Viva Something or Other

Today marks the 44th anniver­sary of the trade embar­go on Cuba. Now, I know that they aren’t doing all that well there, and Cas­tro is, shall we say, a leader of mixed virtue, but every time I think of the trade embar­go I am impressed with the resilien­cy of the Cuban peo­ple. Every time it cross­es my mind I also think that Com­mu­nism must be more sta­ble than we like to think if it could sur­vive all this time cut off from its biggest, rich­est, and near­est poten­tial trad­ing power.

Which is not to say I think it’s real­ly evi­dence that Com­mu­nism is sta­ble, but that con­tin­u­ing the embar­go makes it appear that it is sta­ble. Our sanc­tions can’t kill it!

I also haven’t done the research to back up my impres­sion, but I sus­pect that the oppres­sion of the Cuban peo­ple is real­ly small pota­toes com­pared to our Most Favored Nation trad­ing part­ner, the Peo­ples Repub­lic of China.

Sanc­tions with­out end will not change any­thing. Why not enter into nego­ti­a­tions to renew rela­tions con­tin­gent on improve­ments in their human rights record? We’ve got bil­lions of dol­lars worth of tourists and cig­ar buy­ers which, if I were dic­ta­tor of Cuba, would be a nice incen­tive to let polit­i­cal pris­on­ers out of jail and not crack down on pro­tes­tors. After all, peo­ple don’t have (mean­ing­ful) protests when they’re well-fed.

Maybe that’s just my idle ide­al­ism talk­ing though.

2 Replies to “Viva Something or Other”

  1. As you well know, I strong­ly
    As you well know, I strong­ly advo­cate for drop­ping the embar­go. If it has­n’t brought Cas­tro to his knees in 44 years, it isn’t going to. It only hurts the peo­ple of Cuba, not Cas­tro. And it hurts the peo­ple of the US, because we are denied access to the most beau­ti­ful island and nicest beach­es in the Caribbean  — prob­a­bly the world. Oh, and cigars.…

    I think what you are see­ing is the resilien­cy of the human spir­it, not some resound­ing affir­ma­tion of the val­ue of Com­mu­nism. All of the Cubans I met were dirt-poor due most­ly to the US embar­go, but they uni­ver­sal­ly voiced the opin­ion that it was a prob­lem between the stu­pid Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment and the stu­pid Cuban gov­ern­ment, not between our peo­ples. We were well treat­ed every­where we went.

    As for oppres­sion, there may be some, but there appeared to be no reluc­tance on their part to speak to us about their lives or their feel­ings about the government/Castro. They did not seem to be con­cerned that some­one would over­hear their polit­i­cal views. Cas­tro is actu­al­ly pret­ty pop­u­lar there. He used the Russ­ian for­eign aid to build up a mod­ern med­ical sys­tem that is bet­ter than most “rich” coun­tries. Illit­er­a­cy is extreme­ly low there. The schools are excel­lent, although it is only recent­ly that they have start­ed teach­ing Eng­lish instead of Russ­ian. He has­n’t made him­self wealthy or wavered on his beliefs, unlike our pols.

    I only saw one police­man in all the time I was there, and he was going into the main police sta­tion in Havana. We saw no sol­diers, either, although every civ­il ser­vant wears fatigues. They feel it would be unseem­ly to dress bet­ter than Cas­tro, and he (except for a few required for­mal appear­ances such as the Pope’s vis­it) still wears his fatigues, which he swore to do until Cuba was back on its feet.

    I would love to go back again to that beau­ti­ful land with the won­der­ful people.


  2. PS
    I think that oppres­sion

    I think that oppres­sion in any coun­try occurs rarely enough that few peo­ple actu­al­ly wit­ness it them­selves. Sort of like auto­mo­bile fatal­i­ties in the US. In my life, there have been around 50,00 deaths per year in the US. I’m 60, and only one per­son has died in one that I actu­al­ly know per­son­al­ly or even indi­rect­ly. I do hear of a a lot of fatal­i­ties here, but I bet few dic­ta­tors put many of the names of their oppressed in the papers. Prob­a­bly that is the only way they can avoid get­ting their Bastille stormed.


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