It's Time to End the U.S. Embargo of Cuba

The U.S. government has been tireless in pursuing a policy that does not look better with time


The communist regime in Cuba was just about to come tumbling down, ending decades of dictatorship and opening the way for freedom and democracy. But before that could happen, Jay-Z and Beyonce took a trip to the island. So Cuba's despotism can expect to survive another 50 years.

Well, maybe I exaggerate. It's just possible that the musical couple's presence or absence was utterly irrelevant to Cuba's future. Americans have somewhat less control over the island than we like to imagine.

The U.S. embargo of Cuba has been in effect since 1962, with no end in sight. Fidel Castro's government has somehow managed to outlast the Soviet Union, Montgomery Ward, rotary-dial telephones and 10 American presidents.

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The boycott adheres to the stubborn logic of governmental action. It was created to solve a problem: the existence of a communist government 90 miles off our shores. It failed to solve that problem. But its failure is taken as proof of its everlasting necessity.

If there is any lesson to be drawn from this dismal experience, though, it's that the economic quarantine has been either 1) grossly ineffectual or 2) positively helpful to the regime.

The first would not be surprising, if only because economic sanctions almost never work. Iraq under Saddam Hussein? Nope. Iran? Still waiting. North Korea? Don't make me laugh.

What makes this embargo even less promising is that we have so little help in trying to apply the squeeze. Nearly 200 countries allow trade with Cuba. Tourists from Canada and Europe flock there in search of beaches, nightlife and Havana cigars, bringing hard currency with them. So even if starving the country into submission could work, Cuba hasn't starved and won't anytime soon.

Nor is it implausible to suspect that the boycott has been the best thing that ever happened to the Castro brothers, providing them a scapegoat for the nation's many economic ills. The implacable hostility of the Yankee imperialists also serves to align Cuban nationalism with Cuban communism. Even Cubans who don't like Castro may not relish being told what to do by the superpower next door.

Normally it is no business of the federal government where private citizens want to spend their vacation time. But among those who claim to speak for the Cuban exile community, it is anathema for anyone to visit the island as long as the communists hold power. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was among those lambasting the couple for daring to venture where he doesn't want them to go.

Rubio claimed that people who make visits to Cuba "either don't realize or don't care that they're essentially funding the regime's systematic trampling of people's human rights." Such activity, he said, "provides money to a cruel, repressive and murderous regime."

That may be true. But U.S. law allows Americans to visit the island according to certain rules enforced by the Treasury Department, and some 500,000 people from the U.S. go each year. The rules for cultural trips were tightened last year after Rubio griped that they were too lax.

"The trip was handled according to a standard licensing procedure for federally approved 'people to people' cultural tours to the island," reported Reuters, "and the power couple received no special treatment, said Academic Arrangements Abroad, the New York-based group that organized the trip."

When it comes to sending money to a "cruel, repressive, murderous regime," Rubio's outrage is strangely selective. The same accusation could be laid against anyone who travels to China, Vietnam or Burma—all of which are open to American visitors, as far as Washington is concerned.

Our willingness to trade with them stems from the belief that economic improvement and contact with outsiders will foster liberalization rather than retard it. But the opposite approach is supposed to produce this kind of progress in Cuba.

Do trade and tourism work to weaken repression? The evidence is mixed. But our attempted economic strangulation of Cuba has been an emphatic bust. We keep trying it, and the communist government remains in full control, making a mockery of our strategy.

The U.S. government has been tireless in pursuing a policy that does not look better with time. It could benefit from the advice of W.C. Fields, who said, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then give up. No use being a damned fool about it."

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  1. I wish I could stay relevant by going to Cuba.

    1. Commenting in Chapman articles just doesn’t cut it, will it fist?

      1. Well both are cheaper and better than adopting a Third World kid.

        Or appearing in a Vincent Gallo film.

        1. Vincent Gallo? Was it that? A Family Guy bit or from MST3K?

  2. Ah Cuba, it’s liberty versus liberty. Castro hasn’t worked out for Cubans and U.S. foreign policy has failed to oust Castro. If only the intervention in the 60s would have been more violent.

    Wars work; embargoes don’t.

    1. Wars work; embargoes don’t.

      It worked for Burma.

      1. Has it really yet?

        1. Lyle, I know you have a boner for murder, but the most effective way to destroy a dictatorship is undermining it.

          Loading a million iPod touches with videos of grocery stores, vacation beaches, hospitals, and common suburban neighborhoods and dropping them on North Korea would be far more effective then bombing them.

          1. Loading a million iPod touches with videos of grocery stores

            How is Lyle supposed to jack off to that?

          2. It works in places like Burma or South Africa where the dictators are awful but not fanatical. It never works in places like Cuba or North Korea when the dictators are cruel and fanatical. Castro could care less whether the US trades with him or not. He has no concern for the welfare of his people. The old Soviet Union was the same way. It only collapsed because we forced them into an arms race that bankrupted them.

            So yes, sanctions can work. But only with the right kind of government.

            1. Really John? It only collapsed because we increased military spending in the 80s?

              1. Yes. Had the Soviets been able to expand unchecked, they could have just looted other countries to keep their population happy. And had they not had to spend so much money on defense, they could have papered over the low productivity of the communist system longer.

                It chaps shitheads like Rothbard and Rockwell’s asses. But the Cold War really did bring down communism.

          3. And it is easy for us to say that the US shouldn’t have whacked Castro in the 1960s. The fact that Cuba has chosen to let Castro make the Island into as communism shithole is no skin off my nose. But, if I were an African or Latin American or one of the places that Cuba basically waged war on in the 70s and 80s, I might look at it differently.

            The bottom line however is that Cuba, as bad as it was and is, was not worth risking a nuclear war over. Now they are broke and no longer sponsoring wars. So there is even less reason to care. If the Cubans don’t like Castro, then do something about it. It is not really my problem.

            1. I don’t know whether the US shouldn’t have attempted to whack Castro. I do know they shouldn’t have failed. If you’re going to plot an assassination attempt that will almost certainly be traced back to you, succeed; otherwise, you’ve just ensured that the target will be a national hero.

  3. Free market non-embargoed Jamaica is not much better off economically than Cuba.

    1. Shut the fuck up, shriek.

      1. Oh, I am going to be here watching gold prices implode. I plan to have a nice relevant comment for the 9am links.

        1. Gold is a long term investment, not a short term one.

          I’ll be buying on the dips. Because in the long run, your pictures of dead politicians aren’t going to be worth the paper they’re printed on.

        2. Oh, you noticed that the gold bubble is popping. So what?

    2. You stupid and ignorant motherfucker.

      Jamaica, as a realm of the British Commonwealth, suffered under Euro-Socialism until the 1990s when the Jamaican Parliament began a policy of market liberalization. The Jamaican economy has been growing ever since.

      1. Seriously, you gotta love how leftists blame the market when the place is socialist to the core. Like when they say Africa is full of tiny governments, even though African nations often have more government employees then anywhere else.

        1. And the problem with pretty much every poor country is that they don’t have well defined and protected property rights. For example, in Nigeria no one can ever own mineral rights. So when oil or minerals are discovered, the oil companies just get the government to throw the people living there off of their land. Thus are the wages of the “people” owning all all of the minerals rather than individual property owners. In Haiti it is virtually impossible to transfer ownership of land. It is thus also impossible to get clear title on land. So virtually everyone but the very rich and established are squatters. This prevents people from borrowing money using land as collateral and allows government officials to shake anyone they choose down from brides in return for not evicting them. But remember it is the rampant free market that makes these countries poor.

          1. Evan. I just agree… Patrick`s report is impressive… last tuesday I bought a great Volkswagen Golf GTI after I been earnin $8978 this-last/5 weeks an would you believe $10,000 last-munth. it’s realy the easiest-job Ive ever done. I began this 3 months ago and immediately got me over $73 per-hr. I went to this website
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      2. Jamaica also has sub-1% annual growth, 7% inflation, and debt amounting over 125% of GDP. Far from desirable on all fronts.

      3. Good point. Thatcher gets all the hate, but who nationalized Britain in the first place. Wasn’t Thatcher.

    3. Cause it’s Jamaica man.

      1. Cause it’s Jamaica man mon.

  4. The free movement of people and private property is correct on its own terms, regardless of any utilitarian benefits.

    1. Absolutely true. Add goods and services too – including recreational drugs and prostitution (a subset of private property of course).

      1. But not transfats or 32 oz sodas. Go fuck yourself you miserable little retard and stop pretending you are anything but a fascist.

        1. To be fair to our resident drooling inbred retard, I’ve never seen him supporting gun control or other Bloomberg fetishes.

          He just has this insane idea that the economy is doing well under Obama, and that the long term fiscal state of the Union is strong.

          He’s like Adolf Hitler, in May ’45, issuing movement orders to units which existed only on the map table in his bunker.

          1. He may not support those things publicly. But he slavishly votes for the people who do and whose political identity is based on such. It is like voting for Mike Huckabee but claiming that you really don’t support socially conservative policies.

    2. So it would be OK to embargo Cubatabaco cigars since they are not private property but Cuban state owned property?

  5. Dude seems to know what he is doing over there.

  6. The embargo was not begun to bring the Communist govt down. We tried that w/Bay of Pigs, etc etc. It was to protect the property of Americans in Cuba, which was confiscated w/out compensation by the Communist govt. The US govt must be seen to protect the property of its citizens, wherever and whenever. Otherwise nobody will ever respect it. That’s the logic, not anything about fighting Communism. If Cuba ever negotiates some deal for compensating those whose property it confiscated, or stole, then the embargo would be over, even with the Communists in power.

    1. “If Cuba ever negotiates some deal for compensating those whose property it confiscated, or stole, then the embargo would be over, even with the Communists in power.”

      Ha, and ha.

    2. To protect property rights … we have to violate the property rights and other freedoms of everyone else?

  7. Cuba has never been well governed. Probably the peak of quality was during the 19 years the Nation was ruled directly by the United States Marine Corps; not a high standard. The principal difference between Castro a seems to be that Batista lacked the style to wrap his crippling economic regulations in a haze of Revolutionary jargon that would appeal to Leftist Intellectual Twits. It really is a pity that JFK didn’t fully back the Bay of Pigs invasion; we might have been spared decades of self-righteous morons wearing t-shirts featuring the visage of a murderous psychopath.

    I think we can confidently expect that the embargo will be taken down shortly after the Cuban government announces/admits that El Beard has kicked it. For the last several years the media has been running stories pushing a “Raul Castro isn’t the hardliner that Fidel was a”, which is hogwash of a fairly high and fetid order.

    What will be interesting is seeing if what is left of the Cuban economy can survive the fall of the embargo. Communist governments have historically had poor luck in adjusting to changed market conditions, and the Cuban Cigar industry is already having serious problems with quality control. Any attempt to cash in on the American market is likely to result in the quality of Cuban cigars taking a plunge that would seriously ding their reputation. And cigars are about the only thing Cuba produces that anybody actually wants.

    1. “And cigars are about the only thing Cuba produces that anybody actually wants.”

      Uh, under-age hos.

      1. But Senator Menendez can only do so much for your economy.

    2. I am not really into cigars. But the people I know who are, all say that Cubans are pretty poorly made and are not what they used to be. They are sold all over the world. I doubt they would have to gear up much to accommodate the US market. But ending the embargo will not keep the communists from fucking up that industry just like they fuck everything else up.

      1. I second this. I’ve heard that the best “Cubans” are the Cuban-seeded cigars you get from the Dominican. Actual Cuban cigars ride off of a reputation they earned decades ago, and have since failed to justify. There are a few high-end mass market single malts that are similar, as well as some luxury cars, etc.

        Ironic that the Cuban cigar industry actually influenced market forces to propel imitation Cubans to a higher level of quality.

        1. I’ve worked in the Cigar industry, I even have a certification (admittedly from a program that probably wouldn’t mean much to anyone here). The situation with Cuban Cigars isn’t as simple as “They are the best” or “They aren’t any good anymore”.

          The very best cigar I have ever smoked was a 2 year old Cuban Montecristo #2. It was beautiful constructed, with a lovely oily dark wrapper, and the smoke was rich, spicy, and almost meaty. It was given to me by a customer, who had bought it in a Cubatobacco store (i.e. an official outlet of the legitimate Cuban industry). That said, I have also smoked Cuban cigars, brought to me by people who got them from official outlets like Cubatobacco, that were among the worst cigars I have ever smoked?and I started with Muriel Air-Tips.

          The problem, at least according to industry reports, is that Cuba is making was many cigars as it can, and slightly more. They have next to nothing else that anybody wants, and are desperately short of just about everything. So, they are already straining the production capacity of their one money-maker, and it’s showing in their quality control.

        2. Part 2

          If and when the U.S. market opens up, the temptation to try to move into it on a charge scale will be overwhelming. But they are already operating at capacity. Any attempt to expand quickly will result in more quality control problems, especially since the Cuban government has been skimping on maintenance (all governments do this). Add to this that it takes AT LEAST three years to go from seedling plant to cured tobacco, and another year to get a properly aged cigar, and you can see why I expect the quality of Cuban Cigars to hit rock bottom for five to ten years after the embargo ends. After that it may come back.

          1. I had a conversation with a member of the Torano Cigar family a while back. His comment was that if Cuba fell, the cigar manufacturers would still wait between 2 and 5 years before going back to the island. The reasoning was that it would take time for all the various small farms and vendors to shake out before they would want to expend capital, there.

    3. Hey, those Che shirts provide a nice living for San Jose airport vendors, and the people they sell to don’t get the first bit of irony about it.

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  9. what Annie said I’m in shock that people can get paid $6982 in a few weeks on the computer. have you read this site

  10. I wonder how great they’d be doing if everyone who could leave, did.

    Oh , wait: that would require immigration changes. I guess our policy is to help the Cubans out and get them a better system, as long as it doesn’t involve them living here with ours.

  11. Yes! Clearly what Cuba needs is for its people to become the TV-addicted nitwits that most Americans are. Oh if only the corporations could bring them the enlightenment we so have!


    Say what you will about the embargo, but at least it has kept the country from being subsumed into the American corporate empire. Once the embargo ends, how long until Havana looks like Times Square? Disneyfied.

    1. Have you seen Havana recently? I’m told that it looks remarkably like large sections of Detroit. With sun, granted.

  12. like Julie implied I am dazzled that a stay at home mom able to make $7893 in a few weeks on the computer. did you look at this site link

  13. yes i see a lot of comments about cuba but have you been there…the education system is tops in the world…in the us i am asked if there are paved roads in canada…i cuba i am asked questions about goverment if harper(our prime minister) will last in office,,,next cubans look at haiti and say this is what its like to be part of the us a slave state…cubans can leave the island 3 flights a week to canada 2 to toronto 1 to montreal and mostly filled.. my friends come to visit when they want were here in march..oh yes i have been to cuba 12 times and lived there for awhile..

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