[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Embargo or Not?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Embargo or Not?

The biggest conundrum of Cuban exiles and Cuban-Americans is the U.S. embargo and travel restrictions on Cuba. I was reminded of this today when making my blog rounds and reading what Val and Juan Paxety had to say.

Val supports strengthening the embargo and limiting any form of travel because a ruthless dictator does not deserve any type of financial support. Juan suggests that perhaps it is time to lift the embargo because it has been ineffective. Both arguments have merit and are worthy of consideration. That may sound wishy-washy on my part, and I'll admit as much. However, smarter people than me have been playing this game for a long time and haven't been able to solve the puzzle which is Cuba.

I feel that U.S. policy towards Cuba is and has always been extremely ineffective. If the purpose of the "embargo" as it stands is to get rid of fidel and his regime, then it has obviously failed. Miserably. fidel is as rich as ever, and the Cuban people as poor and oppressed as ever. I understand and generally support the reasons for the travel restrictions, but unfortunately it punishes those who want to visit Cuba for legitimate reasons (family, humanitarian efforts, etc.)

The pragmatist in me says: "Lift the embargo and stop giving fidel an excuse for Cuba's misery."

The moralist in me says: "We need to strengthen the embargo to punish fidel for the suffering he's caused", followed by "We need to help the Cuban people who are suffering".

The reason I put "embargo" in quotes and italics earlier is because it's anything but. Juan quotes the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association as stating that $1.2 billion in sales by American firms have been made to Cuba. That's a lot of money folks. It's obvious where that money is going, or not going, in Cuba.

Therefore I, like Juan, see only two possible solutions, with one being better than the other:
- Either make the embargo tight as hell and choke fidel completely, or
- Lift the embargo so the Cuban people can have access to more goods.

So then, what the best solution here?

- If you're an optimist, lift the embargo and hope the money and goods gets to the people.
- If you're a realist, tighten the embargo further because fidel already gets plenty of goods and can't be trusted with putting it in the right hands.

I'll add one more for the idealist - implement a universal embargo on Cuba so nothing, nothing, gets to fidel's hands.

I'm typically an optimistic person, but in this case I have to side with the realists. But it doesn't make me feel any more confident that it's the only solution.


Anonymous Val Prieto said...

I agree, the embargo has been anything but. Had we had a president with intestinal fortitude back in the early ninties, when the Soviet bloc collapsed and all soviet subsidies to Cuba disappeared, and had our president at the time been concerned with eliminating the scourge which is castro instead of what was politically expedient and tightened restrictions (actually they didnt even have to be tightened, they just needed to be policed) castro might very well be history.

5:28 AM, April 28, 2005  

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