US to Normalize with Cuba -- Limiting Free Interchange with Authoritarian Regimes Only Benefits Their Leaders

I certainly am no Castro apologist, but it strikes me that 50+ years of embargoes and pointless travel restrictions have not brought his regime to heal.  So it is past time to recognize this and perhaps try something else.  So kudos to President Obama for doing something that apparently only a lame duck President who no longer has to worry about winning the Florida electoral votes can do, he is going to normalize relations with Cuba.

This should be good news for anyone who opposes the Cuban regime and its oppression. Time and again over the last 50 years, we have seen cultural and economic interchange fell more authoritarian governments than any amount of military action.  When we cut off free exchange with authoritarian regimes, we are doing their leaders a favor.

  • DanSmith

    Obama did the right thing, but probably for the wrong reasons, as a sop to his leftie base rather than an attempt to take down the Castro regime. Hopefully enough capitalistic vapors will be released and the regime will topple. Unfortunately it's likely to take a civil war to do so.

  • Nehemiah

    Time will tell, but I am not encouraged.

  • http://siliconvalleyredneck.typepad.com/ Eric Wilner

    That embargo has been going on so long, through so many changes of the elected branches, that I'd developed a suspicion that there was a secret reason for it. Like, maybe Castro demanded the embargo as a condition of honoring the lease on Guantanamo.
    After all, Communists need a scapegoat, and Bad Old Uncle Sam makes a dandy one.
    As I understand it, though, the embargo is to remain in place, so we're still the scapegoat. No capitalist-imperialist constructive engagement yet!

  • http://devilish-details.blogspot.com/ mesaeconoguy

    Great, now Michael Moore can get that fat surgery from the vaunted Cuban health system he’s always wanted/needed….

    Seriously, normally I would say “fantastic” and point to things like Apartheid, which was best fought with investment, not divestment,
    but in this case, I’m slightly worried that instead of the US exporting economic and social freedom, the flow will go the other direction and we will import collectivism, oppression, and poverty.

    More than we already have under this failed president.

  • mesocyclone

    I have long suspected that the embargo was kept so long because of Cuba's complicity in the murder of JFK. How complicit? Who knows - it ranges from having allowed Oswald to live there before going to TX to pointing him towards Kennedy. I'm usually not big on conspiracy theories, but in this case we have a lot of elements that just might tie together.

  • MikeinAppalachia

    Wonderful. The Castro brothers find a replacement piggy bank as Russia and Venezuela's oil revenue vanishes. The Castro's join Iran and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as Obama's most favored.

  • skhpcola

    Cuba has gotten most of its food from the US for decades. If we had truly enforced a strict embargo, the Castros would have been deposed many years ago. It is disingenuous to repeat that we don't trade with Cuba...we've been propping them up for a long time.

    Further, Cuba sends their doctor/slaves to other countries to get hard currency. That source is the number one source of revenue for the Castros. Anybody--especially intelligent people such as Warren--who thinks that normalizing trade will change any of the bad things about Cuba is either ignorant of history or complicit in the pitiable plight of the average Cuban. Applauding Obama for this is sharing the evil, but I've come to expect no less from leftists.

  • skhpcola

    Yeah, it's disappointing that Warren squees about making the elites in Cuba even more wealthy and powerful. Obama is cementing his craven idol's place on Warren's altar to leftist ideology.

  • sjutte350

    The Cuban leaders were turning the embargo into a full-on blockade in their media, disemminated to their people.

    So when they were totally incompetent, and things went completely pear-shaped, they could just blame the US "Blockade". That didn't exist.

    We end the embargo, we take away their excuse, so now their incompetence will be on full display - no excuses.

    I go into it a little more in depth here. http://notboutthing.blogspot.com/2014/12/normalizing-relations-with-cuba.html

    But as I said, we were HELPING them by embargoing. Remove the embargo, and remove their handy-dandy "one size fits all" excuse for why the tomatoes are rotting on the vine instead of being picked.

  • herdgadfly

    It matters not what policy or project the Obama regime instigates, the result is always bad for the American taxpayer. It is easy to figure why "normal" relationships are being re-established. The money trail starts with the boat people who have been residing in South Florida for 50 years awaiting the reuniting of entire Cuban families.separated after JFK botched his first war effort by actively supporting the guerrilla invasion of the island.

    This need will be the subject of one of the first Obama immigration memos which will permit American Cubans to bring relatives from the island to Cuban communities in Florida - without the formal immigration and naturalization required under our laws.

  • Rick Caird

    The Cuban embargo is legislative. So, unless Obama decides to ignore more law, he can do nothing about the embargo.

  • LoneSnark

    The Cuban leadership knows they need the embargo, so these normalization events are always followed by the Cuban regime purposefully doing something horrible so the American regime clamps down again. The state controlled media in Cuba doesn't report normalization, only the clamping down, so the Cubans rally around their government.

    The only solution is to quit playing the game. Lift the embargo and ignore whatever the regime does is retaliation.

  • marque2

    It is mightly telling that our president worries more about the plight of dictators and ruthless socialist countries than he does about his own people. Great, he spent all this effort helping Cuba - what about expanding our economy?

  • Mercury

    In a single day we surrendered to two bankrupt communist dictatorships and the Pentagon announced that we're not going to attack the Taliban just because they're the Taliban. Looks like authoritarian regime leaders are winning to me.
    Obama doesn't want to make Cuba more like the US, he wants to make the US more like Cuba. The Cuban government needs more food and the US government needs more dependant voters...and ultimately a convenient, off-the-grid location for federal employees to get otherwise very expensive medical care. So yeah, it's technically a win-win.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    There is a much simpler reason. Florida is an important state for Presidential elections. Florida has a lot of Cuban ex-pats, who as a group are very politically active and want the embargo. They are the reason it exists in the first place and they are the reason it lasted so long.

  • marque2

    " Limiting Free Interchange with Authoritarian Regimes Only Benefits Their Leaders"

    So I can't wait until we lift the embargo's from North Korea, Iran and Russia. Then the world will be at peace.

  • Tanuki Man

    It's "to heel" as in getting a dog to behave. Not "to heal."

  • NL7

    You're arguing by anecdote, but the Cuban embargo is one of the worst possible anecdotes for sanctions.

  • NL7

    This is just diplomacy and signaling, not yet further substance. Cuba and the US already had de facto diplomatic relations through the Swiss embassies in Havana and DC, staffed by Americans and Cubans, respectively. So it took the two governments a year and a half to agree that they would treat their de facto embassies as actual de jure embassies.

  • NL7

    But I totally agree that openness is a better move. If for no other reason than individual Cubans have natural rights, including the right to buy and sell goods even though their government is despicably terrible. An embargo against individual Cubans, intended to make their lives miserable to the point they will overthrow the regime, is immoral. It's initiating force against innocent people - victims of the Cuban government - with the purpose of extorting action from them. Granting that the Cuban government is generally authoritarian and horrible, that doesn't make the individual residents within the government's jurisdiction morally culpable as well.

  • EricP

    The US never had an embargo against China, it hasn't done a lot to promote reform there or remove oppression. It hasn't really helped in the middle-east either.

    Not that I'm against these actions just from an economic point of view but using decreasing oppression as a selling point is silly.

  • marque2

    I am just extending what most of the posters here say is a great idea. I should have added Syria and Isis to the list. We should open trade with the Taliban as well.

  • Nehemiah

    Yeah, this worked out pretty good for the Chinese people. Forced abortion and sterilization is a small price to pay for all the luxury that capitalism has brought to the ruling class. The peons are still peons even if they can buy the occasional Big Mac or Whopper. Tiananmen Square and recent developments in Hong Kong stand in stark contrast to the belief that things have improved there. Within the next decade their military will certainly challenge the US in SE Asia and the Pacific. And with the 100+ million men imbalance in population that has resulted from their one child policy, they have what one might consider a disposable army. In fact a war is just what they need to solve that particular imbalance problem. How is your Mandarin?

  • CapitalistRoader

    Here's a list of property stolen from US citizens in Cuba:

    http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/fcsc/docs/ccp-listofclaims.pdf

    I think it totaled ~$1.8 billion in 1960. Castro promised to reimburse the former owners with government bonds but he never did. It will be interesting to see what happens with these claims. If we normalize relations, does that mean that they get their property back?

  • Nehemiah

    I think you know the answer to your question - NO! From Obama's perspective the previous owners were capitalist robber barons who gained their riches on the back of those poor cane cutters, tobacco rollers and resort servants.

  • CapitalistRoader

    We'll see. There's a story in the New York Times headlined U.S. Companies Clamor to Do Business in New Cuban Market. So what's to stop the Castro brothers from letting US companies pour billions into Cuba and in five or ten years just steal it again? And if that happens, why should taxpayers care? Any business that invests in Cuba or Venezuela or the like should use a very short depreciation table for assets in those countries, and forget about buying land or leasing it long term. Don't expect a taxpayer bailout or an another expensive DOJ cataloging of everything they lost.

  • NL7

    Yes, but if you want to argue that free trade with countries dominated by hostile dictators won't be effective, then you need to grapple with the fact that the embargo on Cuba hasn't been effective.

    If you want to argue pragmatically that free trade is bad and embargo is good, then Cuba is a terrible piece of evidence in favor of embargo. North Korea is probably also poor evidence, since the Kim regime enforces probably the strictest protectionism in the world and clearly acts as though greater global trade would threaten the regime.

  • Ivor O'Connor

    It's always been about the Florida elections. Castro took back control of Cuba from America and the Cuban sycophants who sold their soul to the American's in much the same way as George Washington took control of America away from the British. Now with normalized relationships however things will change. Cuba will be normalized within a generation just like America was by say 1840. Thugs will soon have free reign everywhere.