The Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii
Posted on: Wednesday, July 11, 2007
With Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's deteriorating health, efforts in Congress to ease the travel and trade restrictions on Cuba are gaining momentum. And with good reason.
For 45 years the embargo has proven to be wholly ineffective, despite insistence from the Bush administration that the sanctions are needed to push the Cuban government toward democracy.
Congress began to recognize the need to change course in 2000, when it passed a law allowing cash sales of some food and agriculture products to Cuba, resulting in $1.5 billion in farm-product sales for the U.S. — and underscoring the huge economic potential should free enterprise be allowed to take root in Cuba.
Lawmakers, particularly from farm states, have called the Cuban embargo a "backward" policy that hurts U.S. producers far more than Fidel Castro. They're right.
Other countries have recognized this and have filled the void created by the embargo. Our isolation of Cuba stands alone, with Brazil, China, Canada, Britain and others benefiting from trade with Cuba. Refusing to allow our goods into Cuba has little effect when similar, if not identical, products can be readily acquired from other countries.
What the sanctions have done is provide Castro with an easy scapegoat for the suffering of his people; he has blamed the embargo for Cuba's deep poverty.
Easing the embargo will give Cubans the chance to sample a freer market. That has the potential to move the country closer toward its next revolution far more effectively than existing sanctions.
Seeing an opportunity in Cuba's changing of the guard, lawmakers from both parties are backing a bill that would open up agriculture exports to Cuba and lift travel restrictions. It should pass.
It's time to reach for a more sensible policy toward Cuba that leaves the hard-liner isolationist approach at the door. Congress should take that path.
JG: I agree that the Cuba embargo is totally ineffective. The parts about the "Cuban Dictator" and "the next revolution" are typical rhetoric of a capitalist newspaper.