So, you think you had a rough day at the office? School? Life in general? Be happy and give thanks because your free, have access to the Internet, and can read posts such as these.
You’re likely living in the United States or another free and democratic nation. I know this is so because, with a few notable exceptions, a majority of our web traffic originates in countries where democracy and free markets reign. Unlike place such as China and Cuba, where the Internet and political dissent simply do not mix well.
For you Cuba policy watchers in town, especially those of you that are lobbying to ease U.S. economic sanctions, this short post is for you.
A colleague sent me this afternoon a recent New York Times story that details how, despite the Cuban regime’s economic “reform” efforts the past few years, a migration crisis may be brewing 90 miles from our shores. Why is that?
Heck, recently in a Washington, DC Cuba policy forum I heard that things were much better today, economically, thanks to Raul’s reformas. The relatively new director of the Cuban Interests Section has been seen around town extolling the Mariel Port deal and the new foreign investment law. There have even been high level U.S. business delegations to the island the past few months to view the Cuban milagro.
The simple fact is that nothing has changed in the North Korea of the Western Hemisphere. Cuba is a Communist totalitarian police state. Cuba will never be a Latin America Vietnam or China. They do not understand free market economics and do not plan to do so anytime soon. And so long as Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and a handful of other political troglodytes remain in power, that is how it will be.
It is window dressing. Reform in name only, until the political wheels fall off. And they will fall off.
I rarely, if ever, share New York Times stories. The editorial page has been an apologist, and at times supporter, of the Cubans (there are a few NYT reporters who are a great read but they rarely write Cuba stories). However, a quote by a recent arrival from Cuba to the United States merits a click or two:
“Even if half the people who leave from Cuba do not survive, that means half of them did,” Mr. La O said, speaking from his grandmother’s house in Miami, where he arrived last week. “I would tell anyone in Cuba to come. It’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”
Think about that for a minute. This exile would rather die trying to reach our shores than living under the Cuban government’s boot. If you’re thinking about traveling to Cuba or selling goods to the Cuban government, think about for a long minute or two.
Easing economic sanctions will only make matters much worse. It would institutionalize the Communist party to such a degree that it will take decades of political hardship, or worse, for the Cuban people to use democratic tools to get rid of them. Think Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
What is needed is the application of economic sanctions as Congress intended and the law requires; as well as serious policy planning for post-Communist Cuba.
Give thanks that you live in freedom and that the most you have to complain about today is life in general, not your freedom.