If you follow U.S.-Cuba matters, you know that Americans can travel to Cuba but under some very specific scenarios. Economic sanctions make travel very difficult if not impossible in most cases. Tourism travel is technically not allowed. If you have a relative on the island, however, you’re in luck. The restrictions are essentially non-existent.
I was watching a CNBC report filed from Cuba prepared by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera whose in Cuba reporting on the Cuban economy. For those of you wondering why economic sanctions, and U.S. policy generally, is not working stop reading, go to the video and scroll ahead to the 1:30 mark: Cuba: Edge of Economic Reform.
Did you notice the title, “Forbidden Fortune”? Think about this. Things are so bad in Cuba that in order to run a home small business — in this case a restaurant — you need to depend on your relatives in the United States to bring you staples such as rice, beans, and coffee in order to operate your business. It is illegal for Americans to do this, but it has been going on for some time and the U.S. Government has no way to realistically stop it.
Since the George W. Bush Administration, U.S. trade with the Communist island nation has been on the uptick. The Obama team has made it even easier for certain sectors to ship goods and services. None of this really makes a whole lot of sense and is inconsistent with U.S. law, but that has never stopped the federal government from bending the rules to advance an agenda. A poor one at that. What we should be doing is shutting down commerce with Cuba until the regime opens up the system or steps aside.
To her credit, Caruso-Cabrera is covering the economic climate from a free-market and free enterprise view. It is a big change from the leftist and pro-regime angles we usually see from the media. She is also going to discuss a story today on the third rail of U.S.-Cuba policy, pending property and other claims against the regime. This should be a lead story and public policy issue but it is ignored.
Cuba owes billions to U.S. companies and individuals for the illegal confiscation of properties and businesses the regime nationalized in 1959 and throughout the 1960s. Tag on Cuba’s external debt and we are talking billions upon billions of headaches. The regime knows it has to deal with this problem if it ever hopes to put the Cuban economy on a path to prosperity. The Communist party leaders that control the government right now are clueless. Recent reforms are reforms in name only. More window dressing in a Communist Potemkin Village.
The U.S. Government also needs to start defending U.S. taxpayers who were wronged by the regime. It is good that CNBC has the courage to talk about this issue. With the Pope’s visit the timing may be a little off, but they are a business network and were granted a visa by the regime after years of trying with no luck. Let’s hope it is the first of many news stories to focus on substance for a change. U.S. interests with regards to Cuba policy usually take a back seat to other less pressing matters. That needs to change.