Third Party & Independents Archives

Good Reasons to Uphold the Cuban Embargo

Rather than reviewing Obama’s attempt to normalize relations with Cuba in terms of the last 116 years of Cuban American history, those angered by the White House’s unilateral announcement have framed the issue in terms of Obama’s questionable ability as a negotiator. The comparisons with Jimmy Carter are inevitable, and for those who are waiting and watching for the final fall of the Cuban regime, weakened by a less-solvent Venezuela in the face of falling oil prices, this agreement is not just infuriating on a political and human rights basis, it’s simply weak negotiating. So who’s right? And not just Obama defiantly trying to burnish his legacy in his lame duck years. There are some, not many, like Juan Carlos Hidalgo at the Cato Institute, who state the last 50 plus years of embargo have been a failure.

The problem with answering that question is that Cuba is such a sensitive issue because it is both narrowly partisan, the exiled Cuban community in Miami and elsewhere's hatred of the Cuban regime is deep and abiding, and broadly ideological: this is still a totalitarian communist state that imprisons and controls its citizens like few nations in today's world. The Soviet Union collapsed because marxist economics does not work and combined with their defense costs, made the system unsustainable over the medium and longer term. 75 years is long for any individual, less so for any nation or grouping of nations. Even less so for any ideology. Cuba has lasted almost 2 decades less than the Soviet Union. It is a relatively small island with a fairly primitive economy and thus easy to control for a ruthless leader with a military and intelligence service firmly in his grip. And if that grip is weaker and shaking with age, it is still very much around the neck of anyone who opposes the regime.

So the question of how Cuba should get to where most nations agree it should get is not easy to answer perhaps for the international community. For those who suffered under the regime and sought freedom in America and elsewhere, the answer is, in fact, easy: Cuba must make at the very least modest reforms that are a clear step towards political freedom and democracy. They have done nothing of the sort. Would a lifting of the embargo, say in the 90's or earlier, have helped them move towards democracy? No one can claim certainty on that question. How about turning the question around. Did the embargo make life easier for the Cuban regime? Again, in some ways it might have, but it is perhaps a mistake to view Cuba through the prism of economics and process. It may be that with or without an embargo, the Castros would have ruled with an iron fist and kept the communist system firmly in place. Latin America has all too often been an infuriating blend of provocative rhetoric and intransigent partisanship, along with improvised policy and deep rooted corruption. Yes, things are better on the continent, as it's citizens have turned towards capitalism and modern democracy, but Castro is still seen as a hero to many across the continent. Those who cheer the regime from Buenos Aires to Brazil to Mexico have for the most part never had to live under such a regime. But some of those cheering have in fact lived in Cuba as part of its marxist bourgeoisie. In Latin America, the intellectual culture of scholasticism, with it's insistence on denying any space to opposing opinions, in which political compromise is seen as corrupt treachery, in the words of Nicholas Shumway, has provided fertile ground for extremes of both left and right. The Castros are one of the remaining bastions of that intransigence. It should be up to them to demonstrate a small measure of political openness towards their own citizens before negotiations proceed. If Obama meant to challenge Congress to pass or uphold the embargo, they are surely up to that challenge, and surely have good reasons for upholding the embargo until real change comes to Cuba.

Posted by AllardK at December 19, 2014 1:44 PM
Comment #386802

“Let’s hope cooler heads will ultimately prevail and we unleash a trade tsunami that washes the Castros once and for all into the sea.”

“I think a policy of isolationism toward Cuba is misplaced and hasn’t worked.”

“I support engagement, diplomacy, and trade with Cuba, China, Vietnam, and many countries with less than stellar human rights records, because I believe that once enslaved people taste freedom and see the products of capitalism they will become hungry for freedom themselves.”

“The supporters of the embargo against Cuba speak with heated passion but fall strangely silent when asked how trade with Cuba is so different than trade with Russia or China or Vietnam.”

“Communism can’t survive the captivating allure of capitalism. Let’s overwhelm the Castro regime with iPhones, iPads, American cars, and American ingenuity.”

Rand Paul, Republican Senator from KY


It’s not just trade, but exposure to American culture that will collapse the communism of the Castrobrothers. They are already largely irrelevant, but there is no need to punish the Cuban people, and every reason to expose them a way that just might be better.

To continue to follow a 1960’s style anti-communist agenda makes no sense whatsoever. It is a classic example of the bankruptcy of conservatism when it comes to foreign policy, as represented by Rubio, Romney, and McCain.

Posted by: phx8 at December 19, 2014 3:26 PM
Comment #386810

Marco Rubio is a twit. He calls out Obama on negotiating but he has no specifics. He is comparing him to Jimmy Carter as if Carter didn’t negotiate a peace treaty with Egypt and Israel. He insists Cuba become a democracy before we do business with them, is he completely clueless?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 19, 2014 8:59 PM
Comment #386812

Is Rubio clueless? Perhaps. I think he is just a weak man. He changes his views to match what he thinks the conservative base wants to hear. It is craven, and worst, transparently obvious. At some point, a person has to stand for something, even if it is not necessarily what everyone wants to hear, or politically popular at the time.

At the height of the Ebola crisis, and right before the midterms, Obama refused to institute a travel ban to western Africa countries. It was the right thing to do. It followed the advice of scientists, experts, epidemiologist. According to the polls, what Obama did was very unpopular with the panicked public, and he could have caved in order to court votes. Yet he did not cave. Obama did the right thing, and subsequent events proved he was right. It was an outstanding example of leadership, even if it cost votes right before the midterm.

Rubio, on the other hand, offered a bill to institute a travel ban. It ignored the advice of scientists, experts, and epidemiologists, and he did it in order to court votes and cater to panic. That is a classic example of what kind of guy he is.

Posted by: phx8 at December 19, 2014 10:20 PM
Comment #386813

I never could understand the logic of being the only country to embargo Cuba. The fact other countries didn’t follow suit is a subject worthy of discussion.

Senator Paul is right to believe American influence via. trade and communication will persuade the Cuban people to afford themselves a choice.

It’s logical to assume the embargo only perpetuates the communist regime there. Without any kind of influence from the people of the U.S. Castro was free to enforce his own views onto generations of Cuban people.

But, since Obama is black, I can’t support his decision and will do everything in my power to defeat him and his diabolical agenda.

This is where Foghorn Leghorn says,

Uhh.. That was a joke, son.

I had to throw that in there because I couldn’t believe I agreed with both of j2t2 and phx8 ‘s comments! Wonders will never cease.

Sorry about that, Allardk. I have to go with opening up to Cuba with trade and communications treaties.

Posted by: Weary Willie at December 19, 2014 11:25 PM
Comment #386833
I had to throw that in there because I couldn’t believe I agreed with both of j2t2 and phx8 ‘s comments! Wonders will never cease.

Oh Weary I’m so sorry man, I guess I should have thrown in some “Viva the Revolution” comments or something. But I do have to say I saw Sen.Paul’s response to Rubio and he does have a handle on it.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 20, 2014 1:51 PM
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