Ted Cruz

No, Ted Cruz, Obama's Cuba Trip Is Not 'Appeasement'

Demagogic Cuban-American demagogues in support of a failed policy

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The face of appeasement. ||| whitehouse.gov
whitehouse.gov

To the surprise of no one who has followed either the career of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) or the traditions of Cuban-American politics, the GOP's presidential number-two is spluttering with indignation at President Barack Obama's historic trip this week to Cuba. From a Cruz-authored piece in Politico:

[I]t is so sad, and so injurious to our future as well as Cuba's, that Obama has chosen to legitimize the corrupt and oppressive Castro regime with his presence on the island.

The White House keeps saying that this trip will chart a new course for people-to-people relations, but all that Obama's appeasement of the Castro dictatorship has done so far is create a channel for inside deals between large corporations and the Cuban military, which holds all the keys to the island's economy. The effect will not be liberalization but rather the institutionalization of the Communist dictatorship as the profits from this détente will line the pockets not only of Fidel and Raul Castro, but also of Raul's son, Alejandro Castro Espin.

El Presidente. ||| CNN
CNN

Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? Then George W. Bush conferred legitimacy on Saudi Arabia, his dad did likewise to the Soviet Union (as did Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon), and of course that Nixon fellow famously propped up Red China.

As for "appeasement," just because Republican politicians have serially debased this Neville Chamberlain-echoing word beyond all human recognition doesn't makes its deployment here any less egregious. With the exception of a three-for-two swap of Cuban agents for Castro-imprisoned Americans, and the politicized removal of Cuba from the State Department's arbitrary list of nations that support terrorism, almost every other policy change President Obama has made—and wisely so—has involved lifting restrictions on Americans: to visit Cuba, to send money to the relatives back home, and so on.

Cruz, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and other anti-Castro hawks, makes the category error of assuming that a more prosperous Cuban population makes for a more powerful Castro regime. As I attempted to explain in December 2014, back when it was Rubio banging the "appeasement" drum,

If I hand a Cuban friend $100 in Havana, that Cuban now has $100 (which is four or five times the average monthly salary). Now, that friend may pay consumption taxes on things he buys with that $100 at a state-owned store, or pay taxes on the interest he earns by depositing the sum, but the bulk of the transaction goes to the individual Cuban, on terms that the Cuban governmet cannot "control." Yes, increased transfers from Americans to Cubans will no doubt increase the net receipts of the Cuban government. But it will also doubtlessly increase the share of the island's total money owned by individuals. It will, in other words, increase individual autonomy in one of the most repressed countries on earth.

Sen. Jeff Flake and our tour guide. ||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

Since then I have re-visited the island (for the first time since 1998) and observed this phenomenon up close. A noticeable segment of the population has gained at least some financial and experiential independence from the police state. They are not, in my observation, spending that extra money on flower arrangements for the Revolution. As Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) told us during our visit, "You have about 25 percent of Cubans who work fully in the private sector…. The big change is the number of Cubans being able to not have to rely on government and therefore can hold their government more accountable. I would say that we've passed the point of no return."

Wishful thinking? Sure. But a 25 percent private sector is a big number in a totalitarian state, and the other alternative—exacerbating the home-created misery of the Cuban population—didn't exactly produce boffo results for the previous half-century.

I share Ted Cruz's concern about the appalling state of freedom in Castro's open-air prison, and I sincerely hope President Obama takes the opportunity of his big Havana speech to acknowledge Cuban political prisoners by name. There is nothing antithetical to championing human rights and international exchange. But Cruz's characterization of the president's actions as "cav[ing] to a communist dictator in our own hemisphere" demonstrates a politician addicted to his own cheap anti-Obama demagoguery, and to a policy that heedlessly restricted American freedom in the demonstrably futile goal of spreading the stuff 90 miles away.

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299 responses to “No, Ted Cruz, Obama's Cuba Trip Is Not 'Appeasement'

  1. Not appeasement.

    TREASON!!!!!!!!

    1. America need more foreign Princes and Potentates on its side – why doesn’t Ted hop down to Havana and run for caudillo?

    2. Can’t spell Treason without Reason.

  2. Oh, I dunno.

    The trip itself, not necessarily.

    How its done? Can absolutely be appeasement. If Obama participates in what amounts to a big multi-day pro-Castro potemkin party rally/PR event, then I think its probably fair to call it appeasement.

    to yield or concede to the belligerent demands of (a nation, group, person, etc.) in a conciliatory effort, sometimes at the expense of justice or other principles.

    Not sure what Cuba’s belligerent demands are, but I bet they demanded a lot of control over his visit, and are using it for a big multi-day pro-Castro potemkin party rally/PR event.

      1. If Obama’s visit retards the advance of Cuban liberty by legitimizing the Castro regime, then libertarians should care.

        But if it helps, we should support it.

        1. the advance of Cuban liberty

          “Cuban liberty” has all the reality of unicorns and cold fusion.

          1. I could see Cuba’s trajectory being like that of China: freer trade is necessary, but not sufficient, to liberalize the country. Each one also needs a liberal population that actually wants accountable, limited government.

            1. We don’t even seem to have that in the US anymore. Why should we think Cubans want it?

              I’m all for it but people don’t seem to vote for people that might actually make it a reality.

              1. We don’t even seem to have that in the US anymore. Why should we think Cubans want it?

                Which is why life for the average Cuban won’t change no matter what the U.S. does (short of annexing Cuba). Other than exporting liberal ideas, there is nothing you and I can do for them.

              2. Funny how you make these assumptions when the Cuban people haven’t actually voted for the better part of a century.

                Maybe it’s worth giving them the benefit of the doubt instead of condescendingly assuming that they won’t live up to your high standards?

                The people who tend to value liberty the most are the ones who’ve lived under communism themselves. Look at most of Eastern Europe. I can see Cuba going the same direction if given the chance.

                Unfortunately, Obama is determined to ensure they never get that chance.

            2. China experimented with village level elections.

              IIRC, they ended that experiment, claiming its citizens “weren’t ready” for democracy.

              Really the claims that allowing trade with repressive regimes opens them up has not really been proven.

              I could just as well say that North Korea was forced to make market reforms because we starved them. This is true – they starved and had to allow free markets for food.

          2. If cold unicorn fusion isn’t real , why are there so many ibexes around ?

        2. There is a simple way to defeat communism without it costing us a nickle. In fact, it will bring us wealth.

          That simple formula is to trade with them and do nothing else. No restrictions, no demands, no ultimatums…

          Our country will prosper. Their country will prosper. Their people will become accustom to having more and will demand more. Communism cannot provide more and will need to loosen its grip (IOW, move towards liberty). See China as a prime example of this. China becomes more capitalistic everyday. Yes, the process is slow, but it is sure and doesn’t require the use of force to accomplish.

          And here’s the best part. If it doesn’t work, we are no worse off than before. We profit from the trade and spend no money to further the initiation of force.

          So, to get back round to your point, CW, if sucking a little communist dick is the prerequisite to normalizing trade between our two countries, fine. It’ll be well worth it.

          1. That simple formula is to trade with them and do nothing else. No restrictions, no demands, no ultimatums.

            On this I agree. But I’m not sure Obama’s visit will have any positive effect. Heads of state conferring with one another doesn’t seem to advance liberty one iota. I think there’s ample room to criticize Obama for what appears to be a mere ego trip, wholly divorced from the good policy of lifting the embargo.

            1. Heads of state conferring with one another doesn’t seem to advance liberty one iota.

              Nixon-China

              1. I think Deng’s reforms deserve the credit there.

                1. Exactly. Just buying wheat from the Soviets didn’t free the Soviet Union.

                  Nazis and Soviets traded, too. Did that free anyone?

          2. The problem with that idea is when you trade with a truly communist country, the people of that country aren’t seeing any of the benefits. Only the elite in that country.

            When people in a factory in Cuba make something, the company pays the Cuban government their salaries. Then the Cuban government pays the workers. They pocket the difference.

            Yeah, in China and Viet Nam, it worked a bit difference, but Cuba is far more communist than those two countries. Not to mention, a small island is easier to control by a dictator than a large country.

          3. China many have become more “capitalistic”,but not more free. Same for Cuba.
            just ask all the dissidents Cuba arrested just before Comrade Obama’s visit.

          4. Totally worked with China! Oh wait, no, no it didn’t. All it did was enrich the party at the expense of everyone else. They just replaced communism with single-party authoritarianism.

            You know what does work? Destroying the communist government and giving the people free elections. Former eastern-bloc nations did that and now they’re basically the most sensible in Europe.

        3. Too many, including, apparently Welch, are under the impression that 0blama’s visit is intended to make Cuba more like the U.S. when it is clear that the likes of 0blama would prefer the U.S. to be more like Cuba.

      2. So you think it is okay to be used as a propaganda tool for one of the most oppressive and evil places on earth. Suppose the Cuban government called you up tomorrow and offered you a free week in Cuba hanging out on the beach being wined and dined and the only condition was they get to use your trip as propaganda for the regime. You would take such a trip? If so, why do you think it is okay to allow yourself to be used to help support a police state? If not, then why is it not okay for you to do but okay for the President? And if it is wrong for the President, then shouldn’t American voters care?

        1. If so, why do you think it is okay to allow yourself to be used to help support a police state?

          You’re not really in a position to ask that question, are you?

          1. Even if I am not, that doesn’t excuse your’s or Frank’s inability to answer it.

            1. I think it’s okay to allow myself to be used to help support a police state because I don’t want to be murdered by police.

              1. Okay Nikki. Good for you. What that has to do with this is a mystery to everyone but you. But good for you I guess.

                1. What that has to do with this is a mystery to everyone but you.

                  Um, you are the one who asked.

          2. Boom.

        2. Suppose the Cuban government called you up tomorrow and offered you a free week in Cuba hanging out on the beach being wined and dined and the only condition was they get to use your trip as propaganda for the regime. You would take such a trip?

          Yes. Is anyone really that unaware of what kind of a government Cuba is? What propaganda does Cuba really need to keep releasing?

          If so, why do you think it is okay to allow yourself to be used to help support a police state?

          For the rum and ropa vieja.

          If not, then why is it not okay for you to do but okay for the President?

          It’s okay for both of us. Should we also cut all diplomatic/trade ties with China? (FREE TRADE)

          And if it is wrong for the President, then shouldn’t American voters care?

          There are probably more important things that the average IQ American voter can whine about than a presidential trip to Cuba.

          1. It’s the presidential entourage that bugs me. Wookie, brats, mother inlaw along for a vaca at our expense. F those people!

            1. Well, it is cheaper and closer than the usual multi-million $ Hawaii boondoggle.

              1. What I don’t like is that they got ROUNDTRIP tickets!!!

          2. Note that Cuba is NOT paying for the trip, we are. So shit analogy.

            1. So shit analogy.

              Well…John.

            2. But the trip is being used for propaganda purposes. Would you go there on your own dime if you knew it was going to be used for Propaganda?

              I forget how dim witted some of the people are on here. The fact that Cuba paid for the trip is not important to my argument. I only said they would in my hypothetical to avoid someone saying it was not their fault if Cuba used their trip for propaganda. I never thought someone would be dumb enough to make the point you are trying to make.

              Old man, you have reached the point where you are almost too dumb to argue with. It is well neigh impossible to have a discussion with someone who misses the entire point.

              1. It is well neigh impossible to have a discussion with someone who misses the entire point.

                Man, tell me about it.

              2. The fact that Cuba paid for the trip is not important to my argument.

                Then why did you say it?

                Would you go there on your own dime if you knew it was going to be used for Propaganda?

                He’s not going there on his own dime, so you’re just lurching from one shit analogy to another.

                How badly WERE you concussed?

                1. Oh, and if some regime which follows your philosophy of governance wanted to use my visit that they paid for as propaganda, they can go right ahead. Propaganda isn’t bombs.

                2. Then why did you say it?

                  I explained that. I forgot just how stupid you are.

                  He’s not going there on his own dime, so you’re just lurching from one shit analogy to another

                  So it is okay to endorse horrible totalitarian regimes as long as the tax payers are paying you to do it? If not, then why does the fact that the taxpayers are doing it make any difference?

                  Jesus Old Man, try harder.

                  1. Keep lurching, a neurologist will be arriving shortly.

              3. Yes, I would go there if I knew it was going to be used for propaganda, IF I thought there was a possibility that it might have other effects as well.

          3. Yes. Is anyone really that unaware of what kind of a government Cuba is? What propaganda does Cuba really need to keep releasing?

            So you would have goose stepped down the Tiergarten in 1939 for the right price? Hey everyone knew the Nazis were bad guys by then. Good to see you have your moral priorities set.

            For the rum and ropa vieja.

            So basically you will do anything for a buck and are the immoral wretch everyone thought you were.

            There are probably more important things that the average IQ American voter can whine about than a presidential trip to Cuba.

            So if something is not the worst thing that a President has done, it is automatically right and moral? I see your reasoning skills are on par with your sense of morality.

            1. Damn John, when you’re right, you’re right. Isolating Cuba has been super successful at toppling the Castros and we should continue that policy position until seven generations are dead. For liberty!

              1. Okay Jesse,

                So because the embargo hasn’t made them free, it is now okay to just embrace them and send the President down to give them a big wet kiss? Are total embargo or warm embrace the only two available option?

                Come on Jesse, I always thought of you as being smarter than that.

                1. Come on Jesse, I always thought of you as being smarter than that.

                  I’ve always been a fan of this rhetorical device of yours, John. It’s charming, like southern women saying “bless his heart” instead of “fuck off”.

                  We’ve seen over and over again how much access to a rising standard of living destabilizes shitty governments. There’s no Soviet Union to put missiles in our backyard on Cuban soil. The BEST thing we can do for the Cuban people (and the worst thing we can do for the Castro family) is to take them out of their box and free them up for economic growth. Broadband, cheaply made Chinese computers and phones with 4g LTE will make their totalitarian shtick harder and harder to maintain.

                  I want Cuba dick deep in capitalism before we have a chance to elect an asshole that might pander to aging conservatives who thought a total embargo was a good idea in the first place.

              2. That’s because, I think, Canada and the EU continued to trade with it.

                I don’t know. In my personal experience, when I visited, what, 18 years ago all that kept popping in my head was I helped to keep Castro in power for another day.

                1. Eh, I had a professor that studied in Cuba. Loved the Cubans, had some really awful tales about the government, but one recurring theme was how much the Castro regime relied on American interference in their economy as an excuse for why conditions were the way they were. We’re the Emmanuel Goldstein for their EngSoc.

                  1. Yeh. Sorta like how Arab kleptocracies who hoard all the oil money blame the Jews for the wretched conditions of their people.

                    Everyone needs a convenient scapegoat.

                    That was my experience. Amazing people, retarded government.

                  2. but one recurring theme was how much the Castro regime relied on American interference in their economy as an excuse for why conditions were the way they were. We’re the Emmanuel Goldstein for their EngSoc.

                    Ummm…no. Cubans are all too aware that Castro is using America as a scapegoat–they don’t believe it for a second.

                    I lived for years in the Cuban ex-pat community. Knew new refugees and people who got out decades ago. They all wanted a REAL blockade–a siege that left Castro without anything–especially after the USSR died it’s lepers death. No one needs a Goldstein when Big Brother’s right there–ripe for the hatin’.

            2. So you would have goose stepped down the Tiergarten in 1939 for the right price? Hey everyone knew the Nazis were bad guys by then. Good to see you have your moral priorities set.

              Cuba invaded Poland and started killing Jews? Well that escalated quickly, mama pinga.

              So basically you will do anything for a buck and are the immoral wretch everyone thought you were.

              Meh. I doubt me taking, or not taking, a trip to Cuba (paid for by Cuba) would have any effect on their regime one way or another.

              So if something is not the worst thing that a President has done, it is automatically right and moral? I see your reasoning skills are on par with your sense of morality.

              So if something is not the best thing a President has done, it’s automatically wrong and immoral? Also, my morality is not your morality, collectivist.

              1. Cuba invaded Poland and started killing Jews? Well that escalated quickly, mama pinga.

                Cuba is a police state on par with Nazi Germany and essentially invaded SW Africa in the 1960s and 70s which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Cuba also funded multiple guerrilla wars all thought South America which killed in the millions.

                Cuba is much smaller and more incompetent than Nazi Germany, but morally is not any better. I thought everyone knew that. I didn’t realize people were as ignorant of history as you appear to be.

                Meh. I doubt me taking, or not taking, a trip to Cuba (paid for by Cuba) would have any effect on their regime one way or another.

                So that makes taking their blood money okay? Is that how you judge your actions? That they are okay as long as you can convince yourself that won’t do too much harm?

                So if something is not the best thing a President has done, it’s automatically wrong and immoral? Also, my morality is not your morality, collectivist.

                No. But this is immoral and wrong for the reasons I have stated, which you have yet to refute.

                1. This outside observer thinks John got the better of the argument.

                  End the embargo. Send Obama to Hawaii.

                  1. John is paid in blood money, so I don’t think the pot has ever been blacker.

                  2. I dunno, I think Obama announcing plans to move Google in to provide broadband and wifi internet access to Cuba is a legitimately big deal and a good thing. Currently all of the broadband (what little of it there is) is provided by a Chinese company.

                    I’m pretty flabbergasted that people are bitching about an American president actively chipping away at a totalitarian state, but clearly principals not principles, amirite?

                    1. Plans.

                      from the 8th year of his presidency.

                    2. Both China and Russia have the internet (if in one case behind a firewall) doesn’t make them friendly to their own citizens or to citizens of the United States.

    1. THIS

      If he kisses Castro butt the whole time and talks little or none about their oppression – then yes, this is appeasement.

      If he looks around at the dump that is Cuba and explains that it is the direct result of tyranny… tells then that a government controlled economy is the road to ruin…. and you cannot separate economic and civil liberty…

      Never mind, he’s going to appease.

      1. Nixon:China::Obumbles:Cuba

        He’s more Milhousian every day

        1. Can wage and price controls be far off?

      2. I pegging he talks about oppression at about 15%. His mission is to ‘normalize’ relations and reminding Castro he’s an oppressive commie asshole isn’t going to help.

        If I read and understand things correctly.

        1. It worked for Reagan and Gorbachev.

      3. Appeasement might or might not help the Cubans. No way to tell, because it has not been tried. No evidence. But there IS evidence that continuing to do what we have been doing for the past half-century does NOT help any Cubans.

    2. It’s big multi-day pro-Castro potemkin party rally/PR events all the way down.

      1. Judging by the picture of Obama standing in front a Che mural – this is pure appeasement.

        http://www.weeklystandard.com/….._click=rss

        1. Of course. No one who hates communism would ever be caught in a photo like that.

          Oh, wait…..

          1. Uh – where the podium in Obama’s? Did he and his pals just happen to line up for a photo without noticing what’s behind them?

  3. “”””Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? Then George W. Bush conferred legitimacy on Saudi Arabia, his dad did likewise to the Soviet Union (as did Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon), and of course that Nixon fellow famously propped up Red China.”””

    Yes, they gave them legitimacy, they propped them up. Next Question?

    1. I think it’s called “birds of a feather”…

    2. George W. Bush is hardly the only American propping up Saudi Arabia.

    3. How are you supposed to tell a legitimate government from an illegitimate one?

      1. Legitimate governments have a tough skin but give a little when you squeeze them.

  4. “The effect will not be liberalization but rather the institutionalization of the Communist dictatorship”

    Well, that’s just retarded since after 50 years of Castro holding onto power, I’d say they’re pretty firmly institutionalized.

    “Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? Then George W. Bush conferred legitimacy on Saudi Arabia”

    George Bush and every other president have conferred legitimacy upon Saudi Arabia though, since they’re a major ally of ours despite their criminal justice system being indistinguishable from ISIS.

    1. I think the argument is that this solidifies the post-Fidel regime. Personally, I’m amazed he is still alive. He can’t last much longer, and when the head of a cult of personality dies, that’s usually the best window for regime change. If Obama’s visit strengthens the regime. . . .

      1. But the post-Fidel regime will just pass to other Castros. The moment of change would be when there’s no obvious successor, whereas there are obvious successors to the Fidel regime.

        I don’t think this strengthens the Castros, although Obama’s tonedeafness is pretty horrible regardless.

        1. I tend to agree that Raul has been set up pretty well to step into Fidel’s shoes.

    2. Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? Then George W. Bush conferred legitimacy on Saudi Arabia”

      The answer to both those questions is obviously yes. I don’t understand why reason asks them as rhetorical questions thinking anyone could think they mean otherwise.

      1. The Saudi Arabia one is incredibly ridiculous since our relationship with Saudi Arabia is actually one of the worst things the US is doing regarding foreign policy. We’re helping them gut Yemen right now, so I’d say our relationship has definitely granted them undue legitimacy.

        1. And doesn’t Reason claim that our support and endorsement of oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia contribute to terrorism?

        2. Saudi Arabia is the major supporter and exporter of Wahhabism which inspires most of the Islamic terrorist.

          Their Wahhabism is so strict that they destroy Islamic Shrines to the Companions and Family of Mohamed in Saudi Arabia because they don’t fit in the beliefs of Wahhabism

      2. I think that the “giving them legitimacy” thing is irrelevant. These are the people who are running things. We have relations with tons of governments that are shitty and oppressive.

        Perhaps it’s me. I’m not convinced that any government should be considered legitimate, so I don’t think it’s very relevant. Whether or not we are giving them any legitimacy, the governments in these countries are the governments and that’s who you have to deal with.

  5. Hey Teddy, how’s that Cuban policy working out? I think we got em. We just need to keep it in place for another 54 years, or so, and Cuba will be a democratic paradise.

    Moron.

    1. We were only a few years away from liberating Cuba! Damn this Obama!

      1. Bay of Pigs Part 2: Bacon Brigade

      2. The flying cars and nuclear fusion must have been on Cuba all along.

  6. We were one day away from the sanctions and diplomatic isolation finally bringing down the Castro regime in CUba, but then Obama had to go and ruin it.

    1. Did the ending of sanctions and diplomatic isolation bring down the Chinese or Vietnamese governments?

      1. You may be operating under the mistaken assumption that it is the business of the US government to topple the governments of foreign countries with which they are not at war.

        1. Is it the business of the US government to subsidize and support the government of foreign countries

          1. Nobody is talking about doing that. This post is about lifting restrictions on Americans who want to travel and trade with people in Cuba.

            1. No, it is talking about Obama traveling to Cuba. Does lifting the embargo require going down and doing photo ops with Castro?

              And since you are so smug about knowing how oppressive it is, why are you here claiming you trade with the people of Cuba. It is a police state. You don’t trade with the people. You trade with the government.

          2. The restrictions are on us. Lifting them is the right thing to do. My objection is Obama and clan getting a luxury vacation on our dime.

        2. SHUT UP AND EAT YOUR FREEDOM

      2. “Did the ending of sanctions and diplomatic isolation bring down the Chinese or Vietnamese governments?”

        Sanctions and isolation work best on nations like South Africa and Israel, nations that are on the wrong side of history, yet need to be seen as aping Western Values. This doesn’t work for revolutionary communists who have their own ideas about Western Values.

  7. “”””You have about 25 percent of Cubans who work fully in the private sector””‘

    So will any proposed free trade with Cuba just include these 25% or will the Communist organizations which make up the other 75% of the economy also get that advantage

    That is also depending on how much of the 25%are actually individuals and how much are thinly disguised communists with ties to the government and given special privilges to open so-called private sector.

    1. I agree to a point, but we’re also doing a huge amount of business with China so does anyone really give a shit?

    2. You have about 25 percent of Cubans who work fully in the private sector

      What does “private sector” mean in Cuba?

      The hotel workers at the tourist hotels work under contracts, where their pay goes to the State, and the State gives them a pathetic allowance and keeps the rest. Does that count as “private sector”? They are working in private sector hotels, after all.

      1. What does “private sector” mean in Cuba?

        Under the table.

    3. So will any proposed free trade with Cuba just include these 25% or will the Communist organizations which make up the other 75% of the economy also get that advantage

      Who fucking cares?

      1. ALL trade benefits the US
      2. It benefits Cubans. All of them. When it does, they’ll want more of it. You want to undermine communism? Fucking trade with them!

      1. It benefits Cubans. All of them.

        Not so sure about this. It definitely benefits and enriches Castro and his cronies. The hotel workers, for example, don’t seem any better off.

        1. R C Dean|3.21.16 @ 12:52PM|#
          “…The hotel workers, for example, don’t seem any better off.”

          You really think government control of trade is so absolute that there will be no leakage?

          1. The hotel companies pay the government directly for their contracted workers.

            The contracted workers get a small fraction of that in pay.

            Will some people tip them directly? Sure. But I have a hard time concluding that the small amount of leakage outweighs the massive amount of cronyism.

      2. Please show an example of this

        The Soviet Union and Warsaw Pack collapsed when there were great restrictions on trade with them.

          1. The Chinese Communist Party, all 80 million of them are still firmly in control in China.

            Go to China and question this and they will put you on jail or deport you, fight against it and they will put a bullet in your head.

            1. DJF|3.21.16 @ 1:15PM|#
              “The Chinese Communist Party, all 80 million of them are still firmly in control in China.”

              Therefore, we must avoid all trade and let millions starve!

              1. He said if you want to undermine communism then trade with them, I pointed out that the communist countries we trade with are not undermined but firmly in control.

                As to starving people, that is you’re buddy communist trading partners who do that.

                1. The communist party might not have been undermined in China, but that’s mostly because they pretty much gave up on teh whole communism thing. Communism in China has most certainly been significantly undermined by trade. Had they stuck with trying to do communism instead of the weird authoritarian state capitalism thing they have now, the party probably wouldn’t still be in power and it’s quite likely that millions more people would be dead from war or famine. Trade has undoubtedly made life better and more free for Chinese people. Yeah, the government is still awful and authoritarian. But more economic freedom is a good start if you care about people more than government ideologies.

            2. Chinese citizens as a whole are far more wealthy and free than they were prior to the establishing of U.S. relations. You asked, he answered.

              1. That is true Jordan. But China is not Cuba. Unlike China, Cuba has shown no interest in opening its society at all. It just wants US money to fund its prison state.

            3. And they’ve been getting freer every single fucking day since Nixon went there.

              Trade brings liberty. PERIOD!

              It may take a while, but it’s a much better option than using force.

      3. 1. ALL trade benefits the US
        2. It benefits Cubans. All of them.

        This may be true, but it’s irrelevant. Lifting trade restrictions should be done because restrictions on the freedoms of Americans by the American government is morally wrong.

        1. restrictions on the freedoms of Americans by the American government is morally wrong.

          Agreed. So…

          win-win-win

  8. There’s not that much difference between Castro and Obama politically. The main diff is that Castro is still an old school true believer in the commie dream. Obama knows, like the Chinese, that you have to mix some crony capitalism into the deal to get it to sort of work for a while.

    So basically, what Comrade Obama is going to tell comrade Castro is that sure, your ideology is correct, but you gotta let some of my friends come down here and set up some big resorts and invite in tourism, and then you and I divide up some of the spoils. I have to retire from this POTUS gig soon, and I’m gonna need some money.

    1. I find it hard to believe he would be. I reckon, sure, he still dreams but a large chunk of his mind has to have become pragmatic over time. He reads. He observes. He sees what’s going on. Who are left standing? Him and North fucking Korea. And China of course.Three or four ding-a-ling countries believe in the dream and the dream is actually a nightmare.

      I just have to think he knows this whether he admits this personally or publicly or not.

  9. Welp, this article has convinced me. I’m going to vote for Trump and/or Hillary now!

    /sarc

    Seriously though, I’d agree his trip doesn’t legitimize their regime; but I do think he wishes he could legitimize it more than he already has. America has come a long way since the missile crisis. Namely, we’re now in business with the tyrants.

    1. Probably won’t make any difference in the longish run, but man, it leaves in a stench in my nostrils.

      1. People keep saying that, but historically it seems like it does in fact make a difference.

    2. but I do think he wishes he could legitimize it more than he already has.

      Huh? Why? Because he’s a big commie?

      This is about Obama and his legacy. Just look at how it’s repeatedly called an “historic trip.” That’s all he wants.

      1. I thought I recalled reading that Obama wanted Congress to end the embargo, which was what I was referring to. Not that he’s done anything concrete, merely that essentially yes he’s a socialist/authoritarian.

    3. we’re now in business with the tyrants.

      And there was a time when we weren’t?

  10. Meh. Wake me up when I can use my passport for a round trip to Havana.

    1. Wake me up when I can travel to Havana without a passport.

      1. Wake me up when a trip to Havana doesn’t enrich the Castro regime and its cronies.

        1. I take it you don’t fly anywhere in the US for fear of enriching the TSA and its cronies?

          1. Stop asking questions and explain yourself to the cartel member, Hugh!

          2. I haven’t flown anywhere since the TSA was created, unfortunitily I still have to pay taxes

            1. ^This

            2. ^^ Likewise ^^ actually ’98 was my last flight. I hated getting wanded every damn time. It was like I was on a list or sumpin.

          3. I fly a lot less than I used to, and I believe the TSA is funded mostly out of general revenue, not the fees I pay when I fly.

            1. I believe the TSA is funded mostly out of general revenue, not the fees I pay when I fly.

              Oh? Per the Delta website:

              September 11th Security Fee (aka U.S. Passenger Civil Aviation Security Fee) U.S. government-assessed fee of $5.60 per one-way trip with a U.S. enplanement for security costs (fee may accrue multiple times for itineraries with stopovers)

              1. “According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (http://www.transtats.bts.gov/), a total of 631,939,829 passengers boarded domestic flights in the United States in the year 2010. This averages to 1.73 million passengers flying per day.”

                So, if I crunched the numbers correctly, that’s $9,688,000 a day. Then multiply that by 365…peanuts!

              2. Yeah, and that fee funds less than 15% of TSA’s budget. Hence “TSA is funded mostly out of general revenue, not the fees I pay when I fly.”

            2. The TSA is partially fundedpartially funded by the ticket tax that you pay every time you fly, which basically makes you Hitler’s best friend.

              1. Could I be his cousin? The perks are better.

          4. TSA, as disgusting and anti-4th Amendment as they are, is now equivalent to the Castro regime? Never mind equivalent, are they even close to each other in their severity and scope?

            Like the comparisons of Castro to Nazi Germany down thread—even with Castro’s horrific prisons, show me that they’ve operated anything like Auschwitz or even Mauthausen—both sides would do well to stop for a sec and see if their comparisons came anywhere close to reality before hitting ‘submit’.

        2. I take it you don’t fly anywhere?

  11. Hey, remember all the miracle science and best health care system in the world that Cuba has. We’ve been hearing this on the TV for years now. Well, here’s their chance to show the world. President of USA is there. I bet that’s why he’s going, to visit these miraculous sci-fi like health care systems in the people’s utopia and air it live. Right?

  12. I could have sworn that making nice with oppressive dictatorships was a serious faux pas under blowback theory.

  13. I sincerely hope President Obama takes the opportunity of his big Havana speech to acknowledge Cuban political prisoners by name.

    “”Traitors that they are, they take up the standard of the Trujillos, of the war criminals and of the international vested interests who are enemies of Cuba.!!””

    (rousing applause)

  14. You know, I can’t help but value the opinion of a man–or men who are actual refugees from Cuba or the children of refugees over Matt’s bloviating in defense of Obama.

    What next? Cries of literacy and free healthcare?

    1. Not all refugees are created equally in Reasonland, and the rest of the leftist media cesspool. Muslim refugees are sacred, should get whatever they want, and are fully justified in murdering anyone they want to in the cause of overthrowing their repressive regimes. Anti-Castro Cuban refugees on the other hand can eat shit.

      And you just leave Matt’s Obamessiah alone, you cheap demagogue.

      1. Not all refugees are created equally in Reasonland, and the rest of the leftist media cesspool. Muslim refugees are sacred, should get whatever they want, and are fully justified in murdering anyone they want to in the cause of overthrowing their repressive regimes. Anti-Castro Cuban refugees on the other hand can eat shit.

        Your trolling abilities are pitiful. Can someone remind me, is the one Mary or Tulpa?

  15. Instead of listening to Ted Cruz, how about listening to this guy.

    An Afro-Cuban dissident who spent time in Fidel Castro’s gulags, Oscar Biscet is one of many people that represent the real Cuba, the people who will be hidden from sight as President Obama visits this week. While the president basks in the Cuban sun and in photo-ops with its heavy-handed dictator, the fate and freedom of political resisters like Biscet remains grim. Biscet is free now in technical terms, but in reality, he remains among a cohort of dissenters who still live in an invisible prison: a society still very much under the thumb of a totalitarian regime. And this week, Obama will provide that very regime with dangerously unwarranted legitimacy in the form of a diplomatic visit.

    1. Antagonizing believers is a particular specialty of the Castro regime. To them, faith is especially dangerous, because it kindles the conscience and keeps it burning when enemies advance. “?Viva Cristo Rey!” were the last words of so many of my friends who were dragged to the shooting wall. Eventually, the government realized this was a battle cry for freedom, one that came from the deepest part of the men they were killing, and one that was only inspiring more men to die faithful to their consciences and to something greater than Fidel Castro. Their executioners realized that an expression of faith was more powerful than the explosion of a gun. So eventually, they gagged them.

      The same men who did this are still in power today. In agreeing to meet with Raul Castro, Obama rewards a regime that rules with brutal force and systemically violates human rights. He shrugs his shoulders at the little man. He shows a callous disregard for the human conscience, the single greatest threat to any ruler.

      reason won’t take the WAPO link to this oped.

      1. Wait, Cuba imprisons political dissenters and violates the human rights of its people?! I had no idea. Thanks for blowing the lid off of that, John. Maybe a few more generations of sanctions and diplomatic isolation will force them to change their ways.

        1. So that means it is okay to give them your endorsement? Since they are never going to change anyway, maybe we should just start sending them aid. That would help the people of Cuba too wouldn’t it?

          It doesn’t surprise me a bit that you would roll out some snark and spit on this guy. All he did is stand up for his conscience and do something you should thank God every day you will never have to do. Where does he get off lecturing someone like you. He is just an uppity Latin I guess.

          1. Who’s endorsing? Everyone here knows that if the potus had an (R) after his name, you would be talking about this as the diplomatic triumph of the century.

            1. “””diplomatic triumph of the century.””

              Whose, Castro?

              1. Does Obama get another Peace Prize!!!!!!!!

            2. Who’s endorsing?

              Obama is. And you are okay with that.

              1. Does visiting a country mean you automatically endorse its governing regime?

                1. Allowing your visit to be highjacked as a PR stunt to support the totalitarians is, I think, an endorsement.

                  1. “Allowing your visit to be highjacked as a PR stunt to support the totalitarians is, I think, an endorsement.”

                    Uh, how was it “highjacked”?

                    1. He agreed to the scheduling and events. Its a big pro-Castro party, and he’s the pinata.

                  2. Allowing your visit to be highjacked as a PR stunt to support the totalitarians is, I think, an endorsement.

                    If it leads to trade, it will be well worth the utter humiliation we’ll all feel by being “bested” by a two bit dictator.

                    Perhaps you could put your tape measure (or was it a micrometer) away for a moment and look to the long-term outcome.

                    1. I don’t think anyone knows the long-term outcome. It could entrench the regime long-term, it could undermine it.

                      The short to mid term outcome is more money for apparats, and little if any benefit for the Cuban people. To the extent this feeds inflation, it will be bad for them.

                    2. FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST, MAN! LOOK AT CHINA!

                      When cultures engage trade they become accustom to having shit. Communism cannot provide shit. Only Capitalism can. When you interact with and see the shit that “free” nations have, you want the shit that they have. They MUST move towards capitalism to get that shit.

                      The ancillary benefit is that the trading nations become dependent upon each other and you don’t go to war with people you depend upon.

                      Finally, IF I’m completely full of shit and you’re correct (below), and the “apparatchiks” stop the people from benefiting, the situation in Cuba is NO WORSE than it is currently AND we (the US) has benefited from trade with the commies.

                      You ask me:

                      Please explain to me why my moral objection to engaging in trade that will enrich apparatchiks is wrong.

                      Because you are advocating taking a best case scenario (we trade and Cuba gets freer) or a middle case scenario (we trade and Cuba stays the same) and flushing it down the shitter for the completely abysmal scenario of the status quo (we don’t trade and the situation in Cuba remains the same).

                      54 fucking years. Ya think it’s fucking working? You think we’re on the right track? You think not trading with Commies is helping the Cuban people?

                      Think, man!

                    3. China got rid of its experimental multi-candidate village level elections.

                      Apparently free trade doesn’t guarantee political freedom to march in one direction.

                    4. Let 0blama and the proggies abandon 50, odd, years of the failure of the welfare state, that costs Americans trillions, before he tries to “correct” 54 fucking years of what is a principled stand against oppression.
                      And for what? The off chance that a few Americans, who will trade with Castroville, might benefit.
                      What, exactly does Cuba have to offer in trade, anyway?
                      Or is this all about getting those Cuban H.Upmanns, Partagas and Romeo y Juliettas?
                      If you can’t stand on your principles, you have none.

                2. If it’s a diplomatic visit with a purpose no; if it’s a diplomatic visit without a stated purpose yes.

                  At least that’s my opinion. So far I haven’t seen a ‘reason’ for his visit.

                  1. To signify normalization of US-Cuba relations. To attempt to accelerate reforms in Cuba and the lifting of the trade embargo in the US. To solidify the Obama policy on Cuba and make it politically irreversible in the future.

                    1. To signify normalization of US-Cuba relations. To attempt to accelerate reforms in Cuba and the lifting of the trade embargo in the US. To solidify the Obama policy on Cuba and make it politically irreversible in the future.

                      You missed the real reason. “So Obama and clan could get a luxury vacation paid for by the US taxpayers.”

                    2. Pretty sure they can do that whenever they want without affecting decades-old international relations.

                    3. Pretty sure they can do that whenever they want without affecting decades-old international relations.

                      Not if they want to visit Cuba. That’s a bucket list checkoff for retarded leftists.

                    4. That’s true.

                      I had one girl who wanted to go live there.

                      Dummy.

                    5. “I had one girl who wanted to go live there.

                      Dummy”

                      Everyone knows Haiti is the correct choice.

                    6. To signify normalization of US-Cuba relations.

                      A Rose Garden press conference wold do that.

                      To attempt to accelerate reforms in Cuba and the lifting of the trade embargo in the US.

                      Oh yeah, Obama is going to Cuba for this celebration in order to undermine the Castro regime. Sure.

                      To solidify the Obama policy on Cuba and make it politically irreversible in the future.

                      Still don’t see how a presser doesn’t do as much, and with less controversy and blowback domestically.

                      This isn’t Nixon going to China, which was a President visiting a regime he was ideologically opposed to. The benefits of that trip aren’t going to materialize here.

                    7. Almost everything about the 0blama reign and the demoncrap hegemon has been about making “irreversible” moves.
                      Kind of betraying their claimed moniker, isn’t it?
                      “We are proggies:
                      Our ideas are so great that we have to force people to follow them and make sure they are entrenched and unable to be reversed.”
                      Do you people, even, listen to yourselves?

                3. Does visiting a country mean you automatically endorse its governing regime?

                  Maybe, maybe not. But this was the fundamental argument of the Divestment movement guys that was made against South Africa, was it not?

                  Lefties are always right in the forefront of advocating total boycotts against regimes you don’t like. Guys like you on college campuses across America have been pushing to boycott and isolate Israel for years now. But you’re a Fidel Castro butt-boy.

                  1. Many of the same people who are cheering this DD, are out campaigning for divestment from Israel.

                  2. Well those lefties are idiots. Almost as much as Republicans who boycotted France for not going along with their phony war.

                  3. Israel and white-ruled South Africa were susceptible to these kinds of pressures. They keenly want to be seen as partners to Western countries and will make efforts to comply with Western demands. Almost 60 years of sanctions against Cuba should be enough to convince anyone that sanctions don’t always work, especially directed against a revolutionary communist regime.

                  4. South Africa was, and Israel is, an ally…
                    Get it?

          2. Pay closer attention to which comments you hit the ‘reply to this’ link for John. Whoever you’re responding to seems to have dismissed the suffering of a Cuban political prisoner and argued in favor of endorsing or even aiding the Castro regime.

            1. That is absolutely what you did. You just are dishonest to admit it. First, you pull some sarcastic statement about how “we didn’t know they were oppressive”. The whole point of that sentence is to dismiss this guy’s opinion. Then you say “it is not like what we were doing is helpful” as if that answers this guys’ point about how the government uses these things to demoralize and oppress dissenters.

              The post explains why the visit is bad for the Cuban people. And you just dismiss it with snark. If you don’t like me pointing that out, tough shit.

            2. How can you know?
              Unless you have some kind of “indent” ruler – and even that only goes so far – the cheapskate REASON comment page doesn’t let you know, definitively, who a response is aimed at.
              All the comments might as well be considered independent.
              I guess that’s how REASON wants it, since there seems to be no effort to change.

  16. almost every other policy change President Obama has made?and wisely so?has involved lifting restrictions on Americans

    Why should that interest any of us, Matt?

    1. almost every other policy change President Obama has made?and wisely so?has involved lifting restrictions on Americans

      I can’t argue that lifting the embargo is lifting restrictions on Americans.

      I can argue that it needn’t be done by giving a sloppy wet kiss to a horrible dictatorship, and I can argue that I retain moral grounds for declining to visit Cuba myself.

      1. I can argue that it needn’t be done by giving a sloppy wet kiss to a horrible dictatorship

        Exactly.

        I support lifting the cuban embargo. I support normalizing relations. I don’t support the US president going over there to do a “look at my legacy” victory dance while people languish in their prisons for speaking out against Castro.

        1. That’s why he should mention it but he won’t.

          We’ll probably see shots of him and Michelle holding hands by the Cuban sunset showing the world how beautiful Cuba and its people are…as people languish in jail.

        2. He literally tweeted out his arrival, but Twitter is banned there, of course.

          So that was really for the domestic American audience.

      2. Well, speak for yourself. I would like to see Obama give Raul a sloppy wet kiss.

  17. So there are 2 things we know for certain for now about this story.

    1. Obama is going to Cuba.

    2. Shortly afterwards Obama will appear on TV and say some incredibly creepy and astonishingly idiotic things.

    1. I think your 2) is completely independent of 1.

  18. This could be good news, maybe Obama is in Cuba to arrange for Hillary getting Cuban sanctuary.

  19. Short of forcefully incorporating Cuba into the U.S. as the 51st state, only the Cuban people can oust the Castro regime and liberalize the country.

    1. It worked for Vermont!

  20. Is there any explanation as to how this “legitimacy” dynamic works? I admit that I cannot understand people who tolerate communist dictatorships and view such a regime ruling over them as legitimate and proper, but I’d like to see some cause-and-effect explanation. Are there Cubans on the margin who waver between hating the Castros and tolerating them and who will now say, “Oh, the American president was here, I guess Castro really IS our rightful ruler!”? In whose eyes is the Castro regime now being legitimized? Are there practical effects of this legitimization?

    1. Is there any explanation as to how this “legitimacy” dynamic works?

      Legitimate institutions lend the imprimatur of legitimacy to other institutions they deal with. An institution that has no ties to other institutions perceived as legitimate is itself perceived as less legitimate due to that.

      It’s just how the Westphalian order propagates itself. None of it is “real” beyond the sociology.

      1. Right, but in this particular case, in whose eyes is the regime only now becoming legitimized? Cuba has normal relations with everyone else, is in the UN, etc.

        Whatever, I’m over it!

        1. Well, duh, but you already knew that Hit’n’Runpublicans were retarded, didn’t you?

    2. I recall Lech Walesa saying that having the overt support of the West was important to the Solidarity Movement.

      And we saw the Green Revolution in Iran die under a hail of sniper fire while the West looked the other way.

      Its probably a marginal effect, but still, doing the right thing should be self-justifying, should it not?

      1. Lech Walesa told him that “you have a museum of socialism just off the coast of Florida, yet you don’t let your people visit it.”

        Obama just wants to see how bad socialism is in reality. I’m sure the state dinners, freshly scrubbed streets in Old Havana, and scripted ‘extemporaneous’ meetings with ‘real people’ will show him.

    3. Are there practical effects of this legitimization?

      well, it will help allow cronies of the current regime to become wealth(ier) in a more-open way

    4. some U.S. companies, such as the apartment-sharing service Airbnb, are now operating on the island; many more are looking for opportunities or are in talks with Cuban officials. Recently, Washington and Havana signed a landmark commercial aviation deal to secure regular direct flights between the two countries. Already, U.S. airlines are jockeying to snatch one of the 30 daily routes to the island, as ferry services and cruise lines wait in the wings….Initial rule changes in early 2015 authorized select types of exports, such as construction materials, telecommunications devices, and agricultural equipment, to end users in Cuba’s incipient private sector. … U.S. banks, for example, can now process Cuban government transactions, and there is now wide latitude for exporting products to state enterprises that “meet the needs of the Cuban people.” … [however] ….Demand from restaurateurs has substantially raised food costs for the average citizen. According to the latest available Cuban government statistics, the price of food consumed by the average Cuban family increased 24 percent in 2014. The figure is no doubt higher for last year. For Cubans earning meager state wages in devaluated pesos without a foot in the hard-currency economy in which Cuban tourism moves, mounting expenses risk putting some goods out of reach.

  21. As for “appeasement,” just because Republican politicians have serially debased this Neville Chamberlain-echoing word beyond all human recognition doesn’t makes its deployment here any less egregious.

    That hasn’t fazed the collectivists in their thinking that “we” came out of this deal short. Because that is how they portray this issue, as something “we” negotiated: what did “we” get out of this, they ask (and ask they did, this morning on Fox And Friends..) They never bother to explain who are these people they include under the pronoun “we.” What arrogance.

    1. How much more could “we” have gotten exactly? A promise from Raul Castro to topple his own government? Even assuming that was a legitimate negotiating position of the United States, Cuba’s government collapsing (especially a quick one) would lead to complete anarchy for years, if not decades; it is not in anybody’s interest for there to be anarchy 90 miles from US’s shores.

  22. Obama just wants to see the REAL Cuba. Before capitalism ruins it.

  23. I have to disagree with you here Mr. Welch. You make an excellent case for ending the embargo. And on that, I agree with you. What you don’t address is the appropriateness of a state visit by the US to the Castro regime. It strikes me that a state visit without the justification of necessity (the Soviet Union) or a longstanding alliance (Saudi Arabia) does confer some level of legitimacy to the totalitarian government. Moreover, government-led international exchange is hardly the recipe for reducing the leverage the totalitarian government has over its population. You can oppose both restrictions on U.S. trade with a communist dictatorship and still not provide your support to their leadership.

    1. Too nuanced. You don’t get the top shelf cocktail party invites with nuance, Bill. 😉

    2. Couldn’t Obama have ended the embargo and then given a speech saying “I am doing this for the benefit of Americans who wish to buy Cuban goods and I will never visit or in anyway grant legitimacy to the oppressive and horrible Cuban government”? Wouldn’t that have answered all of Matt’s concerns?

      1. Yes, he could have. I really don’t think this can be spun as anything other than an act of support for the Castro regime. There really wasn’t much of any pressing diplomatic need for the President to visit Cuba and it’s pretty obvious that, barring a full-throated denunciation of the regime by Obama, it will be spun for their propaganda purposes. Moreover, the I find it hard to imagine that government-led economic engagement with Cuba is going to result in the sort of rise of an independent middle class that Welch is talking about.

      2. Obama never does anything for the benefit of Americans” freedom.

        Up thread someone asked in whose people’s eyes this visit would be legitimizing authoritarian rule and oppression. That’s easy – the American people’s eyes, that’s whose. After Tricky Dick Nixon’s diplomatic recognition of China how often did we hear anything more about the Chicom butchers over there and how morally evil they are?

        As a matter of fact, how often do we hear anything concerning the immorality of Communism? All we hear is that communist systems have failed because they can’t produce goods and services or even feed their citizens. Well no shit, Sherlock – even their leaders knew that much. Communism didn’t fail in what its real intended purpose was all along – which was to gain power over the lives and produce of the poor bastards who live under it, and to enable some to live luxuriously at the expense of others.

    3. This is what I think the U.S. should do: unilaterally remove all trade and access restrictions to Cuba. Either it will eventually liberate Cuba or it won’t. If the former, great. If the latter, then at least our own government isn’t harming our right to trade with whom we please and travel where we want; from there it would be up to the Cuban people to change their own government.

      1. This is what I think the U.S. should do: unilaterally remove all trade and access restrictions to Cuba

        They could.

        It doesn’t mean the cuban government will allow cuban people to freely trade dollars, or sell their goods abroad rather than to the state.

        As noted above, if American businesses want to do business in Cuba, they currently do so *through the state*, not directly with the people.

        1. I realize that, which is why change ultimately must come from Cubans.

          1. Just don’t pretend you’re enriching the cuban state on the “people’s” behalf.

  24. Hypothetically maybe another president who isn’t a far left d’bag who loathes the free market could make the trip without appeasement. But I’m not sure what that has to do with Obama

  25. This hand-wringing over the United States “giving up more” than Cuba is retarded. The United States is immensely more powerful than Cuba; besides agreeing to collapse its own government, Cuba could never give the United States “more” than what the United States could give it.

    There will invariably be more money flowing to Cuba from Americans because Americans are relatively much wealthier than Cubans and the Cuban economy is stuck in the 1970s or 1980s.

    1. That is true Joe. And the Cuban government will take that money and use it to fund its totalitarian state. The underlying assumption behind the idea that trade will make Cuba free is that the trade will benefit the people and not the government. And that is incredibly naive.

      I understand the argument for ending the embargo as a restraint on American freedom. That is a sensible argument even if you don’t agree with it. What is not sensible is the fantasies about how trade is going to do anything but make the Cuban government richer and tighten its grip on the Island.

      1. I do not personally think Cuba’s government will go away anytime soon. There will be an economic boom with America’s money flowing in for many many years and Cubans will likely not care much about political reforms as long as there is more food on their tables and more work to be found (which is a completely rational decision, IMO).

        Whether the government has staying power, who knows? All governments disappear eventually, even ones that look facially extremely stable. The Castro brothers have been extremely capable at staying in power despite various crises that have struck their island; who knows whether their successors will be as capable when faced with a crisis.

        1. Cubans will likely not care much about political reforms as long as there is more food on their tables

          As noted above = that isn’t how things are working out. By liberalizing *only* tourism, while still restricting the ability of cubans to trade in $USD, prices of things like food are rising very fast while average cubans incomes are basically flat because they are paid by the state in their worthless script

          “”Cuba is backtracking on some key agricultural reforms and experimenting with restoring price controls in the face of public demands that the government tame rising food costs.

          Prices are up because of limited production, poor weather and greater demand fueled in part by the market-oriented reforms championed by President Raul Castro.

          Those reforms, which the government says will modernize its socialist economic model, have led to growing numbers of wealthier Cubans even as most workers have seen food prices grow far faster than their state salaries.

          Aware of public sentiment and eager to contain inequalities, the government is now buying, distributing and selling more food at fixed prices.

          It has ordered privately owned trucks to unload at wholesale markets instead of retail outlets, and some private street vendors have apparently been shut down to push more produce through controlled markets.”

    2. Well, Americans prefer whatever they get out of Cuba to the dollars they pay Cuba, so overall wealth increases for both parties, even if more money flows to Cuba.

    3. Yeah, but Cuba has the best health care in the world and a cure for cancer. Maybe we will get more out of the deal.

      /derp

    4. Cuba could never give the United States “more” than what the United States could give it.

      There will invariably be more money flowing to Cuba from Americans because Americans are relatively much wealthier than Cubans and the Cuban economy is stuck in the 1970s or 1980s.

      Wealth is not money.

      You sound as though Americans get nothing in return for the money they spend in Cuba.

      1. You sound as though Americans get nothing in return for the money they spend in Cuba.

        True, I guess there is always the clap.

  26. Who cares if Obama visits Cuba. I think everyone should be able to go. Why not? Do we have laws against visiting China, the biggest commie regime around? Obama’s just as much commie as Castro is anyway and he got elected president.

    1. Which is why the US should have no diplomatic relations with any communist regime or one which stole the property of our citizens.

      1. one which stole the property of our citizens

        So no diplomatic relations with the USA!! Close the embassy. Bring all those diplomats home.

        Oh wait….

  27. It really makes no difference which one of these clowns gets elected, the deep state will carry on exactly as before.

    Dream On?:

    “…In your dream, Obama is not a fraud,
    In your dream, Reagan was not a fraud,
    In your dream, all the rest were not frauds,

    In your dream, the constitution was not a scam,
    In your dream, the Supreme court is not a scam,
    In your dream, 9/11 was not a scam”
    In your dreams, the war on terror is not a scam,
    In your dream, al -qaeda was not a scam,
    In your dream I.S.I.S. is not a scam”

    Lyrics excerpted from “Dreams [Anarchist Blues]”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMXtoUtXrTU

    Regards, onebornfree

    1. YARR CROSS THE BAY BE LA HABANA DRINK UP ME HEARTIES YOHO

    2. Your second-last word contained a typo.
      The “g” should have been a “t”.

  28. I am not of Cuban descent though through my father I am descended from Ukrainian victims of communism. Not that that should matter to people supposedly in favor of human rights and liberty. It is very disturbing to see Reason become a spokesman for engaging in normal intercourse with a bolshevik regime which oppresses its people and stole millions of dollars of American property. Is this is what being a libertarian is about – making excuses for the Castros and justifying their nullification of personal and property rights? Way to give the Sanction Of The Victim, there. Your drumbeat in favor of treating this regime as anything other than scum and criminals makes me reassess whether I want to remain a Reason contributor.

    1. Something more like “Lifting the embargo increases the freedom of Americans, so we support it, but lets not overlook that its really freeing up Americans to enrich a brutal totalitarian regime, not the people of Cuba.”

      1. Something more like “Lifting the embargo increases the freedom of Americans, so we support it, but lets not overlook that its really freeing up Americans to enrich a brutal totalitarian regime, not the people of Cuba.”

        Yeah, because the “regime” will buy new American cars (with air conditioning and power steering) and 60″ flat screens and microwave ovens and computers (you can hook to the internet) and the “regime” will keep them for itself. The Cuban people won’t become wealthier because the “regime” will “take” all of the traded goods and not let the Cuban people play with them.

        Ya know, RC, I hope you’re a good lawyer, because you don’t know the first fucking thing about economics.

        1. Yeah, because the “regime” will buy new American cars (with air conditioning and power steering) and 60″ flat screens and microwave ovens and computers (you can hook to the internet) and the “regime” will keep them for itself.

          Pretty much, yeah. That’s what being an apparatchik in a totalitarian “Communist” regime means.

          The Cuban people won’t become wealthier because the “regime” will “take” all of the traded goods and not let the Cuban people play with them.

          Yup. Any non-apparatchik benefits will be very thin on the ground, I think. Let’s not forget: Cuba has had open tourism with the rest of the planet pretty much all along. That’s where they developed their system of having apparatchiks skim off any economic benefit above and beyond the state-mandated allowance to workers.

          Please explain to me why my moral objection to engaging in trade that will enrich apparatchiks is wrong. Because under the current system, I just don’t see any but the most incidental benefits going to non-apparatchiks. And those are vastly disproportionate to what the apparat seizes.

        2. This is what tends to happen in most communist countries. It takes a huge effort and much lost revenue to swamp their markets to the point that things start to slip out into the general populace–and by that time the rising kleptocracy is firmly ensconced.

          It’s like you know this is gonna happen but think if you really wish it wouldn’t, that’ll take care of it.

          1. “If the right people do it, it will work this time.”

            The mantra of the brain-dead socialist.

        3. Yeah, because the “regime” will buy new American cars (with air conditioning and power steering) and 60″ flat screens and microwave ovens and computers (you can hook to the internet) and the “regime” will keep them for itself.

          Jesus fucking Christ you are stupid.

          Yeah, American cars and TVs are going to flood into Cuba… through the government controlled ports, into the state-owned shops, where the Cuban people can only use their company-store CUP to purchase them.

          Seriously, at least peruse wikipedia before you stick your foot directly into your mouth. It’s embarrassing. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about because you clearly don’t know how trade and currency exchange in Cuba. That’s no crime, but your ignorance is not a substitute for an argument.

            1. Good argument. I now see that, exactly as you said, a torrent of American goods and services will flood into Cuba and enrich the Cuban people. Just like the torrent of European, African, Asian and South American goods and services have for the last half century. Because all trade is peer-to-peer, just like in simplified entry level economic textbooks. You’re totally not a retarded cunt who has no clue what he’s talking about. I apologize profusely.

      2. Next we should get a law passed allowing Americans to buy and keep stolen property – in the interest of economic freedom etc. Fuck the poor slobs it was stolen from – in the interest of economic freedom etc.

    2. At least you can rest assured you would never be seeing this piece or anything close to it here if Che Guevara and his disciples had been right-wing fascist white nationalist types instead of anti-American commies.

      It’s at the point now where it has become almost impossible to distinguish Reason from the rest of the “mainstream” media.

      1. No cute nickname for che?

        I am disappoint.

        1. Gay Guevara, amirite?

      2. Please explain what a “right-wing fascist” is.

        Fascism is national socialism. It is the same as socialism except that private property is allowed yet tightly controlled by government and it is nationalistic rather than class oriented.

        1. That’s the “old” definition.
          Now “fascist” = anything not-proggie, despite the fact that the progs work assiduously towards, and would love to see implemented, what the “old ” definition was, under their control.

    3. l.j.b have you ever visited a communist country – ie Ukraine or whatever?

      I have – E Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary – in the 1980’s. You learn a lot. The food is crap. The cars are crap. The hotels are crap. The regular people are nice.

      Was I some kind of traitor for spending a few dollars there?

      1. Were you limited to spending your money in state-sponsored businesses that skimmed off all but an allowance for the actual workers? Maybe that’s the way Eastern Europe ran in the ’80s; I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

      2. Yes.

        A minor, minor one, but yes, absolutely. Your pathetic few dollars went towards propping up the parasite state for a few seconds more.

  29. Castro rounded up the “undesirables” for Obama’s trip. So there is that.

    1. He sent his most hardened criminals here a few years. We are just returning the favor!!

      1. Do we have to let Obama the son of a bitch back into this country?

  30. If I hand a Cuban friend $100 in Havana, that Cuban now has $100 (which is four or five times the average monthly salary).

    And you have also set your friend up for a visit from the police. Your friend will get ratted out by the neighborhood Stasi, and the cops will likely show up to, at a minimum, question your friend. And, while they are there, I would expect them to “seize” the cash.

    1. Don’t know about Cuba, but I gave cash to several people in Prague back in the 80’s, and sent them more cash every year (carefully secreted in Christmas cards). They didn’t get into any trouble and REALLY, REALLY appreciated it. There were things you could only buy with dollars, including butter, sugar, and such. I made friends for life and did a little bit to show them what America is all about. Eventually they threw off the Commies. Cuba will, too….someday.

    2. Importantly, the 100 USD is worthless to Matt’s hypothetical Cuban friend anyway, since you can only spend CUP (the currency that regular Cubans get to use; 24:1 exchange rate to CUC) or CUC (convertible pesos that tourists exchange for their home currency) on the island. There’s the black market, of course, but because of the travel ban and embargo, it’s my understanding that USD is not a widely sought after currency in the underground economy of Cuba either. Matt’s Cuban friend could, of course, exchange his USD for CUC at one of the many conveniently located and state-monopolized currency exchanges. Then the regime gets the 100 dollar bill, on top of a healthy skim on the exchange, and the Cuban gets tourist currency he can pretty much only spend in the resort areas (most staple goods and things sold in state stores are priced in CUP, since that’s the currency in which the state pays its workers).

      Because of Cuba’s company store model, it is literally impossible to trade with the Cuban people without enriching the regime. Anyone pretending otherwise is either ignorant or a liar. Now, it’s not necessarily the US government’s place to stop you from enriching a murderous communist regime through trade (in point of fact, we offer favored trade status to regimes far worse than Castro’s), just don’t pretend like that isn’t what’s happening.

      1. (in point of fact, we offer favored trade status to regimes far worse than Castro’s),

        We sure do. Communist China comes immediately to mind. But of course, that is more for our benefit and the benefit of our ruling elite, because we need those cheap consumer goods to keep our own economy from collapsing sooner than it otherwise would from the inflationary monetary policies our own government and banking system have inflicted on us for so many years. As long as the peasants are kept happy with their trinkets and other toys there will be no torches and pitchforks – in either China or this country.

  31. So what exactly has Cuba ever done to the US? Bay of Pigs doesn’t count. That’s something they almost did. All I hear is crickets. Wait, you mean we’ve been making the Cuban people suffer for decades for no reason whatsoever? Meanwhile not a single politician or other wealthy person has been without their fine Cuban cigars? Oh yeah, laws are for the little people.

    1. The chief cause of Cubans’ suffering is the Castro regime, not the U.S. embargo. Remember, the rest of the world trades with Cuba. But lifting the embargo is nonetheless a good thing for Americans and at worst neutral for Cubans.

    2. Cuba and the U.S. used to do a ton of business. When Castro nationalized everything, he stole $billions worth of property from American companies and individuals. For decades, paying the owners for their stolen property was the price we were requiring Cuba to pay for open trade.

      1. For decades, paying the owners for their stolen property was the price we were requiring Cuba to pay for open trade.

        It used to be that way for the Islamic Republic of Iran too after 1979. Maybe the Castros need to start and then pinky-swear agree to give up on, a nuclear weapons development program?

        Getting rid of the embargo’s one thing. It’s not going to have that much of an effect, given the UK, EU, and pretty much everyone else has been able to trade with Castro. Any increase in consumer goods is going to be monopolized by the Party elite, if the 70s nomenklatura era in the Soviet Union is any guide. Brezhnev’s properties were filled with Western luxury goods, and the Ivan on the street didn’t see shit. It did liberalize much later, after Afghanistan and trying to keep up with Star Wars/Pershing/stealth, but increased sales of Western goods did little to improve the plight of the locals. If Cuba’s ruinous, AIDS-importing war with Angola didn’t help liberalize their country, I’m not seeing how the rest of the Soviet downfall blueprint is going to apply.

        There’s utterly no reason though, to have this kind of publicity tour/free tropical vacation/yet another rubber stamp in the “First!”s section of Obama’s biography. I’m torn whether I think Obama will even try a “Mr. Castro: Tear down this Wall!” speech, or just laud him for universal healthcare and literacy. Probably the latter.

        1. Any increase in consumer goods is going to be monopolized by the Party elite, if the 70s nomenklatura era in the Soviet Union is any guide.

          This is the point that some people are refusing to grasp.

          For me, its a moral decision, not a legal one. I choose not to spend my money enriching apparats, whenever I can. You can choose otherwise, but don’t do so under the delusion that you are helping the Cuban people in any material way.

        2. Well, no “tear down this wall” moment.

          More of a, “we must import this glorious dictatorship to America!” moment.

          1. More of a, “See, they’re not so bad. They’re just like us and really care about their people – they just have a different kind of system than we do.”

    3. Hmmm…maybe turning to the Soviets right after they completed a revolution, that was supposed to be for freedom of the Cuban people, or maybe letting Khrushchev put nuclear missiles, ninety miles off our shore, was something that Americans resent, or having a regime that punishes what we consider natural rights, or maybe emptying their prisons and sending all the criminals, here, when our second-worse president made it easier to be granted asylum, or that they have consistently voted in our opposition at the U.N.
      Yeah, the Cubans have done nothing to US.

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  34. Why not wait until the trip is concluded before we declare it a success or a failure, realpolitik or appeasement? All sides, the Libertarian side included, are jumping the gun here. Just step back and take a deep breath folks.

  35. I share Ted Cruz’s concern about the appalling state of freedom in Castro’s open-air prison, and I sincerely hope President Obama takes the opportunity of his big Havana speech to acknowledge Cuban political prisoners by name.

    So no?

    1. Its an astonishingly naive statement, since the Obama administration has given no reason whatsoever to believe that Obama will give a “tear down this wall” speech.

      1. the Obama administration has given no reason whatsoever to believe that Obama will give a “tear down this wall” speech.

        Maybe a “fill in this ocean” speech?

      2. “since the Obama administration has given no reason whatsoever to believe that Obama will give a “tear down this wall” speech”

        Still, I’d expect a “tear down this wall” speech before a “close down GITMO” speech.

    2. Ha! Instead we get Obama in front of Che with a giant shit-eating grin. What a fucking clown.

      1. His nickname, Obozo, is for a reason.

  36. China’s current state owes more to Deng than to Nixon’s visit by the way…

  37. And FDR recognized Stalin, traded with the Soviets and visited the USSR and these acts definitely strengthened the USSR so I don’t think that trade and diplomatic recognition is some sort of panacea.

  38. Comparing these Cuba articles to the Dalmia’s Modi articles are pretty hilarious:

    https://reason.com/archives/201…..g-a-libert

    President Obama, who has emboldened Modi’s bad behavior by his unabashed feting of him

    https://reason.com/blog/2015/10…..-for-asylu
    But if Modi thinks he can get away by giving Hindu zealots free rein to persecute and kill others in the name of his religion, it is because he thinks folks like Zuckerberg have his back. These CEOs engage in selective diplomacy, naively lapping up Modi’s happy talk about “inclusive development,” allowing Modi to bury the rest of his odious agenda in international glory.

    1. Well caught, Winston.

  39. “[I]t is so sad, and so injurious to our future as well as Cuba’s, that Obama has chosen to legitimize the corrupt and oppressive Castro regime with his presence on the island.”

    It’s truly more sad that politicians lambaste each other for ‘[legitimizing] corrupt regimes’ by merely being present in the country of that regime, meanwhile ignoring the fact that almost ALL of the politicians actually do legitimize corrupt regimes like the Saudis.

    1. …by merely being present in the country of that regime…

      Sorry, but Obama is not “merely being present.” This is a state visit that legitimizes the ruling regime.

      What Barack Obama should have done is to normalize relations and stop at that. The state visit goes too far and sets him up as an appeaser of everything Castro which will haunt his legacy when the Castro’s government inevitably stomps down on the coming liberty movement that will be encouraged by this visit.

      What will ex-president Obama say when a Tiananmen Square/Green Party movement gets violently crushed by the Raul Castro regime? How will it affect his legacy?

      This is not a mere visit.

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  41. “Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? ”

    Yes.

    Stop trying to claim that it doesn’t.

  42. I get author’s point, the double standard no-no. But in legal terms it’s often the motive that’s most important. Does anyone believe that Obama won’t be supporting the communist state and its ideology? I don’t think that Bush Sr or Reagan supported communism when they visited eastern europe.

  43. I don’t think its a big deal the Obama went to Cuba – its just his swan song.

    But trying to spin this as good for the Cuban people?

    We trade with China and last I saw China canceled its experiments with village level multi-candidate elections and is still censorious.

    1. Trade with China is for the benefit of providing our peasants with cheap consumer goods which they could not otherwise afford to buy if they were still made in this country.

  44. In today’s US political climate, is it not more likely that Americans on visits to Cuba will come back with an ever more favorable view of socialism than Cubans will have have of capitalism and democracy.

    Because Nothing Matters and everything is going to Hell.

  45. Matt: Big difference between pro-American presidents and an anti-American president visiting a foreign country. The formers visit, in part, with hopes of encouraging democracies and pro-capitalism. A latter visit encourages continuation of the as is: the police state, government controlled business and vastly rich leaders.

  46. Indeed, no appeasement, as Cuba isn’t a threat to anyone except Cubans at this point. But only Obama and Carter would fellate the Castros shortly after the send another bunch of dissidents to prison. How’s that reset with Russia going btw?

  47. “Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? Then George W. Bush conferred legitimacy on Saudi Arabia, his dad did likewise to the Soviet Union (as did Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon), and of course that Nixon fellow famously propped up Red China.”

    What a load of bullshit.

  48. “Do official presidential visits give legitimacy to oppressive regimes? Then George W. Bush conferred legitimacy on Saudi Arabia, his dad did likewise to the Soviet Union (as did Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon), and of course that Nixon fellow famously propped up Red China.”

    What a load of bullshit.

  49. Cuba has been trading with every country except the US.

    Explain why it isn’t a libertarian paradise.

    Because people can’t be free without US trade?

  50. Idiot; you CANNOT pay any Cuban citizen any US dollars,you have to exchange that at state agencies,and pay in Cuban money,and they take their SIZEABLE cut. The Cuban citizen ends up getting pennies on the dollar.

  51. Good for Matt for calling demagoguery by its name.

    I am open to any suggestion on what we should do about Cuba except one: the suggestion that we should go on doing what we have been doing for the last half-century. It hasn’t worked. It hasn’t brought down, or even weakened, the oppressive Cuban government. It hasn’t brought any benefit to any of the Cuban people. It’s time to try something else.

    1. Except for the part where this article is pure, demagoguing bullshit.

    2. It hasn’t worked. It hasn’t brought down, or even weakened, the oppressive Cuban government. It hasn’t brought any benefit to any of the Cuban people

      And why, exactly, is that supposed to be our problem? The Cuban people evidently are satisfied with what they live under, else they’d do something about it. Wouldn’t they?

  52. Obama is currently on CNN praising the totalitarianism of the Castro dictatorship, and insinuating that exiles who flee Castro oppression by floating on homemade rafts for miles across shark infested waters are cowards for not “working with the revolution”.

    So, yeah, pure appeasement.

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  54. ” As I attempted to explain in December 2014, back when it was Rubio banging the “appeasement” drum,

    If I hand a Cuban friend $100 in Havana, that Cuban now has $100 (which is four or five times the average monthly salary).Now, that friend may pay consumption taxes on things he buys with that $100 at a state-owned store, or pay taxes on the interest he earns by depositing the sum, but the bulk of the transaction goes to the individual Cuban, on terms that the Cuban governmet cannot “control.” ”

    Then I am afraid you are not well-informed about Cuba. $100 is five times the Cuban maximum salary, so I am sure it is more than five times the average. Cuba does indeed control this by confiscation, and the bulk of the transaction does not go to the individual Cuban but to the Cuban Government. Indeed if he or she already earns $20 a month then none of it will go to the individual and all of it to the Castro regime.

  55. It was not appeasement. Obama supports communist/socialist and dictatorial countries in his quest to ‘transform’ (read destroy) America.

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  57. Obama’s trip to Cuba is not appeasement. It is support of the Communist Dictatorship run by very, very rich people.

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  59. RE: No, Ted Cruz, Obama’s Cuba Trip Is Not ‘Appeasement’

    Hey, there’s nothing wrong with appeasement.
    Just ask Neville Chamberlin.

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