Cuban Policy Reform

“In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.”

That is from President Obama’s speech, discussing the re-establishment of partial diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Senator Marco Rubio’s reaction deserves special attention. He claims this move is “providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba” and mockingly states the ability to “buy Coca-Cola” will not improve the economic fortunes of everyday Cubans. Also, there’s this statement:

“I don’t care if the polls say 99 percent of people in Florida want to lift the embargo. I would still be for (keeping) it,” Rubio said. “My goal is freedom and democracy in Cuba, and the embargo gives us leverage.”

My counterpoints to Senator Rubio:

1. Don’t you think our embargo has done more to make the Castros “permanent fixtures” than any attempt to normalize relations?

2. Instead of trivializing freer markets, maybe we should recognize the power of more open markets to improve Cubans’ livelihoods. That appears to be happening as we speak.

3. I don’t believe majority rule should dictate everything, but it’s a funny thing to invoke support for “freedom and democracy” for a policy that imposes burdens and is losing the support of your constituency.

It’s not like President Obama’s action overturns 50-plus years of policy towards Cuba; further congressional action is needed. Maybe Senator Rubio has more faith in the efficacy of government than I do; personally I’d prefer policies toward other communist countries that encourage them to become “richer and more prosperous, because that’s a potential trading partner, customers for our products and services.” Which will also do more to undermine political oppression than any embargo.

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