Today’s quote of the day reminded me to post another quote that caught my attention recently. It’s from Yoani Sanchez who has been interviewed constantly since she was permitted to leave Cuba a few weeks ago. The quote an answer to a question from Ian Vasquez of the Cato Institute. The translation is mine.
Ian Vasquez: Your vision for Cuba, I suppose, is a vision of a democratic country with a more or less free market and we see that a good part Latin America has reached that point. Despite that, we’ve seen that many of the democratic countries, at least their leaders, have a certain attitude toward the Cuban government and the anti-democratic practices in Cuba. What is your opinion of that apparent hypocrisy?
Yoani Sanchez: Yes, regrettably much of the foreign policy of many countries, not just Latin American ones, also European countries opts to prioritize their economic interests at the moment of negotiation or exchange with the Cuban government. There are governments in the world that prioritize the ability of entrepreneurs from their countries to have businesses and firms in Cuba and so they abstain from criticizing the Cuban government so as to preserve those possibilities, those advantages in the market. There are also other countries that simply are silent so as to not bother the Cuban government, which tends to have a very belligerent and vociferous diplomacy in the international bodies. But the truth is that from within the island, for the population, that type of attitude leaves us with the overwhelming feeling of being abandoned. It’s as if those who should be watching over us, those who should raise their voices, especially the governments of Latin America which is overarching fatherland prefer to remain silent instead of pointing out injustice. Those, regrettably, are positions that stay in the collective consciousness of the citizenry.
I believe she’s 100% correct on this. The problem is that the sentiment she expresses here seems incompatible with her position against US economic sanctions on Cuba. In the United States you have the one country which has neither deep business interests in Cuba nor fear of calling out human rights abuses on the island. Removing sanctions on Cuba and “normalizing” relations with that country would only add to that feeling of abandonment she and the Cuban people have because the one great champion of human rights and democracy in this world decided it was better to get along with the oppressive regime.
And this is the crux of one my main arguments in favor of the embargo. Even if it’s ineffectual in terms of separating the regime from power it’s the morally correct thing to do. If you’re the United States of America you must point out oppression wherever it exists and avoid taking actions which create a conflict of interest. Our support for Saudi Arabia and its royal family is based 100% on economic interests (interest that would be lessened if we didn’t depend so much on foreign oil). Two wrongs don’t make a right.
And while we’re on the subject of what’s right, Senator Marco Rubio recently said (and I’m paraphrasing) that Cuba is not a zoo where you go to visit the caged animals, it’s not a field trip. To take the animal analogy one step further when have you ever seen animal activists go to the circus or zoo? It’s anathema to them to fund what they see as wrong. Make no mistake about it, every dollar sent to Cuba, every tourist that goes to Cuba helps keep the ringleaders of Cuban circus in power.