[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Coming Back To An Old Friend

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Coming Back To An Old Friend

The U.S. embargo on Cuba has been the recent topic of discussion and interest not only in the MSM, but also in the blogosphere, as these recent postings by Henry "Conductor" Gomez illustrate.

Also, Val posted an open discussion of sorts on the embargo the other day which has attracted over 150 comments (BTW, anyone who thinks Val shuts out opposing viewpoints should read the comments to the post and reconsider that thought).

I admit to being a bit weary and, shall I say, tired of the subject. My normal reaction to this is, "what embargo?" However, there's no doubt that it is a key element of Cuba relations and it is worthy of occasional thought and reanalysis.

Here's an editorial by the Sacramento Bee which was published in the Sun-Sentinel today. Emphasis and comments mine.

As surely as autumn carpets the land with leaves of red and gold, the Bush administration is tightening enforcement of the U.S. embargo against Cuba as an election nears. Not that it would admit there's a connection.

So the issue has a political nature to it. Big deal. Doesn't every issue?

Indeed, a Justice Department official in Miami said this seemed "an appropriate time to make clear … that we seek to enforce this law aggressively." And to underline the point, he said prosecutions will be "much more than a slap on the wrist."

The law, dating back to 1962, makes it illegal for Americans to do business with Cuba, whether traveling there (except by narrowly defined groups) or sending money to relatives above a limit that this administration has reduced. And promising rigorous enforcement is sure to please many Cuban-Americans who have a visceral hatred of Fidel Castro.

Gotta love the choice of adjective here. Visceral? Sure. Rational? Logical? Understandable? Even more so. But I digress.

It's been obvious for decades that the embargo hurts ordinary Cubans and not their repressive rulers. Yet to placate a dwindling constituency of Cuban exiles, nine U.S. administrations have persisted with the fantasy that somehow economic pressure will bring down Castro, now 80 and ailing and likelier to expire of natural causes than to be ousted.

It is true that the regime isn't hurt by the embargo. But here's where the Bee's argument starts to lose credibility. It pulls out the tired-but-true arguments of "it's the embargo's fault" and "it's an antiquated policy to please the 20 people in Miami who still support the hard-line against castro". Okay, that last quote was a blatant rip-off of Tom Fiedler's dismissal of Radio Mambi, but the Bee is using the same general line of thought to dismiss a contrary point of view which actually make some sense to reasonable and intelligent folks.

Sorry Sacramento Bee, I don't buy it.

That the administration may not really believe its own propaganda is suggested by its relaxation of the embargo to allow the sale of U.S. farm products to Cuba, which accounted for much of the $7.7 billion two-way trade last year. And the Cuban economy, which was depressed for years after its aid lifeline from the Soviet Union dried up, is growing at 8 percent a year. Add to that a report from the U.S. Geological Survey saying there's enough oil and natural gas under Cuba's offshore waters to make it a major producer.

Make up your mind, Bee. You indict the embargo and blame Cuba's ills on it. You then follow that up by stating that the embargo has been "relaxed" to allow for trade and that Cuba's economy has grown by 8 percent. Any reasonable person who might be reading this and not know a thing about the embargo would say, "Cuba trades with the U.S. (not to mention other countries), their economy has grown 8 percent, and the Cuban economy is still in shambles?"

That cracking sound you hear is the Bee's anti-embargo argument coming apart at the seams.

With non-U.S. oil companies signing deals to develop Cuba's energy sector, how soon will President Bush's friends in the oil industry join the farmers by demanding an exemption from an embargo that makes no sense and does nothing to hasten the end of communism on the island?

Sacramento Bee

Ignoring their obviously political comment about "Bush and his friends in the oil industry", the contradictions in this brief editorial are striking. Unfortunately, this is where many anti-embargo arguments end up. It's not because being against the embargo doesn't make sense. In fact, many good arguments can be made against the embargo (not to mention the current travel restrictions). The problem is, those who argue most vehemently against the embargo and advocate free trade don't have any solid theories or concrete evidence to show how it would begin to solve Cuba's problems. They fail to see the hard evidence and logic which clearly shows that years of tourism, trade and business deals with the rest of the world hasn't done a thing to help the situation. At worst, some of these folks (including the editors at the Sacramento Bee) fail to blame the true source of the problem and the only constant in the past 47 years.

Any guess as to what that might be?


Anonymous apr_47@yahoo.com said...

I agree with you. Nothing will change even if things were as normal as they were before. I just read today how Cuba owes all this money to Spain and hasn't paid it back. Their arguments are like Swiss cheese, full of holes.

11:16 PM, October 22, 2006  

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