Normalizing Cuban relations has proven disastrous
The June 16 editorial in The Sun, “Cuban travel limits hit wrong target,” raises several straw man arguments.
The claim that trade and tourism with the Castro regime will provide “an economic lifeline for the Cuban people” is untrue. During President Barack Obama’s détente with Cuba, the Cuban military’s role in the tourist economy expanded and further centralized economic control.
Out of a population of 11 million Cubans, 500,000 “work for themselves.” Cuban law restricts Cubans living on the island from starting their own companies, reports the Miami Herald: “Private sector workers in Cuba, known as cuentapropistas, are licensed only to work for themselves and cannot legally establish companies to expand their work beyond a small scale. Larger enterprises are allowed only for the government and foreigners.” For the self-employed to obtain the license, they must be politically loyal to Castro.
Claims that restrictions on trade and travel have remained constant over the decades, and were designed to overthrow Fidel Castro, are false. Economic sanctions, according to State Department documents from the early 1960s, were designed to contain Castro’s adventurism and raise the costs for the Russians to back Castro.
President Jimmy Carter in a 1996 interview, published in “Conversations with Carter,” said: “When I had only been in office two months in 1977, I opened up all travel for American citizens to go to Cuba and vice versa. And we opened up an entry section, which is just one step short of a full embassy in both Havana and Washington. And those offices, by the way, are still open.”
The discovery of a Soviet brigade of ground forces operating on Cuban territory and ineptness in handling the 1980 Mariel crisis spelled both the end of the policy and Carter’s defeat in 1980. Normalization of relations during Carter’s watch proved disastrous.
Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, backed by Castro, took power in 1979. A civil war erupted in El Salvador that same year with efforts of Cuban-backed guerillas to overthrow the existing government. Central America became a bloodbath.
President Ronald Reagan in 1981 reintroduced the travel ban, economic sanctions and turned the tide in the hemisphere. During this period, Latin America experienced its longest and deepest wave of democratization in its history.
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