Wednesday, November 21, 2012

U.S. should approach Cuban embargo with caution

U.S. should approach Cuban embargo with caution
Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It has been more than 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed a
trade embargo against Cuba, mainly because of Cuba's relationship with
Russia during the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The embargo
restricts American companies from forming business relationships
with Cuban interests.

Since the embargo took effect in 1962, debate over its ramifications on
the Cuban government and the potential good that lifting the sanctions
could do for Cuban citizens has been a major ethical issue in American
foreign affairs. Speculation arises that Cuba may be less tentative to
allow American business interests in the country, as it would allow
Cuban citizens and businesses to prosper and take control and capital
away from the government.

The U.S. should move cautiously toward lifting the embargo and engaging
in this type of economic partnership with Cuba, as it runs the risk of
benefitting only the Cuban government's agenda, rather than for the good
of the people.

Currently, only a small amount of humanitarian aid, such as medical
supplies and food, can cross the Cuban border and reach the Cuban
population. Beyond that, Fidel and Raul Castro have shown little to no
signs of giving in on their stance to remain self-sustaining. Cuba has
proven that there is little wisdom in this philosophy, as much of the
country lives in poverty.

The dilemma revolves around whether American engagement in Cuba would
actually go to help its economy or just be pilfered by Castro's regime.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lethinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, told the New York Times that "we should not buy into
the facade the dictatorship is trying to create by announcing 'reforms'
while, in reality, it's tightening its grip on its people," suggesting
that the embargo should not only be left in place but also that its
restrictions should be magnified.

Lifting the embargo, in theory, seems like it would open up a new era of
investment in Cuba, allowing U.S. and Cuban businesses to work together
and create economic capital for the state — and this is the ideal goal.
Yet the risk of government corruption is too great, and the U.S. should
work slowly to make changes to its policies, lest its actions end up
supporting a regime it has fought so hard to suppress.

Despite how relentless American political discourse can get, the
oppression that Cubans face from their government is daunting enough.
While the Cuban embargo is unlikely to let up until their government is
willing to lessen the totalitarian control over its people, America
should be working proactively to end the embargo in a manner that pushes
Cuba toward democracy and a free-market.

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