October 16, 2021

Castro 1, USA 0: No concessions, just more repression

Castro 1, USA 0: No concessions, just more repressionProponents of lifting the embargo and now President Obama say that U.S. policy has failed because the Castro brothers are still in power. Yet, no policy approach towards Castro’s Cuba has been more broadly applied internationally as the one Obama proposes. Again this year, 188 of 193 countries in the United Nations voted to condemn the U.S. embargo. How successful have those 188 countries been collectively in advocating for democracy in Cuba?

Even those nations that pledge to advocate for democracy while doing business with Cuba’s state-owned monopolies end up paying mere lip-service to human rights. After Obama’s proposed changes, I fear the U.S. will become another contributor in an already long list of nations that helps finance the Castro regime’s repression.

And what about Cuba’s newest tourists? It is of course dangerously naiive to think that mojito sipping/cigar smoking American tourists will accomplish what other freedom loving peoples haven’t by vacationing in Cuba. The embargo already contained exceptions for Americans who legitimately wanted to engage in humanitarian work. It was in fact one of those exceptions that permitted Alan Gross to visit Cuba and his humanitarian work landed him in jail. After Obama’s announcement, I expect the floodgates of irresponsible and ignorant tourists to descend upon Havana to usher in a new era of exploitation and to provide the Castro regime with a bigger lifeline than Soviet Russia or oil-rich Venezuela ever could.

The U.S. bailout of the Castro regime could not come at a better time. Venezuelan oil becomes cheaper by the day and the future of the Maduro regime less certain. With a more organized pro-democracy opposition in Cuba, the Castros also need more resources to continue their record setting number of political arrests. Opening up to U.S. business and travel is also more secure than ever for the Castro regime after having mastered the art of profit and repression without threatening their grip on power.

Since it remains illegal in Cuba for foreigners to do business with anyone other than its state-owned monopolies, we should not expect Americans to be doing business with everyday Cubans anytime soon. Unfortunately that is one in a long list of concessions President Obama forgot to discuss with dictator Raul Castro.