Apr 28, 2009

Barack, scrap the Cuban embargo

I am a bit disappointed at the pace of change Obama is bringing. Of course, he has to spend most of his time dealing with the worse crisis ever but still, he's too conservative on many issues. One of them is in dealing with Cuba. At a recent Summit of the Americas, where all countries except Cuba got together to talk about intra-continental cooperation, he decided to scrap all restrictions on visits and remittances to the island by Cuban-Americans, and that American firms would be allowed to provide telecoms services to Cubans, including telephone roaming and fibre-optic broadband connections with the United States (if Cuba agrees).

This doesn't make any sense. Why not make history right now and scrap the embargo? This is a chicken game you will never win. The US should put its own pride on the side (stop acting like a baby) and act responsibly (like an adult) by scrapping the embargo.

Economic sanctions in general never work, as summarized in Vox columns here and here. Actually, they result in the exact opposite of the desired outcome, where an oppresive regime gets even more powerful as the population is isolated, empoverished, and emptied of democratic power. And also, as The Economist puts it, "the embargo is unfair (it hurts Cubans rather than their government), illogical (America has normal relations with other communist countries such as China and Vietnam) and counterproductive (it gives the Castro brothers a pretext for tyranny)."

So next time you wanna deal with an oppresive regime, do the exact opposite of what you did with Cuba. Don't even think about economic sanctions, you should do the exact opposite: do business in any possible way. Promote internet connectivity as much as you can, promote tourism there, promote buying their products, promote investment there etc...This will empower people and bring down the oppresive regime. Power to the people.

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