The Republican Party’s 2012 Platform states that they will not lift “trade, travel, and financial sanctions” until Cuba’s government reflects “the principles codified in U.S. law“.
Anyone reading this blog for some time would likely not be surprised to hear that I’m against the Cuban embargo.
As a person who has been to Cuba a few times and wholeheartedly believes in many of the US’s founding principles, I find this particular plank in the Republican Party’s platform astounding. Especially that they are still insisting on it in 2012!
A Problematic Policy
I have previously addressed the topic of the embargo on Cuba at length. So I will not go into great depth. I will merely summarize problems with the embargo and provide quotes from others.
1. It is a failed policy. The embargo has ensured that the Castro regime remains in power.
- Republican V.P. candidate Paul Ryan in 2002 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (though he has changed his position numerous times on this): “The embargo doesn’t work. It is a failed policy. It was probably justified when the Soviet Union existed and posed a threat through Cuba. I think it’s become more of a crutch for Castro to use to repress his people. All the problems he has, he blames the American embargo.”
- A letter from 74 Cuban dissidents: “”We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society.”
- A letter from 2002 signed by 48 former U.S. senators, including 16 Republicans: “Our present policy was created as a tool to topple the Castro government. Fidel Castro has not been in power for 43 years—and we have had ten Presidents during that time. Our current policy has failed.”
- Directory of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, Daniel Griswald – “As a foreign policy tool, the embargo actually enhances Castro”s standing by giving him a handy excuse for the failures of his homegrown Caribbean socialism.”
- Republican Congressman Ron Paul:”The policy was designed to weaken the Castro regime, but I believe it actually helped him maintain control and allowed his thugs to hold power decades longer than they would have otherwise been able.”
- Republican Congressman Ron Paul: “If we wouldn’t have had this embargo for 40 years, Castro would have been gone a long time ago”"
- Republican Rep. Jeff Flake: “ “Our policy toward Cuba has been built on the faulty premise that the Cuban government favors an end to the travel ban and embargo…Save for their rhetoric, there is little evidence that the Cuban government actually wants such an outcome. In fact, every time relations between the U.S. and Cuba appear to be warming, the Cuban government takes action…to ensure that the status quo is maintained.”
2. It denies very basic liberties to American citizens (including the freedom to travel, freedom of association, and freedom to trade).
- Republican Rep. Jeff Blake: “If someone limits my travel, it should be a Communist not my own government””
- Economics professor William L. Anderson: “I would rather honor our own legacy of freedom and free markets by allowing Americans to travel to Cuba and trade openly with its people”
- Congressman Ron Paul: “Free trade and the open exchange of information are the best tools America has to combat international tyranny. The U.S. should quickly end the Cuban trade embargo. Cuban markets would be a great place for our farmers and businesses to sell their products.”
- Congressman Ron Paul: “ Americans want the freedom to travel and trade with their Cuban neighbors, as they are free to travel and trade with Vietnam and China. Those Americans who do not wish to interact with a country whose model of governance they oppose are free to boycott. The point being — it is Americans who live in a free country, and as free people we should choose who to buy from or where to travel, not our government.
- |Huffington Post Correspondant Dellia Lloyd: “According to the travel-service provider Orbitz Worldwide, 67 percent of Americans favor lifting the travel ban, and 72 percent believe that expanding travel to Cuba would positively impact the lives of Cubans”
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that $1.2 billion per year of sales and exports are lost due to the embargo.
- Directory of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, Daniel Griswald - ”The American Farm Bureau estimates that Cuba could eventually become a $1 billion agricultural export market for products of U.S. farmers and ranchers. The embargo stifles another $250 million in potential annual exports of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and tractors. According to a study by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the embargo costs American firms a total of $700 million to $1.2 billion per year.”
3. It is inconsistent–holding Cuba to a standard that it is unwilling to hold other countries to (including some of their own allies and preferred trading partners).
- A letter from 2002 signed by 48 former U.S. senators, including 16 Republicans: “The United States recognizes and trades with several nations that have a human rights record worse that Cuba’s.”
- Directory of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies, Daniel Griswald - ”the Chinese government has jailed and killed far more political and religious dissenters than has the Cuban government. And China is arguably more of a national security concern today than Castro’s pathetic little workers’ paradise. Yet China has become our third largest trading partner while we maintain a blanket embargo on commercial relations with Cuba.”
- Ricardo Torres Havana University’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy: “There have been many arguments to support the US policy, from Cuba’s siding with the Soviets to human rights, but the US has relations with many countries with poor relations on human rights”
- Former U.S. Senator John Breaux in 1975: “My constituents say that if the United States can sell grain to the Soviet Union and China, why can’t they sell rice to Cuba?”
- Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law in 1998: “”It is impossible to reasonably support the embargo against Cuba while at the same time granting Most Favored Nation Status to the People’s Republic of China.”"
- American Journalist Eric Margolis: “The US has maintained its crushing boycott under the laughable pretexts that Havana holds 200 political prisoners and is Communist. Yet the US cheerfully deals with Communist China and Vietnam, and itself holds 36,000 Iraqi political prisoners, not to mention Guantanamo. America’s ally Israel holds 10,000 Palestinian political prisoners.”
- Time Senior Editor, Tony Karon: “China is a lot more repressive than Cuba, and yet we’ve normalized trade relations with Beijing on the argument that trade will hasten reform and democratization. …It’s nonsensical to argue that trade induces better behavior from communist regimes in China and North Korea, but will do the opposite in Cuba.”
4. It is out-dated. The Cold War is over. Cuba poses no military threat to the U.S.
- Former Reagan Administration Secretary of Treasury and Secretary of State George Shultz: ”I have long felt and have said publicly on a number of occasions that, with the cold war behind us, we should simply remove the embargo on Cuba.”
- Edward Kennedy in 1975: ”I believe the idea of isolating Cuba was a mistake. It has been ineffective. Whatever the reasons and justifications may have been at the time, now they are invalid.”
- The United Nations General Assembly has condemned the embargo as a violation of international law every year since 1992.
- When a resolution came up against the embargo in the U.N. in November 2005, the vote was 182 against the embargo, 4 for the embargo (U.S., Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau), and 1 abstained.
- As of 2011, the list of countries which have officially opposed the U.S. embargo of Cuba include
- Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea‑Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor‑Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
6. It is cruel to the Cuban people (it hurts them more than it hurts the government of Cuba)
- Time Senior Editor, Tony Karon: “[M]illions of his people are suffering all manner of deprivations that the could be eased by lifting an embargo that’s never going to overthrow him anyway. Stopping Cubans from benefiting from trade with the U.S. and interaction with American tourists leaves Castro unscathed, but it deprives the Cuban people of a taste of freedom that could only undermine a repressive regime.”