Renewed diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and an easing of decades-old travel and commercial restrictions, will benefit both countries economically, a researcher on markets and economies at George Mason University in Virginia told Newsmax TV
While the breakthrough announced on Wednesday
leaves the U.S. embargo against Cuba intact, it is a welcome step toward allowing free trade to lift people on both sides of the old divide, Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the university's Mercatus Center, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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"I look at this from an economics point of view and … there's an overwhelming consensus about the benefits of free trade for both, in this particular case the Cuban people, but also the American people," said de Rugy.
Allowing free markets to operate in what was a closed corridor also acknowledges that the world has changed, she added.
"It is important to understand that while there may have been a reason in the past for the Cuban embargo, this embargo has actually outlived the Cold War for 25 years," she said.
Encouraging freer trade and travel between the countries "doesn't mean going easy on human rights violations," said de Rugy, in response to criticisms that the deal rewards authoritarian, communist Cuba
for behavior the U.S. opposes.
"Look, the U.S. has several embassies in China. We trade pretty freely with them. We borrow money from them, and we're also very, very clear that we do not approve any human rights violation that takes place in China," she said.
"So the idea that one is inconsistent for the other, that the moment we start trading with them we're going to say, 'It's OK: You can do as much damage and you can jail people and violate people's rights … go ahead' — this makes no sense," she said.
De Rugy also questioned the use of waiting for the struggling Cuban economy
to collapse on its own accord on the theory that holding off on a deal would have improved the U.S. bargaining position.
"We've been saying that the embargo is going to make the whole economy collapse and the regime collapse … for 54 years," she said. "It hasn't happened."
The embargo "created tremendous costs, certainly, back then for the Soviet Union," she said, by forcing Cold War-era Russia, as Cuba's chief patron and ally, to pour vast resources into the island-nation at America's doorstep to keep it afloat economically.
She said the embargo also created "a horrific economic situation … for the Cuban people."
"But the idea that waiting it out two more months, three more months, [because] we'll manage to achieve something that we haven't achieved in 54 years doesn't seem very realistic," said de Rugy.
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