What's wrong with Cuba

Sailor I think that the points you are making are largely red herrings.

I am not saying that Cuba is a wonderful place, or that they are anything other than devastatingly poor, or that a dictatorship is a desirable form of government or that if US sanctions were lifted everything in Cuba would be instantly rosy, or that other nations don’t break the embargo to some extent.

What I am saying is that none of the above is helped by Cuba being subject to heavy handed sanctions and being treated like a pariah state by the global power on whose doorstep they live.

Nothing you have said alters the simple fact that whatever other problems Cuba has, the US almost certainly makes them worse, and the US is or should be big hearted enough to handle those problems by other than thuggish, bullying, standover means.

Bush has said that he believes that free trade is a tool of liberation because it encourages the spread of ideas and freedom, not just goods. To a certain extent I agree. Last month he held a trade conference with virtually all of South America, expressing the above ideal. By his own logic, Cuba should have been a star invitee, but no, the blind spot in relation to Cuba persists.

Even if you accept that sanctions are a legitimate means of applying pressure to foreign governments to achieve policy goals, for how many years is the US going to persist before they realise that sanctions against Cuba have FAILED. If you have applied a treatment to something, and it hasn’t worked for LITERALLY DECADES, just how long are you going to go on before the voices saying, “Aah, hello, it’s NOT WORKING, guys” get through? No, if the US was seriously trying to find a cure, it would have changed tack long ago. Which is why the world looking on concludes it is a bullying grudge match in which the US is too stubborn and mean and unwilling to lose face to back down.

By providing Cuba with a huge, overbearing enemy, the US creates the perfect environment for the survival of a military dictator. Such people always thrive in an atmosphere where the population can easily be lead to believe that a “strong man” leader who will stand up to the nation’s enemies is essential.

Sailor if as you vehemently argue, US sanctions are not hurting Cuba then what exactly are they for? Are you saying they are just some sort of empty gesture? Dream on.

And finally, Sailor you say you don’t understand my comment that “China didn’t have the affrontery to be a mouse that squeaked in the face of the US gorilla during the cold war.”

My point was that China is a powerful nation, approaching world power status. They don’t sqeak, they roar (or at least yell pretty loud). As an international bully, the US understands and respects that kind of threat. But what a bully really can’t stand is a pipsqueak on their doorstep who won’t kowtow to them. And I think there are people in the US who have a very long standing grudge against Cuba for their damned impudence (Cuban missile crisis in particular).

And now Libertarian. You miss the point. Castro is a thug. That does not excuse the US for being a bigger thug. And please don’t try to tell me that the US has any sort of consistent policy of sanctioning dictators. The US is quite happy with US friendly dictators, in fact as others have pointed out, the US instals such people as a standard foreign policy tactic. After all, Saddam has “Made in the USA” stamped on his back (not to mention much of his armament) the only catch being that he got out of control.

No, the sanctions are not because Castro is a nasty dictator, they are because he is a nasty dictator who is not a US puppet.

You say my arguments are red herrings and then you concede every point one by one. I’ll have to check my ichthyology manual but in the meanwhile I’ll say you are putting words into my mouth.

I am all for free trade and I am not defending the embargo on any grounds. I have no position on the embargo. All i am saying is that it is not the cause of Cuba’s problems. You say some countries “break the embargo to some extent”. That shows your ignorance on the subject. Only the US has decreed an embargo the rest on the nations of the world are free to trade with Cuba. The reason they do not send shiploads of stuff to Cuba is the same reason they do not send them to any other poor country: they expect to get some cash in return. It just so happens Cuba has no cash to pay with. The little cash they have they spend abroad and other countries are happy to sell them stuff.

Do you think Cuban drive old American cars because they like that or because they cannot buy Japanese cars? I guarantee you any other country would be happy to sell them cars. But the only new cars in Cuba are for rental to foreigners. If Cubans had the money they could have the cars.

I have no position on the embargo. The US has a right to do it. After all, those commies expropriated (that means stole) a lot of American property. I know Spain opened up because Cuba agreed to indemnify those whose property had been taken. Is Castro willing to do the same with the US?

In any case, my point is this: (1)Cuba’s situation is not caused by the embargo, and (2) if there were good business opportunities in Cuba for American companies, you can bet your red herrings they would fast forget about the past and lobby to be let in.

BTW, it was not too long ago that American farmers were authorized to sell grain to Cuba because they had nowhere else to sell it. It was authorized by Clinton with the condition they were to be paid in cash. Hard, cold cash, that is what rules. If other american companies saw similar opportunities, you can be sure they would soon be authorized to trade.

The Cuban embargo is mostly for the sake of domestic American politics.

Cuba’s political and economic problems are mostly self-inflicted. To the extent the American embargo effects it, it probably strengthens the Cuban government. Castro now has a convenient excuse to blame his self-imposed failures on; he can tell his subjects that his economic policies would work if it wasn’t for the United States. I’d say the best thing we could do would be to normalize trade and let him try to explain away economic reality.

And embargoes are not exclusively an anti-communist policy. Japan (prior to WWII), Iran, and South Africa have all been embargoed by the US.

You are quite right, other countries are free to trade with Cuba, bad choice of words on my part. The US frowns on it, but they are free to do so. Ships are free to call there, as long as they are happy not to be allowed to call in the US ever again (that may have changed, but that was certainly the case a few years back when I worked in that industry). And the Helms-Burton law may be suspended, but it hasn’t been repealed, and imagine the effect it has on the thinking of possible traders and investors, to know what you might suffer if you trade with Cuba and that law is ever brought into operation? Overall, yes other countries are free to trade with Cuba, but it is typical of heavyweight bullies that they don’t know their own weight and influence.

You keep saying this, but then you keep attempting to justify it. As I have said, no one is suggesting that Cuba (or at least Castro) is an angel. But whatever justification there is or once was (if any) for the embargo, it has gone on too long, and the US’s incalcitrance on the issue is now seen as pig-headedness by the rest of the world, I believe justifiably.

You say that the embargo is not the cause of Cuba’s problems and I agree that it is not the sole cause, but… a continuing theme of your posts is that Cuba does not have the cash to trade. I am not an economist but as I understand it, to earn the cash to be able to import, you need exports. Cuba’s ability to export is severely curtailed by not being allowed freely into one of the richest markets in the world (the US) and by being at least partially shut out of the free trade agreements and conferences (dominated by the US) in relation to the rest of the americas.

Now maybe what you are saying here is that no grain was actually sold to Cuba, because Clinton’s condition (cash terms) could not be met. But if grain was actually sold, then your anecdote suggests that the limiting factor is * authorization* ie the embargo, not Cuba’s ability to pay.

Little Nemo has put it very succinctly and very well. … Are we having a great debate yet? … OTOH I think this thread has already climaxed (I know I have) and has nowhere to go but down…

There’s nothing wrong with Cuba that a little old fashioned “minding your own damned business” on the part of the US wouldn’t solve.

— G. Raven

So, if the US were to mind its own business (presumably by dropping the embargo), somehow an economic system that has failed miserably everywhere else it has been attempted would magically work?

Oh, come on, when was the last time Florida’s votes ever decided anything? :wink:

I’m not sure that you and I (and perhaps Little Nemo) agree on the extent to which Cuba is the cause of its own problems, but otherwise, I agree. And is this a great debate? Nah, but it was a pretty damn reasonable one I reckon, thank you…

Y’know, Castro could end the embargo tomorrow if he stepped down and agreed to hold free elections. But that will never happen, because Castro is a communist dictator, and communist dictators never step down.

When Castro dies, the embargo will be lifted, no matter who replaces him or what policies they have. Everyone knows that the embargo has been ineffective. Now that the Soviet Union is dead, Cuba is no longer a staging area for them.

Now, “minding our own business.” Is there anything about “minding our own business” that says that we MUST trade with every tin-pot dictator in the world? We won’t trade with Cuba. To me, that IS minding our own business.

Leftists complain all the time about how foreign trade hurts third world countries. Well, here’s an example of a country that is protected from the ravages of corporate America. Are they better off, or worse off? Would allowing the multinational corporations to exploit the Cuban workers make them better off? Why do they think that all the other countries the US trades with are hurt by that trade, while Cuba is hurt because we don’t trade? Makes no sense.

Castro and his cabinet are gloomily considering how bad the situation is and what can be done about it. One of his ministers suggests declaring war on the US. “How is that going to help?” asks Castro.

  • Well, once they defeat us, they’ll come in and rebuild the country like they did with Germany and Japan. Look at them now.

Castro ponders for a moment… “Hmmm,… I don’t think it is such a good idea… What if we win?” :slight_smile:

I’ll confess a large degree of ignorance on the whole Embargo concept, but this thread has moved me to wonder this:

Just what, exactly, does Cuba have that we might want?

As I recall, even back in the pre-embargo days, Cuba’s primary export was a small quantity of sugar from cane fields and pretty decent cigars. End of list.

I guess what I’m asking is, were the embargo lifted today, who would “flock” over there to begin investing, and in what would they invest?

As I said, I don’t know much of Cuba, but other than cheap labor for sweatshop manufacturing, or perhaps a vacation/resort area, what else is there?

As mentioned above, other nations, notably Canada for one, are not part of the embargo, but I still don’t see anyone “flocking” to Cuba for any sort of business opprotunity.

Could it be that the US really hasn’t bothered with Cuba much since the days of the Missile Crisis, since it’s no longer strategic and has essentially no economic value to be exploited or promoted?

¡El Ratón Que Rugió! LOL!

My guess would be that if there was normal trade between the United States and Cuba, Cuba’s main “product” would be cheap labor. Cuba is a populous nation close to the Unites States with a low standard of living. American manufacturers would undoubtedly relocate to Cuba to take advantage of the lower labor costs.

One can appreciate the irony of a socialist country becoming a haven for corporations avoiding the cost of unionized labor and government regulations.

:rolleyes: is all I have to say about this.

You really think the US cares about the economy of Cuba? You really think they ban them from international trade to HELP their economy?

This is a political pissing contest on both sides, and has nothing to do with the wellbeing of anyone.

— G. Raven

zgystardst, that’s funny. I had never heard of that movie.

ML, I agree, a pissing contest but… It is silly for Cuba to remain in the contest with no chance of winning it. They think Americans are deeply pissed off and cannot achieve happiness just by the mere fact that Cuba exists.

America goes about its business and really Cuba does not affect it to any significant degree. In the meanwhile Cuba is holding its breath and turning purple in an effort to annoy the USA. Sort of like Saddam Hussein. Mighty silly if you ask me. You have to know when the pissing contest is over. I think it is fair to say Cuba is not going to win this particular pissing contest.

And to think that 100 years ago the USA could have kept Cuba and today it would be another state…that would have worked out better for everybody.

It’s not about win or lose, it’s about who your friends are.

America is fast becoming an unpopular country and allies can be found elsewhere, I think Cuba will do fine without it’s big neighbour’s consent.

— G. Raven

>> America is fast becoming an unpopular country

Well, I wouldn’t say that much. It seems to me Cuba is not winning many popularity contests either.

>> I think Cuba will do fine without it’s big neighbour’s consent.

Well,depends what you understand by “doing fine”. I think they’d do better if they joined the rest of the western nations in their values and system of government. Note that maybe the US is the only nation whith an embargo, but all democratic nations are very critical about Cuba’s government and pressure Cuba to change. yes, Cuba is managing to survive thanks to humanitarian help from outside (and, as I said, most comes from the USA) but I would not call that “doing fine”.

OTOH, if you consider they are doing fine, then why be concerned with the embargo?

I agree it is a silly pissing contest on both sides. The difference is that one side is about to drown in pee and still won’t concede. Oh well, let them keep going. I have no expectation they’ll win this round.

Who said I was concrened with the embargo, Sailor? :smiley:

As a sidenote, could pro-embargo people please tell me there positions on the Suharto Indonesian regime and the current Singapore government. Both have been proven to blatantly restrict free speach, my father lived in them both for many years respectively and had quite a lot of horror stories. The few foreign newspapers available were seized at the docs and controversial or critical pieces removed or ruined with black ink.
Let’s not forget the people killed and jailed for speaking out politically.

Why no embargo guys? Oh, right, them ain’t no commie pinkos.

— G. Raven

“their positions”, not “there”. I hate it when people do that ! :frowning:

I don’t see how that has anything to do with anything I said. Your original statement was that Cuba’s problems would be fixed if the US minded its own business. I countered that every other Communist country has been poor. I don’t support the embargo, but it is far from Cuba’s only problem. Ending it will not suddenly make Communism work.