Letter To The Editor
Having recently returned from a visit to Havana on a U.S. passport, I was disappointed to read Paul Jackson’s Cold War-era sentiments on that country in his Thunder on the Right commentary, which I usually enjoy.
I found little evidence of the oppressions of Cuba’s communist dictatorship, and instead found a happy, optimistic, prospering country with a booming (if non-U.S.) tourist industry (albeit government-run and not very efficient).
The 51-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, of which Paul seems to approve, has accomplished nothing positive and has actually hurt U.S. industries and citizens by causing Cuba to deal instead with Russian and Chinese industries, evidence of which is everywhere.
We found Cubans – and their foreign tourists from Canada, Europe and elsewhere – eager to see Americans return as visitors, something that is beginning slowly to happen in a limited way.
A question for Paul: If the U.S. can profitably trade with communist dictatorships like the one in China, why should it not do the same with Cuba? Both countries are modernizing and introducing citizen freedoms in their own ways. If you’re a conservative, you believe free trade benefits everyone.
Actually the U.S. is Cuba’s seventh-largest trade partner, so the embargo isn’t working as it once did. And who are we to economically bludgeon them into doing things our way, and faster than they already are? Such policies haven’t worked with North Korea, Iran and Syria, and they are not what caused the overthrow of Ghadaffi in Libya.
In short, trade sanctions are futile and counterproductive as strategies. They hurt the wrong people. Some things in the world we can’t fix.
Paul Jackson Replies:
Of course, Jim Dickenson saw only supposedly happy and optimistic people in Cuba on his recent visit there. In Communist Cuba, as in any other dictatorship, anyone who displays anything but absolutely contented faces, especially to foreign visitors, is immediately slammed into prison or otherwise penalized. Again, why does the Communist government there not allow freedom of the news media or free elections? President Barack Obama has had almost four years to end the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. Why hasn’t he?
Jim, I know the answers to many questions, but not to that one. Let’s not forget, back when John F. Kennedy was President, a man I greatly admire, Fidel Castro tried to install Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, aimed at the USA and Canada. It bought the world to the edge of nuclear war. Just recently it was announced Russia is negotiating for a submarine base in Cuba. Seems like a dreadful repeat of history. Jim seems to imply I don’t mind the USA trading with Communist China or nations with other fearsome regimes, I made it clear I never buy products from China or any other nation that exploits its people.
Actually, Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper was dead set against doing trade with China because of its abusive human rights record, but after Obama vetoed the Keystone pipeline, in came the “unintended consequences” clause and Harper reluctantly accepted Canada must start selling almost one million barrels of excess oil a day to China, and China is reported to be planning to build as many as 400 huge supertankers to cross the oceans every day to Canada’s West Coast to pick up that oil. To me, an environmental nightmare – likely to Jim, too – far, far worse than any potential environmental damage from Canada’s Keystone pipeline. I stand my ground.
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