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realclearworld

The lazy argument for lifting the embargo against the Castro dictatorship

It seems that every few days there is a U.S. newspaper editorial board who wants to chime in on the U.S. embargo of the Cuban dictatorship. Most of the editorials are in favor of lifting the embargo, and in a display of laziness and unoriginality, they recycle the same old stale arguments, most of which originated in the Castro regime's propaganda offices. Most of the time I ignore these editorials because they offer nothing new, and arguing with ignorance gets old quite fast. Nevertheless, once in a while you have to bring attention to these showcases of obtuseness if only to remind them of their idiocy.

The Denver Post published an editorial today entitled "Restricting Travel to Cuba Serves no Purpose." In this relatively short editorial, the editorial board of the paper managed to cram in quite a large amount of falsehoods, misrepresentations, and inaccuracies. Perhaps they were in a hurry and did not have to time to think much about what they were writing, or perhaps this is the best they can do. Personally, I believe it is the latter since falsehoods and misrepresentations are relatively easy to come by, while truths take time and effort.

Here is their editorial, and in italics I point out their falsehoods, misrepresentations, and inaccuracies:

Editorial: Restricting U.S. travel to Cuba serves no purpose

Preventing Americans from visiting Cuba neither protects U.S. citizens nor promotes democracy for the Castro-led country.

By The Denver Post

More than a half century after Fidel Castro imposed his suffocating brand of socialism in Cuba, the U.S. government is still pretending that restricting trade and travel to the island will somehow promote Cuban freedom.

As opposed to still pretending that lifting restrictions on trade and travel to the island will somehow promote Cuban freedom?

But at least the Obama administration is slowly opening the door to greater access by Americans, in tacit recognition of an utterly failed policy over 11 administrations, even if it still isn't willing to lift restrictions altogether.

Do you mean the utterly failed Cuba policy President Obama adopted from the Clinton administration in the 1990s?

We happen to think Washington should restrict travel to another country only when Americans' physical safety is at risk, not as a form of economic punishment. Such punishment is rarely effective, as the experience with Cuba shows all too well.

Of course economic sanctions are rarely effective, just look how poorly it worked in apartheid South Africa.

Travel to Cuba has been tightly controlled for decades, and all but banned for much of the period. But a thaw began during the Clinton administration, which allowed so-called people-to-people contacts that involved tours with an educational, religious or other approved focus.

Yet even that modest relaxation of travel standards was rolled back in 2004 under President George W. Bush.

Wait a second: wasn't the Clinton administration part of those 11 administrations with Cuba policies that utterly failed? Was it good or not? You can't have it both ways, even if you believe you can.

Now the Obama administration has released rules that allow travel along Clinton-era lines, although with even fewer restrictions. The Associated Press reported recently that Treasury Department guidelines say that people-to-people tours must guarantee a "full-time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interaction" with Cubans, but there will no requirement to file an itinerary ahead of time.

If there is no need to file itineraries, however — and no apparent intention to monitor activities by tour groups — then we're inching closer than ever to full-blown freedom for U.S. travelers.

In other words, the hell with the law and go ahead and lie to the U.S. government regarding your itinerary in Cuba. The important thing here is that American tourists have the ability to enjoy mojitos and all-you-can-eat surf & turf meals while the Cuban people remain enslaved, starving, and miserable. If you want to call a good time at the expense of a repressed population "people-to-people" contacts, that is fine. Just as long as the American tourists have a good time.

So why not simply drop the fig leaf and let tourists be tourists? Why should Americans only be allowed in Cuba if they keep to a "full-time schedule of educational activities"? Does anyone still seriously think that such restrictions have a positive influence in nudging the Cuban regime, now led by Fidel's brother Raul, into liberalizing its economy, protecting civil liberties and establishing the rule of law? (Come to think of it, since when isn't a simple stroll through a foreign city or village educational in its own right?)

Just imagine, all these decades we have believed the fallacy that restricting the amount of cash we put into the hands of a brutal, murderous, and dictatorial regime has any positive effects. What we should do is fill the vile dictatorship's pockets and Swiss bank accounts with hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars and then they will have a change of heart and use that money to free the Cuban people. Yeah... right.

The Cuban government reportedly believes as many as 500,000 Americans could visit the island under the new rules — second only to Canada in terms of tourists.

This statement and figure apparently is part of the Havana talking points they were following, and they were not quite sure how to incorporate it into the editorial, so they just threw it in there.

When loosening travel restrictions was proposed in January, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., responded by saying it "will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba. These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights. And they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them."

She's probably right. But keeping the restrictions in place wouldn't promote those goals, either. We've got 52 years of evidence to clinch the case.

An interesting admission: "She's [Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen] probably right," that ending restrictions will not bring respect for human rights and democracy to Cuba. And an even more interesting omission: the Denver Post editorial board makes no attempt to argue that doing the opposite would accomplish these goals.

In the end, it is not about Cuba, the repression suffered by the Cuban people for more than five decades, or about the enslavement of 11-million people on an island 90 miles from our shores. It is about Americans missing out on the fun that is to be had on Castro's slave plantation.

1 comment to The lazy argument for lifting the embargo against the Castro dictatorship

  • Rayarena

    Its fascinating how so many newspapers across the country as you point out, Alberto, chime in every few days on the U.S. embargo of the Cuban dictatorship.

    I mean, why the hell does a newspaper out in Denver give a dam about Cuba? I'm sure that the average Colorado resident knows next to nothing about Cuba, nor do they particularly care. It's not like its on their radar.

    I suspect that part of this harmful obsession with Cuba is due to the fact that there are basically two national newspapers in the USA, the New York Times and the Washington Post. These are the most influential periodicals in the entire country. The others--just list every other city paper--are basically local newspapers. Do to the power and reach of the New York Times and the Washington Post, many of the other newspapers use their stories, opinion pieces and editorials as guiding posts. In fact, often times, smaller newspapers will reprint a NYTs or Washington Post Editorial. While the WP, has I believe, changed a bit, the NYT's continues to shamelessly shill for the tyranny. Thus, their pernicious influence is still being felt. Also, Reuters and AP are so afraid of offending the tyranny that they walk-on-thin-ice whenever they write about Cuba and often do nothing more than repeat the regimes talking points. Maybe this is the reason the Denver Post would print such dribble. Just speculation.