The effort by both Democrats and Republicans in congress to lift sanctions is a lifeline to Cuba’s corrupt and murderous communist dictatorship, and nothing more than corporate welfare.
Corporate welfare and the Cuban embargo
The dictatorship in Cuba is the oldest and cruelest in the Western Hemisphere. The island’s people live under bitter oppression and the regime in Havana reserves its most poisonous attacks for the United States — the nation to which hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled, often at the risk of their lives. Yet that never seems to dissuade some US politicians from seeking to reward Cuba’s despots with commerce and new wealth.
Last week, Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Roger Marshall and Jerry Moran of Kansas, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced legislation to lift the Cuba trade embargo and make it easier to subsidize Cuba’s dictatorship. Their pitch is that the measure would make it easier for US businesses and farmers to trade with Cuba, a market from which American exporters are supposedly excluded.
Cuba’s people know their misery is the fault not of the United States but of the oppressive regime that for six and a half decades has kept them in chains.
“By ending the trade embargo with Cuba once and for all, our bipartisan legislation will turn the page on the failed policy of isolation while creating a new export market and generating economic opportunities for American businesses,” Klobuchar said in a press statement. Added Moran: “It is time to amend our own laws to give US producers fair access to market to consumers in Cuba.” Nothing in their bill, the senators insist, would impede the ability of the United States to hold Cuba accountable for its human rights enormities.
The only thing wrong with that is — well, everything.
To take the last point first, we have already sat through this feature and we know how it turns out. It was less than a decade ago that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry vigorously set about normalizing relations with Cuba. The US embassy in Havana and the Cuban embassy in Washington were reopened. Obama removed Cuba from the State Department list of terror-sponsoring regimes, attended a Major League Baseball game in Havana as the guest of Cuban President Raúl Castro, lifted most restrictions on travel to Cuba by Americans, and dispatched top officials to the island on trade missions.
Result? The regime’s repression intensified. Beatings and arrests of dissidents soared. There was a crackdown on churches and religious groups. By relaxing restrictions on US trade with and travel to Cuba, as I wrote at the time, Obama’s policy made life worse for ordinary Cubans, not better. The reason was straightforward: Because the Cuban government owns or controls virtually every major business in the country, doing more business with Cuba meant putting more wealth into the coffers of the regime. A richer dictatorship became, by definition, a stronger dictatorship. “Everybody shares a little bit of disappointment about the direction that the government in Cuba chose to go,” Kerry later said. But the outcome was entirely predictable.
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