Tags: Castro-Cuba | Cuba | embargo | Castro | Congress

It's Time to Deal With Cuba

Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:26 AM Current | Bio | Archive

It took over a half-century, but someone in Washington is finally using common sense regarding Cuba. It’s about time.
Ever since the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion 53 years ago, America’s policy has been to isolate Cuba through a strict embargo, hoping to collapse its socialist government. Given that nothing has been achieved — zero — it’s safe to say that not only is our policy flawed, but the die-hard adherents who refuse to acknowledge its failures give new meaning to the term “pigheaded.”
With bold leadership (along with a little humility), America can gain a huge victory for freedom and free enterprise by befriending Cuba. Yet many refuse to even try, criticizing those attempting something new. Their “my-way-or-no-way” close-mindedness would make even the Castro brothers blush with envy.
Despite a majority of Americans favoring the re-establishment of ties, Republicans (primarily) are threatening to derail the process. Why? Either:
A. The GOP is the more patient party, believing that the current policy should be given more time; say, 150 years. Or,
B. Because of President Obama, who initiated the proposal to foster a more open relationship; in other words, pure partisanship. Given that Republicans now control Congress, it’s a good possibility that partisan politics will once again rule the day, to the detriment of both Cubans and Americans.
To be fair, enacting the embargo and restricting access to Cuba during the Cold War, when Castro cozied up to the Soviets, was reasonable. But common sense should have told us that if it didn’t produce results in several years, it would never work. Since political common sense is an oxymoron, however, the sanctions continue, which only Congress can end.
Consequently, American products are denied a large market within close proximity. We lose access to cheap Cuban goods, and relatives of Cuban-Americans continue to suffer while U.S. law makes family reunions in Cuba all but illegal.

So why aren’t we lifting the embargo?
1. Too many politicians still bow to the demands of a small but highly vocal minority of Cuban-Americans who detest “helping” a Cuba ruled by anyone named Castro. At one time, presidential candidates opposing this lobby could lose the state (much like opposing ethanol subsidies in Iowa). But the pols have failed to see that the Cuban voting bloc is no longer tied to the embargo issue. Each successive generation places less importance on the sanctions, viewing closer ties as the path to prosperity.
Being beholden to a special interest is never good, but placating one that doesn’t exist is stupidity.
2. Development in Cuba is on the upswing, fueled by European businesses snatching up prime real estate. The embargo’s objective to collapse the Cuban economy is a train that has already left the station. Time for America to get in the game.
3. We can’t wait for three minutes at the drive-thru without complaining, yet we patiently adhere to a woefully ineffective law that will soon approach six decades of failure. What do we think will miraculously change?
4. The embargo hurts the Cuban people by denying them economic opportunities. The way to winning hearts is through wallets, as a growing middle class produces stability and respect for the law. Yet that lesson continues to be lost on many of our politicians.
5. Embargo defenders love to rattle off conditions Cuba needs to meet: human rights, fair elections, and freeing political prisoners. And it would be great if the world were filled with rainbows and lollipops! Except that it’s not. Making those demands shows a naiveté at best, and hypocrisy at worst, since adhering to such prerequisites would see our trading partners shrink to Antarctica and Santa’s workshop.
Take China. It violates human rights; ignores international law; sends toxic products to America; pollutes on a global scale; and rapes the land. Oh, and it has nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S. Yet American dollars have made it an economic powerhouse, so much so that Wal-Mart ranks as China’s seventh-largest trading partner.
So China gets a free pass, but Cuba, on whom we can exert infinitely more economic leverage, must be angelic? Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said it best: “You can’t build a future on top of resentments.”
In lifting the embargo, America would showcase that freedom and capitalism are its biggest exports. China still has a long way to go, but America has transformed that nation, guiding it towards liberalism (small “l”). A vibrant middle class has been born, tasting the good life as more freedoms are earned and opportunities realized.
If we can accomplish that with China, doing the same with Cuba should be a walk in the park.
So let’s build a bridge to our neighbor and, as a great American once said, tear down that wall.
Cuba libre!
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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It took over a half-century, but someone in Washington is finally using common sense regarding Cuba. It’s about time.
Cuba, embargo, Castro, Congress
Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:26 AM
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