation of the economy stalled production down to a mere 300 units a year, most of which were exported to Vietnam, with almost no cars staying in North Korea. – In Cuba, layers of antibusiness regulations, extremely regressive taxes, limit trade. As I stated above, a $30,000 European car us taxed $50,000 in Cuba and cost $80,000 there. – Both countries need to substantially alter their tax systems and other meaningful reforms to even encourage any real level of trade or business development. – Simply lifting the embargo won’t allow Cubans to be able to afford American products, and with very little consumer goods in Cuba to begin with, few items are produced in this land of shortages to even export to the U.S. – A little tobacco trade and a few 1950’s used cars are about all that Cuba has to export right now. That’s a far cry from what China or Vietnam can offer the U.S.- Cuba and North Korea’s economic woes run far deeper than lifting trade embargoes or U.S. sanctions. Neither of these countries are in any position to handle more trade in either direction, import or export. People in both countries are too poor to buy American goods, and the products are taxed too much to be affordable as well. And little manufacturing is available in either country. Both countries need significant government restructuring to be able to handle trade. But, the hardline nature of both governments resist any changes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Davebo says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    What does any of that have to do with lifting trade restrictions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  20. Paul Hooson says:

    @wr: See my economic analysis of Cuba and North Korea below. Neither are capable of handling trade in either direction without substantial restructuring of the economies as well as tax structures. Just lifting trade sanctions won’t achieve very much without removing tax barriers and substantial other improvements in the standard of living and numerous other difficult structures that prevent meaningful trade.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. michael reynolds says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    Cuba has beaches and sunshine, that’s their “export.” And they could handle it just fine, are in fact handling it with European and Canadian tourists.

    As for taxes, those aren’t exactly chiseled in stone. And the example of the wildly expensive car is, I’m afraid, not much different than it is in a lot of countries. A lot of countries pile on CO2 taxes, etc., that raise the price far beyond the US price.

    As for doing business there, you can’t do business at all in China without a local partner (some branch of the military or bureaucracy.) There’s no special case to be made for Cuba. It’s no different that Vietnam or China or Saudi Arabia, or any of the other thugocracies we do business with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    most of the troops who made the San Juan Hill charge with Teddy Roosevelt were black.

    Gosh, I wonder why they don’t show up in the contemporary photos or the Hearst news accounts?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  23. Paul Hooson says:

    @Davebo: Lifting trade restrictions won’t result in any meaningful trade in either direction without these structural economic changes. There needs to be structural changes within the Cuban government and economy to create an environment that can even handle trade. Cuba has some level of trade with many nations of the world. But, few in Cuba can afford even goods from Europe, like France or Sweden when they are taxed nearly 200% of the products value. – For example, if the Cuban average wages are only around $20 a month, and people are rationed some essentials from the government, no money is left to purchase a U.S. made chocolate bar that would sell for $3, two dollars of which are taxes to the impoverished Cuban government. Removing the sanctions would only be a largely symbolic and empty gesture.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    In North Korea, that .50 to $1.50 figure is the most accurate for most persons, except for the extreme wealth of the Kim family and a few other elites.

    How terrible it must be to live in a country where a few wealthy elites control most of the wealth….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  25. Rafer Janders says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    Per capita figures are greatly skewed because of the extreme wealth of some, and the huge poverty of others.

    If only Cuba would abandon socialism and embrace capitalism they’d sure fix that problem, and fast….!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. Paul Hooson says:

    @michael reynolds: Cuba largely doesn’t even have bandages or medicine in their hospitals. The families of the patients bring in these goods to take care of their family, if they can afford it. Cuban hospitals largely only have beds and staff, and nothing more. This is a very poor and economically mismanaged country here. – Too many poverty and government obstacles stand in the way of a Hilton building a hotel on Cuban beaches. This isn’t Hawaii or a Brazil beach resort we’re talking about here. This is a very poor neoStalinist state. – Castro was also a big fan of Hitler’s National Socialist Movement. But, unlike Hitler, Castro made few attempts to supply some consumer goods to satisfy his people. Hitler had his engineers create a cheap $200 knockoff of the Czech 1933 Tatra T97 for example, called the VW. Hitler, a least made some attempts to produce some consumer goods to satisfy the population. – Castro made himself a near absolute dictator, but really understands little about economics or delegating responsibility to economists. All Castro knows is revolution and violence and murder. He’s a very one dimensional thug that makes Hitler look like a real statesman by comparison.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  27. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just pay them like In N Out employees? Everything would be great then. That’s what I’m sayin’ man.

    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  28. Paul Hooson says:

    @Rafer Janders: That’s every nation in the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. wr says:

    @Paul Hooson: ” He’s a very one dimensional thug that makes Hitler look like a real statesman by comparison.”

    Well, now you’re just getting silly. I was going to address your previous point that we shouldn’t lift the embargo because they’re not ready to trade — which is obviously no reason to continue a pointless, punitive embargo. If they can’t trade, the won’t trade, but there’s no reason to pile on legal restrictions. But once you’re declaring that Castro is worse than Hitler, it’s pretty clear you’ve got some bizarre personal or political fixation that has removed you from any sense of proportion… or reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  30. Paul Hooson says:

    @Rafer Janders: Socialism can work if you have some people who understand economics, which Castro does not. – For example, East Germany didn’t want to have much trade with other nations so they designed an automobile, the Trabant which had a body built from a plastic material, duraplast, to cut down on metal imports to the county. The car used a simple two stroke engine design that eliminated many parts such as a fuel pump. – Eastern Europe managed their socialist economies to put some consumer goods on the shelves, yet limited trade with other nations. – Castro isn’t any economist nor had the available raw materials to put many consumer goods other than flour, sugar or cooking oil in the hands of his citizens. That is way below what other socialist countries were able to manage to do, especially in Eastern Europe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  31. Paul Hooson says:

    @wr: Hitler delegated responsibility to many persons, including those that produced some consumer goods for the German people. Factories produced much more than war materials in Germany, providing a fairly good life for many Germans. – Castro isn’t up to that level at all. He has neither the economic understanding or the available factories or economy to produce much consumer goods other than the monthly ration of cooking oil, sugar and flour.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  32. wr says:

    @Paul Hooson: Sure. Hitler also had one of the world’s biggest armies, set out to conquer the world, took over most of Europe and committed genocide.

    But you’re right, Castro is worse because he can’t make consumer goods.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  33. Davebo says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    3.2 Billion in exports in 2009. Oddly enough, the US is Cuba’s #1 food supplier and obviously the embargo has made their trade deficit with us immense.

    Lot’s of imports and exports with the EU and Canada.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Cuba has beaches and sunshine, that’s their “export.”

    And cigars.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Of course it’s absurd, and needed to be abolished long before now, but as long as all those Criollo exiles living down in Miami still think they should get their estates back, it’ll never happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  36. humanoid.panda says:

    @Paul Hooson: Eastern Europeans had easy access to Soviet raw materials, to Soviet markets to their consumer goods, and, starting in the late 1960s, to lavish Western credits. The idea that Eastern Europe was somehow autarchic or isolated from world trade is simply wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  37. Grewgills says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    In Cuba, the average income is around $20 a month. In China, factory wages are now often $2 a hour.

    and that is precisely because of our different strategies re: China and Cuba. If Nixon had opened Cuba when he opened China the people there would be much better off and I wouldn’t have to leave the country to get my cigars.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. pylon says:

    @Scott: Scott, you realize that Cuba is already open for business with capitalist countries – the US is the exception.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Tyrell says:

    I have thought for some time that the embargo should have been lifted. A free exchange of goods, services, and information is what is needed for the embattled, enslaved citizens of Cuba. There will be a lot of investors who will look forward to this. The US state department must demand basic rights for the people of Cuba, including access to the internet. Raul Castro could very well be a closet capitalist – free market guy. That would be great if he came out while Fidel is still around and repudiated communism as the miserable failure it is.
    Hopefully our entertainment and sports organizations will get involved. The MLB would do well, even maybe the NHL could have some games. And the ambassadors of American goodwill, the WWE, would go over well.
    Visiting Cuba is something that President Nixon would approve of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. Dave D says:

    @Paul Hooson: Because foreign investment into Cuba from the US would never happen since they aren’t ready for trade. You make it seem like a company that can make a profit there won’t try to invest because the government is lousy. The Cubans already buy our food, and the likely investment into a nation 93 miles would likely be high. Cuba actually has some sort of infrastructure and manufacturing capacity which sets it apart from the other Caribbean Islands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  41. Paul Hooson says:

    On September 24, 2014, Canadian news reports were that a Canadian businessman, Cy Tomakjian was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison on phony corruption charges. Canadian news condemned this as a fraud on the part of the Cuban government to seize $100 million of this company’s assets. – This has been the history of this Castro regime since 1959, to make phony charges against domestic and foreign businesses and for the Cuban government to then steal the assets and jail the business officials. – Some well-meaning types here assume Cuba wants trade with foreigners, yet this ruthless government only continues to set up business deals with foreigners from Canada, Europe and South America, but then later jails these people on phony charges and then seizes the company assets. – This is why no half intelligent business person should want to do business with Cuba. This same old story has happened thousands of times before….Cuba is not the same as doing business in China, Vietnam or Laos. A friend of mine owns a dinnerware factory in China, In China, they don’t jail foreigners on phony charges and the government seize foreign assets. China is safe for foreigners, while Cuba is not…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Paul Hooson is the only one other than the coruageous GOP leadership and a handful of Cuban expats in Miami who really gets it. Not even Tyrell gets it–although I am sure that if he would check at ThomasSowells or WalterWilliams.com, he would find an article that would explain it to him.

    The embargo is for the purpose of causing economic suffering to the poorest and most helpless members of a population. The purpose of this hardship is to steel their resolve so that they can throw off their chains and earn the right to enter the civilized world of Western cut-throat capitalism and prosper off of the labor of others–like all the other good people who are the producers of the world do. Look around and see the effects of a well designed embargo–it displaced the government of South Africa, it created democracy–and capitalism– in the Warsaw Pact, it’s working in North Korea and Iran–it NK it is credited with the premature death of Kim Jong il and the sickness affecting his son, Jong un. If it isn’t working in Cuba it is clearly because the poor aren’t poor enough and miserable enough yet to throw off their chains. That problem is clearly not the fault of the embargo–it’s the fault of the worthless Cuban poor who would rather stay parasites than throw off their oppressors and join the real world!

    Get with it everyone. The world needs US–and the US–to keep the misery and dispair flowing until we have accomplished our program of democratizing–and free marketing–the world. ]

    And Michael is right–Honduran and Nicaraguan cigars are just as good. I’ve also had some good cigars from Mexico.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  43. Paul Hooson says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: No. Most nations in the world have no barriers to Cuban trade, including Canada. But, the new case of the Canadian businessman arrested on phony charges and having $100 million in business assets seized is a good warning to anyone doing business with this regime. Foreign investors attempt to bring trade and jobs to Cuba to better the lives of people earning only $20 a month, with empty hospitals and most automobiles relics of the 1950’s because of government barriers to owning newer cars such as 200% taxes and other barriers. People risk their lives in makeshift boats to leave Cuba.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  44. Tyrell says:

    @Paul Hooson: That is exactly the point of opening things up concerning Cuba. There would have to be some requirements if Cuba wants US investments, technology, and tourists. Among these would be to free political prisoners, guarantee basic freedoms (speech, religion, press, assembly), make sure the internet is available, as well as cable tv, and satellite so the people have access to real news instead of propaganda. I believe that Raul is a secret capitalist, free market guy. But that is not enough. He will have to institute reforms thst include a real democracy and basic human rights. Secretary Kerry needs to get down there and make him a deal he can’t refuse. He also needs to be reminded that Cuba would be just another 3 day training exercise for our military.
    “Hasta la vista, baby !”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. george says:

    But once you’re declaring that Castro is worse than Hitler, it’s pretty clear you’ve got some bizarre personal or political fixation that has removed you from any sense of proportion… or reality.

    That was my thought. It’s as silly as when people were comparing Bush or Obama to Hitler – at that point political rhetoric has led them into ga-ga land, and its hard to take anything else they say seriously.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Pinky says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: I can’t tell how much of your comment is serious, but the embargo against South Africa is largely considered to be a success.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  47. bill says:

    well, we could always just force them out of office, it’s not like they could actually do anything but whine to the un.
    just install some other strongman (latins don’t take too well to democracy) and turn it into a nice vacation spot/cigar plantation!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  48. Paul Hooson says:

    @george: I only compared the economic performance of Hitler and Castro. That was all. Nothing more. – And I clearly pointed out that Hitler was able to delegate responsibility to people and manage, while Castro has not. Hitler made sure that Germans had consumer goods to make them happy, and Castro has not. Hitler made sure that plenty of new factories and business opportunities were built up, Castro has not. – During the 1950’s before the revolution, Cuba was more wealthy than Japan, and equal to Italy in wealth. Castro has completely failed even as a Communist. His ruthless nature suppresses dissent and anger for running his country into the ground, completely failing as a leader. It was Castro himself which decided on such a strong antiAmerican line. A pragmatic socialist would have sought to have continued good relations and trade with the U.S. – Castro actually had a pretty fair amount of support among American liberals prior to his revolution, but betrayed that support with his ruthless nature of his government almost immediately after seizing power. There might be more schools than before the revolution, but they also heavily focus on brainwashing children in antiAmericanism much like North Korean education does. – BTW, it is Castro himself who greatly admired Hitler, with “Mein Kampf: being one of his favorite books next to the writings of Marx. Castro wanted to strangely create a leftist version of the great society that Hitler had once envisioned, but has fallen way short, so he uses brutal means to retain control unlike so much progress in other Communist lands like Vietnam, China ans Laos. – Vietnam is so pragmatic that not only do they have excellent trade relations with the U.S., but they also have some military cooperation with the U.S. allowing American Navy ships to dock because it helps ensure their security against any Chinese aggression.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  49. Paul Hooson says:

    Fact; 65.9% of the Cuban economy or GDP is oppressive taxes on it’s citizens, and the second worst in the world. – The United States only rates at number #182 with only 17.0% of our GDP comprised of taxes to government. Even poor North Korea limits it’s taxes to only 11.4% of GNP, or one of the lowest tax rates in the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. george says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    I only compared the economic performance of Hitler and Castro. That was all. Nothing more.

    I find it hard to believe you didn’t want the implications of what Hitler is mainly known for (starting WW2 and the holocaust) to come along for the ride. Otherwise, why bother bringing up Hitler? If you just want to compare economic regimes, there are thousands of better examples.

    Using Hitler as a base for economic results makes as much sense as using Babe Ruth as a base for results of poker playing – unless, of course, you want the connotations of what they are best known to rub off as well.

    Its the reason for Godwin’s Law. Saying someone is like Hitler based on one of their tertiary doings is almost always a transparent attempt to pin Hitler’s moral failings (which are based on what he’s best known for) onto the person who’s being compared to Hitler for whatever secondary or worse reason (both liked dogs, were vegetarians, economic results etc).

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  51. Paul Hooson says:

    @george: I’m Jewish, so I can tell you a great deal about the holocaust. However, it was Castro himself who made it well known that he greatly admired Hitler, which is also strange because he has Jewish ancestors. – Castro envisioned a great society in Cuba with himself as absolute dictator for life. But, he was hardly the economist to create such a state like this. Despite trade with many nations in the world, other than medical vaccines, most Cuban exports are pretty low grade. Cuba even has to trade labor, and not cash, for oil from Venezuela. Venezuela’s economy is also in free fall, BTW. Another socialist failure in South America. – Further, for any claimed “agrarian reformer”, Castro’s farm policies haven’t even resulted in the production of enough food to feed his own people if not for U.S. imports of food. – For years, Castro has falsely blamed the U.S. embargo for his economic mismanagement problems, but with trade with many countries in the world including Canada, Cuba just doesn’t much to offer in trade. The Cuban GDP is heavily based on oppressive taxes rather than any business output in the nation.

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  52. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pinky: Yes, the embargo did contribute to the changes in SA–that change happening, IIRC, despite the US doing everything it could to break the embargo up to and including welcoming a brisk investment market in Kreugerands

    Hmmmm………………………..

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  53. Paul Hooson says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: South Africa also didn’t steal $7 billion in American assets like Cuba did. That’s in 1959 dollars, so that amount owed would be way beyond the wealth of this impoverished economy to repay. Some American companies were completely ruined by this theft. – For a start, maybe Cuba would like to repay their victims before we talk about lifting any embargo…

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  54. bill says:

    @Paul Hooson: the bacardi’s seemed to rebound! i can’t see cuba throwing anything but land at anyone who claims they were hurt by them- what else do they have?

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