Recent negotiations between Cuba and the United States have caused quite a stir within political circles in the United States. For the first time in over 50 years, US citizens may actually have the opportunity to travel to the tropical island and engage in commerce with its residents without much government hassle.
Most importantly, these talks may finally put an end to the infamous embargo the Kennedy administration enacted in the 1960s in response to the communist takeover of the island.
Interesting arguments on both sides of the political aisle have been put forth on the matter. Though the liberalization of political and economic relations between the two nations will not topple the Cuban regime overnight, this may allow the island nation to finally develop economically.
The main benefit of this opening in relations is that it will allow for US Americans, especially those perched in their ivory towers, to witness firsthand the rampant poverty brought on by over 50 years of Cuban-style communism.
In the 21st century, economic isolationism is not acceptable policy for any nation that markets itself as “the land of free.” Free trade and free movement of people is what ultimately brings peace and harmony. Yes, trade between Cuba and the United States will likely be heavily regulated by the Cuban state. However, even the smallest measures to liberalize an economy can still chip away at the most powerful of government structures.
At the end of the day, trade benefits all countries, no matter how authoritarian they may be. There is no reason that a country like the United States, which has armed and backed various repressive regimes and groups in the past few decades, should arrogantly prohibit its own citizens from visiting and trading with a country that it deems to be a part of the “Axis of Evil.”
This by no means excuses the horrendous atrocities the Cuban state has committed, but it highlights the inconsistencies of US foreign policy and trade when it comes to authoritarian regimes.
Look at China, a country responsible for some of the worst atrocities in mankind during Mao Zedong’s reign. It is currently the United States’s largest trading partner. Even with the various reforms carried out by Deng Xiaoping, China still remains an authoritarian one-party state that is in many ways just as repressive, if not more so, than the Cuban regime.
Unfortunately, this highlights the impersonal nature of state affairs that only views countries as political chess pieces that can be discarded at any moment, if they do not provide any use to the hegemon state. Ultimately, state actors win and the state’s citizens lose in these arrangements.
The US Congress still needs to vote on the lifting of the embargo for these reforms to be carried out. But it’s only a matter of time before cooler heads prevail. One thing is certain: the Castro regime can no longer point fingers at the US boogeyman once the trade embargo is lifted.
With time, Cuban citizens will wise up and realize that what they have been told by the Castro regime over the past few decades is a lie. Ultimately, the change that Cubans desire lies in them. It won’t just magically happen by lifting the embargo. And it’s definitely not going to come from the Pentagon, Langley, or the US State Department.
Like my fellow Venezuelans, the Cubans are the sole proprietors of their destiny.
Choose wisely, my friends.