Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another Call To End The Embargo

President Obama will be leaving shortly for the Summit of the Americas, an important official contact with the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean. For eight years, our nation's relationship with our hemispheric neighbors have been strained because of neglect and the misbegotten war on drugs. The only time the Bush administration made any real effort in diplomacy with these neighbors was to push through "free trade" agreements, many of which sold out the working people of those nations and ours.

There is another issue, however, which has estranged the US from Latin America, one that has been around for even longer, and that is the economic embargo imposed on Cuba. By all accounts, that embargo has been a failure. The Castro regime has remained in power for fifty years now. The only ones who have suffered under the embargo, the citizenry of Cuba, have not been moved to "throw off the shackles of the communist dictatorship."

The only ones who have gained under the embargo have been the emigre enclave in Florida and their bought and paid for politicians, giving them far more political power per capita than any group in the nation. Well, those Cuban emigres and other nations who have cheerfully ignored the embargo, such as China.

It's time for a change in US policy in Cuba, and President Obama would do well to seize the moment and move for such a change, even if only incrementally. An op-ed piece written by Elizabeth Morrow, a graduate student at Tufts University, for the Boston Globe explains why it would not only be the right thing to do, it would also be the smart thing to do.

While the US government refuses to engage in trade with Cuba (though not China, a communist country that unquestionably poses a much greater threat than Cuba and its 11 million inhabitants), firms from Europe, Asia, and Latin America are signing lucrative contracts. Chinese oil companies have signed contracts to drill for oil in Cuban waters; not only are American firms prevented from bidding for these contracts, creating an economic loss, but offshore drilling is extremely risky environmentally. These waters are less than 100 miles from the Florida coast: if US companies were drilling, they would be accountable not only to their shareholders, but also to residents of the Gulf of Florida, who will be affected by any environmental fallout. The same argument can be adapted to construction companies, mining firms, and pharmaceutical outfits operating in Cuba: the self-exclusion of US companies from the Cuban market negatively affects both our economy and our security. ...

The United States cannot afford to maintain its embargo of Cuba, or its reckless immigration policy. We are in an economic crisis, but excluded from a market 90 miles off our coast, while other foreign entities sign lucrative contracts. We endanger the environmental security of the Gulf of Florida by not engaging with Cuba, with whom we share the waters, and instead leave this task to the Chinese. We create a profitable industry for smugglers, and distract the Coast Guard from dealing with the much more dangerous threats posed by drug smuggling and terrorism.

Common sense, buttressed by a rational argument with real facts: how refreshing is that? Ms. Morrow's column should be mandatory reading at the White House, the State Department, and the 111th Congress. And they all should take it seriously.

Kudos to both Elizabeth Morrow and to the Boston Globe for printing her piece. More like this please, even if it has to be via a samizdat medium.

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Anonymous larry,dfh said...

There are alot of ex-Cubans in NJ, that's why we're stuck with that s.o.s. bob menendez.

8:13 PM  

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