[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: What About the Embargo?

Monday, August 31, 2009

What About the Embargo?

The Miami Herald embarked on a five-part series on the "embargo" with part one yesterday (comprised of two article). I know what some of you are thinking.

"The Herald writing a story on Cuba must be some kind of castro love-fest" and/or exile-bashing contest".

Neither of the above would apply to the articles referenced here. It's actually a rather nuanced and surprisingly analytical and realistic view of the "embargo". Those who are dead set against the embargo because it prevents some sort of opening will likely squirm in their chairs in certain parts of the article, while those of us who favor sanctions will find good material to support our arguments but at the same time some thought-provoking stuff as well.

The best of the two articles is this one.

Lost in the argument over what the United States might do is the fact that change is a two-way street. Cuba can say thank you, but no, we don't want to do business with you.

``What the Cuban government wants is more American tourists,'' said Mauricio Claver-Carone, board member with the politically influential U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, a pro-embargo group that contributed $452,000 to Democrats and $308,500 to Republicans in 2008. ``It's an easy source of financing, and they control that commodity.''

The other article focuses on American products sold in Cuba at prices that are out of the reach of most Cubans.
While U.S. consumer goods may be readily available on the island, they are not always within reach of average Cubans.

Take the Wilson baseball cap, for example. With a price tag of 11.20 convertible pesos, that makes it about $14. Now consider that base minimum wage on the island is about $10 a month. If the same cap were adjusted for the U.S. minimum wage, it would cost $1,624. (The comparison is not entirely accurate, though, for a nation where housing, food and medical treatment are either free or subsidized.)

The best quote from either article, however, is this one from a typically surname-less Cuban:

``The embargo is not between America and Cuba,'' said Manuel, 46, a Havana cab driver. ``It's between Cubans -- those who can afford things and those who can't.''


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