25 January 2015 - Why Continue an Embargo that Doesn’t Work

I must admit I am surprised at some of the negative reaction to the announcement by President Obama recently that we would resume normal diplomatic relations and end the trade embargo with Cuba. I wrote about it on Samuelson Sez a couple of weeks ago and while most of you said “That’s great, let’s do it”, there were some of you and certainly there have been members of the House and Senate saying “This is a bad idea.”

Well, I have to ask . . . Why is it a bad idea? What is wrong with people talking to each other? The embargo that was put in place over a half century ago to get rid of Castro and Communism hasn’t worked because the Castro brothers are still in power and the Cuban people are still living under Communist rule. As I have said many times, if you don’t entirely control the production of the commodity you embargo, then they will get that commodity somewhere else.

Why are some of the anti-Cuban people so upset about tourists going to Cuba, and meeting and visiting with Cuban people? In order to start removing Communism from that part of the world and restoring Democracy, we might have a better chance of seeing that happen if Cuban people get to see that people who live in a Democracy aren’t bad. It might also give them an opportunity to see that Democracy does offer a great deal more than a Communist regime.

I don’t care what we are involved in, whether it is trade with Cuba, whether it is personal relationships, whether it is Republicans or Democrats, if you keep shooting at each other without talking to each other, then how are you going to come to an understanding of people? Rather than hold resentment or anger against people we don’t have a dialogue with, we need to get to know and understand each other; respect their point of view as we wish them to respect ours.

When I visited Cuba in 1999, I found the Cuban people to be very friendly, and curious about America. I talked to consumers who missed our Texas long-grain rice and our quality pork and poultry. I talked to the manager of a collective Holstein dairy farm who told me the herd genetics came from the U.S. over 50 years ago and he would like to introduce new U.S. genetics to his herd to increase production.
To me, that is what ending this embargo is all about . . . the opportunity for Cuban and American people to meet and talk to each other. Very often, people on the street can accomplish far more in establishing normal relations than diplomats and government officials.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.