Time to end Cuba embargo
William Douglass, Reno Gazette-Journal
It seems probable that there will soon be serious immigration reform in America. President Barack Obama and the Democrats owe it to their Latino constituents.
After their defeat, many Republicans now understand that the future of the party depends upon its ability to attract more of the swelling Latino vote. Republicans cannot even be perceived as holding their noses and going along with the reform. They clearly need to be able to claim a share of its authorship. It all smacks of a bipartisan accord.
While we are at it, let’s get rid of what has easily proven the most pig-headed and least successful foreign-policy issue in my lifetime.
The Castros have now survived 10 American administrations — and counting. Virtually all of the rest of the world has long since put the blockade aside. Canadians and Europeans, Chinese and Latin Americans are all making money out of normalized Cuban trade and have provided most of the investment in the island’s growing tourist industry. Meanwhile, American manufacturers and farmers are forced to sit on the sidelines. (Actually, there is now a significant Republican lobby that wants the blockade removed in its own economic interest.)
So, why do we continue with the absurdity? Is it because Cuba is a Communist country? What then of our many ties with Communist China and even Vietnam — our former battlefield enemy in a conflict that took tens of thousands of American lives? Yes, there are no free elections (at least for head of the country) in Cuba, but the same can be said of 50 or more countries around the world with which we maintain “normal” relations.
Furthermore, Cuba is in the midst of significant political and economic changes, ones that are underreported in our media. Did you know that Cubans can now engage in a large number of private business? Did you know that they can now own their houses and automobiles — buying and selling them at will and passing them on to their heirs?
Legislation has now been passed whereby, as of this January, any Cuban can apply for a two-year exit visa and then ask for its extension from abroad. There are currently tens of thousands of Cuban guest workers in Canada and many others in Europe — not to mention throughout the underdeveloped world.
None of the recent changes were instituted to please or appease us. The Cuban Revolution is evolving in its own terms and in response to its own economic and social challenges. It is time for us to simply get it and get on with it.
Removal of the blockade would be the single-most efficacious contribution that we could make to the creation of a freer and more prosperous Cuba. Indeed, it would remove at a stroke the Communist regime’s main rhetorical weapon — the American victimization of Cuba — as it struggles to hold on to some modicum of power.
William Douglass is a Reno native, casino owner and professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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