Just when you thought you’ve seen enough “it’s time to end the embargo” columns and editorials in the wake of President Bush’s speech several days ago, here’s another one, this one from Louisiana State University’s The Daily Reveille.
This one’s a little different, though. At least it recognizes that the embargo is not to blame for Cuba’s present state:
So can the U.S. embargo be mostly responsible for all of Cuba’s economic woes? The U.S. is not the only rich Western country in the world, and every other nation which falls into that category trades with Cuba. If the U.S. embargo was actually hurting the Cuban economy, then free trade with Canada, the European Union and many other nations all over the world should be enough to overcome such a challenge, but Cuba has not.
What does Cuba need which other countries cannot provide? Canada has medical supplies, Japan has technology and China has potential foreign investors. Trade with the other nations has not brought prosperity to Cuba because the fault lies with Castro, not the U.S. embargo.
The Castro regime is responsible for the economic suffering in Cuba. Blaming the U.S. embargo for all of the Cuban people’s problems has been Castro’s method of deflecting attention away from his failed social and economic policies. Every major industry has been “nationalized,” which means they are owned by the government. Every employee of any of these industries is an employee of the government and thus earns Castro’s designated wage.
I agree. But then why this?
Proponents of continuing the U.S. embargo on Cuba argue similar sanctions on other nations have worked in the past. They point to the embargo of South Africa in ending apartheid, but that embargo had wide-spread international support. The U.S. embargo of Cuba has only three other nations who agree with us – Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands. Cuba is the only communist country that the United States still enforces such sanctions upon. Trade with China began under the Nixon administration, and open relations with that communist regime led to many of our cultural ideas seeping into their culture.
If the U.S. had kept the same type of embargo on China as we do on Cuba, there would never have been the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989 or the growing seedlings of capitalism in the Chinese market we see today in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. I have been to China and walked along the street watching capitalism take hold among the open markets. I have no doubt the same will be true in Cuba.
It seems that the editors of The Daily Reveille can’t make up their mind as to whether the embargo is to blame. They were right the first time. Opening up trade won’t encourage capitalism, the money will go straight into the regime’s pockets. As has been noted many times in this blog, the U.S. doesn’t have a “one size fits all” foreign policy, so comparisons to China, although tempting to draw, have their drawbacks. Even if you want to apply a direct comparison, we can’t exactly say that opening up to China has led to democratic, right?