According to reports, President Trump is considering reversing President Obama’s actions toward Cuba.
For decades, America’s attempts to isolate Cuba never produced the desired outcome. We wanted regime change. We wanted to punish dictators who worked with our enemies to threaten us. We wanted our protectionist policies to hurt the Cuban economy so badly that the Castros would crumble.
That never happened. The Castros just passed the punishment onto the Cuban people, causing immeasurable poverty.
Now, one Castro is dead. The other is 85-years old. Miguel Diaz-Canel is next in line for the presidency and is much more moderate than the Castros on free markets, the internet, and media. Yes, he’s still a communist, but he seems more responsive to what the people want — and people want access to the internet and quality of life enjoyed by their neighbors to the north.
Freer trade with Cuba will only help the Cuban people, allowing for their economy to develop. A developed economy means a populace that has more means to stand up for itself against bad leaders. Holding Cuba back economically hurts the Cuban people, while the dictators and officials live in immense wealth. In a statist economy, those with wealth can impose their will on those who don’t have wealth. The best way to give power to the people is to get them jobs that pay.
Trade gives wealth to real Cubans. Capitalism and trade give them a way out of communist oppression.
Now, Senators Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez, and others argue that free trade empowers the regime by giving them access to more money and by providing political stability through economic stability. In a vacuum, those arguments make sense, but in the real world, these arguments have been proven wrong. The dictators maintain wealth no matter what and they maintain stability through political terror and harsh tactics.
Economic sanctions against Cuba have not made Cuba freer. In fact, only the opposite has happened — until the Obama administration finally started to let these outdated embargoes and sanctions go. At Red Alert, we rarely agreed with President Obama, but on this policy, he was correct, even if it was for the wrong reasons.
President Trump promised many Cuban Americans in Florida to be tough on the regime; that’s one reason he won in Florida. However, we can be tough on the dictators politically and militarily without punishing the Cuban people with economic restrictions. In fact, the best way to hurt communism in Cuba would be to increase capitalism in Cuba through trade. Let’s hope the rumors of a reversal are wrong.