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Cuban Embargo Has Far Outlived Its Usefulness

Memo Pad Politics

Cuban Embargo Has Far Outlived Its Usefulness


“Wanna give me jail time and a fine…

Fine, let me commit a real crime” — Jay-Z, “Open Letter”

If pictures tell the tale, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, so famous their last names need not be mentioned, had a marvelous time on their recent trip to Cuba, where they were trailed by starry-eyed fans, just as they are everywhere else they go. According to press accounts, they were forced to cut short a tour of Havana’s historic old city because they were surrounded by a swarm of thousands, and their security guards got nervous.

That just goes to show you that Fidel Castro’s efforts to wall off the island nation from his powerful enemy to the north have failed miserably. He and his brother have perfected the dark arts of the dictatorship — jailing dissidents, stifling protest, controlling internal news media, severely restricting travel abroad — but the lights of the outside world shine brightly through the cracks.

Castro’s long-running tyranny has not managed the thoroughgoing isolation of, say, North Korea, where citizens have little realistic knowledge of the rest of the world.

Still, Castro has his accomplices here in the United States — fanatics who would help him wall off Cuba, restrict the access its citizens have to American culture and generally thwart a hoped-for transition from dictatorship to democracy. Bizarrely, those accomplices consider themselves Castro’s biggest enemies. They have dedicated themselves to his demise.

Indeed, if you know about the recent trip to Cuba by America’s First Couple of Pop, you probably heard about it through the controversy ginned up by a handful of Florida Republicans: Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart. Without waiting to investigate the trip, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart, especially, began complaining that it was likely a violation of the antediluvian U.S. embargo.

As it turns out, Beyoncé and Jay-Z entered Cuba legally. They went as part of a cultural and educational exchange arranged under the auspices of a group called Academic Arrangements Abroad and approved by the U.S. Treasury Department, according to Reuters. But the Florida pols didn’t want facts; they wanted to embarrass President Obama by implicating two high-profile political supporters in something nefarious.

It’s the anti-Castro faction who should be embarrassed. The Cuban embargo is dumb, one of the most antiquated and least sensible federal laws remaining on the books. Enacted in the early 1960s, it is a remnant of a different time — an era of bobby socks, segregation and a serious threat emanating from the Soviet Union.

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Ivo Santini April 13, 2013

    It’s true. We faught a war in Vietnam to stop the Communists, yet today we buy what they make. China is still Comnmunist but we buy everything from there. Why treat Cuba differently?

    1. Michael Kollmorgen April 14, 2013

      The reason why this is different is because corporations and private enterprises that were sponsored by the US down in Cuba were mostly Nationalized by Castro.

      They’re still pissed and want their money back and/or the people who cooperated with these US Agribusiness Corporations who were killing peasant farmer by the thousands to get their land, want their “status” back and bring back the days of unfettered, unchained, corruptible capitalism.

      Basically, our Corporations wanted cheap Sugar and make it a Playground for the well to do, the extremely wealthy and to hell with the overall population down there. It kept the “people” poor and maintained a form of economic slavery. Castro wasn’t going to tolerate it.

      Of course, the only people who want this to happen and bring back “their” former Glory Days are our corporations and former Cubans now refugee Cuban Americans who are usually Republicans down in Florida.

      1. charleo1 April 14, 2013

        What you say, is sadly true. And not only in Cuba, has the U.S.
        in the past, acted with mercenary immorality, at the behest of the
        United Fruit Co., and other U.S. corporations. Some Americans,
        are of the opinion, to bring up such things is unpatriotic. But I
        think, if we are to fully understand the underlying reasons for
        the instability, poverty, and failure of many of these Central, and
        South American Countries. I think it would be wise for the U.S.
        to acknowledge, our part in that. That we haven’t always acted
        in the past, in ways that reflected our own best values. Values,
        by the way, that inspired most of those Countries to seek
        independence, and fashion their own, Constitutions based on ours.
        So there is still much respect for America, throughout the region.
        And America, will need strong relationships with those Countries,
        in a global economy. Some, like Brazil, and Venezuela, are already
        first world economies. And, America could do herself no better turn.
        Than reestablishing, and mending our somewhat, tattered, but in
        tact, relationships with our hemispheric neighbors. But, this time
        round, as partners.

        1. Michael Kollmorgen April 14, 2013

          You are right about Brazil.

          However, much of Brazil’s economic improvement has come at the expense of the Amazonian Native Tribes.

          US Corporations are burning off thousands of acres of native forest to replace it with their products and forcing the native tribes off their lands, basically repeating what we did to our native Indian tribes.

          And, what bothers me most of all, the Amazon Forest supplies our Earth with approximately 25% of the AIR we breath. Not to mention destroying the possibility of these plants supplying us with new medicines. Much of the Amazon Forest still is totally primitive and not even explored yet.

          Yes, countries like Brazil should become “partners” of ours, but with a keen eye towards exploitation and keeping us in check.

          BTW, Dole is one of the big ones down there.

  2. Germansmith April 13, 2013

    You want to end Communism? Simple. Open a couple of Walmarts and Costcos over in Cuba and infect them with our consumerism.
    Communism will be over and Cubans in Cuba will enter the rat race to make money and buy endless amounts of useless goods that will never make them happy.

    1. RobertCHastings April 14, 2013

      It hasn’t worked in China, so why should we think it will work in CUBA. Capitalism is creating a vast middle-class in China which may be able to shape the future of our largest trading partner, for, now that they have been exposed to American consumerism, it could quite easily follow they might want a taste of liberty, equality and brotherhood.

      1. Michael Kollmorgen April 14, 2013

        Funny part about this is that IF China does ever adopt capitalism, we’ll be a third class country. And, believe me, Chinese Officials will never tolerate the type of corruption that was done to us by our our Wall Street. It ain’t gonna happen over there.

        They’ve already stood people up against walls and shot them for poisoning hundreds of people just few years ago using plastic in baby milk.

        Here we give them a raise. Over there they shoot em!

        Also, IF they ever do adopt capitalism, it’ll take a bit longer since after all, that country has existed for well over 5000 years. They ain’t gonna change as easily as one would think, just because they have a new toy.

        They have entirely different type of culture from ours. Yes, they may have a growing middle class. But, their value systems are way different than ours. They will do whatever it takes to keep greed and corruption out of their society. And, I don’t blame them.

        Liberty, equality and brotherhood are only great concepts. But in reality, there isn’t much of that here. I doubt they’d want to adopt our versions of it. IF they do, I hope they do a better job of it than we have.

        1. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

          You are entirely too cynical. Both the US and China are not that far removed from the most repressive and corrupt form of government – the divinely ordained kingship. We are less than 300 years beyond that stage, and China is not that much farther away from it. Democracy and Communism both have a degree of corruption built into them because, as we both know, humans are anything but perfect. While China may make the occasional scene of publicly executing some corrupt government or business official, it is little more than a scene. As you indicate, capitalism is the ultimate corrupter, but, at least, under capitalism everyone gets a piece of the pie.

          1. Michael Kollmorgen April 16, 2013

            Well, I don’t know about that “piece of pie” analogy.

            Seems to me when over 80% of our population has to scamble over its left over 30% of its wealth, which the top 10% leaves us, somethings wrong.

            Sorry, but getting a piece of the pie just isn’t working and shrinking. I doubt it ever did.

            Yes, China does seem to give lip-service to it sometimes, corruption that is. But, at least they seem to be trying. We reward our crooks.

            Look what they did to us on Wall Street a few years ago.

            You are right, I am very cynical. But, then, I honestly don’t have much hope left for this country. I could discuss with you horror story upon horror story of how I’ve tried to get that piece. Yes, I’ve survived through it all. But, it’s left it’s mark on me for life.

            Us Citizens shouldn’t have to go through all this crap. Much of this should be a birth right.

          2. RobertCHastings April 16, 2013

            I am truly sorry that you are so cynical, whether you feel it is justified or not. We all must make our own way in the world and come to peace with our decisions. One of my all-time favorite songs is Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love”, for it teaches that perhaps the most important thing we can do in seeking our own happiness is loving ourselves.

      2. Germansmith April 15, 2013

        Well, when Cubans find liberty, equality and brotherhood they should give us a call and maybe they can help us find it as well.

        As with the French Revolution Liberte, Eqalite e Fraternite, they were all free to lose their head, equally screwed and mutual misery is a great opportunity for people to become brothers in disgrace.

  3. Juli Kring April 13, 2013

    I agree with all of the below, plus i am *furious* that American workers are forced to compete with what amounts to slave labour in China.
    “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we
    know that it is bad economics.”
    ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

  4. charleo1 April 13, 2013

    If I might butcher Churchill. Never in the annals of human history, has so
    many came so close to losing so much, over so little, as the island of Cuba.
    So, after the Cuban missile crisis, it seems all those involved in this little mis-
    understanding, decided after coming much closer than anyone knew to
    ending life on the planet, over a small spit of land in the Northern Caribbean,
    to back off, and be totally dishonest about the whole thing, for at least the next
    sixty years. It did produce some winners. Fidel Castro. That got to blame every
    economic plan that failed to raise the standard of living for the vast majority on the
    Island. On the embargo imposed by the Imperialist Yankee Dogs. Obsessed with
    enslaving the proud Cuban People. Republican politicians. Who still come to Miami,
    to drink coladas, talk about the Bay of Pigs, and Kennedy’s betrayal. And vowing
    to never lift the embargo, as long as their Brothers, and Sisters suffer under the
    cruel boot of Communism in Cuba. And losers. The American Mafia. lost millions,
    when they failed to bribe Castro, as they had Batiste. And were forced to retreat
    to Las Vegas. Compared to Havana, a hot, dry, piece of crap outback, they were
    able to get, because nobody else, but the buzzards wanted it. Kruschev. Was

    ousted, for miscalculations. First in assuming Kennedy was a pampered rich kid,
    who’s Father had bought him the Presidency. And with nuclear missiles in Cuba,
    he could force the removal of several thousand nuclear tipped missiles, we had in
    place, encircling the U.S.S.R. As it became apparent, Kennedy was not going to
    budge, the second problem became the enormous military advantages of
    of the U.S. that determined it would be the Ukrainian potato farmer that would face
    the humiliation, and save the world. But, a conciliation prize, of a very lovely,
    although still very Communist. It’s a great campaign prop, for the GOP,
    in South Florida. Or Cuba North, if you prefer.

    1. Michael Kollmorgen April 14, 2013

      Churchill is nothing to brag about.

      Shortly before we entered WW2 in Europe, Churchill was the leader of the British Admiralty. He authorized the withdraw of Destroyer Escorts which was guarding American Freighters traveling from Britain back to the US. There were mostly carrying US Citizens. He knew it.

      As a result of withdrawing their Destroyer Escorts, the Germans sunk all of them, thereby inflaming the American Opinion to favor entering the war on the European Continent.

      Churchill knew by inflaming american opinion with all these deaths “by the enemy” we would favor entering the war.

      Churchill, more than anything was a RAT!

      1. charleo1 April 14, 2013

        Interesting. Would you remember the source?

        1. Michael Kollmorgen April 14, 2013

          I read it somewhere in some historical record, in passing, reading something else relating to it. I don’t remember the source unfortunately. It was last year when I read it.

          Churchill also hate Stalin’s guts. His hatred for Stalin prevented the Allies from giving Russia knowledge of our development of the A-Bomb, which was supposed to be only used on Germany.

          After the surrender of Germany, most of our scientific community, which had been working on the A-Bomb, wanted the project dismantled and research results totally destroyed. We never honored that request.

          When we finally used it on Japan, Russia ever since has become extremely paranoid and very suspicions about any “friendly” intentions by the western powers. This denial of information is what caused the Cold War. Of course, they developed their own using scientist who defected to the Russian side shortly before the war ended.

      2. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

        Whatever Churchill did along those lines was with the agreement and collusion of his partner across the Atlantic, FDR, who was battling a conservative and isolationist majority in Congress to ease the issues of the Great Depression AND to resuce Europe from the advancing tide of Hitler.

    2. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

      Part of the deal to remove the missiles and launchers from Cuba was a reciprocal promise from Kennedy to remove SOME of the missiles in Europe aimed at the Soviet Union. While this ratcheted down the rhetoric and the tensions, MAD was still a deterrent, so the status quo still obtained and WWIII was still a distinct possibility, especially as other nations were developing their own nukes, and still are. While the US still maintains a nuclear arsenal capable, by itseelf, of destroying life as we know it, other nations, like North Korea and Iran are in the process of securing all that is needed to light the fuse. It only requires a single match thrown on a leaking gas line to ignite a conflagration.
      As has been demonstrated, the “enormous military advantages of the U. S.” was a chimera. The MIG fighters possessed by the Soviet Union, in huge numbers, were superior to anything we could put in the air to challenge them, and many nations who aligned themselves with the Soviet Union during the Cold War were the beneficiaries of these highly capable machines. While the naval fleets of the US were supeior to those of the USSR, it still all came down to the size of the nuclear arsenals. Today we still fear the nuclear arsenals in unsecured areas, like Pakistan and the Ukraine, which, should they fall into the wrong hands, would bring about a swift and enduring end.

      1. charleo1 April 15, 2013

        Well, it’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? If the proliferation of these
        weapons advance as much in the next 70 years, as the last. It
        becomes very easy to see, where the human race winds up
        doing itself in over this technology. When an American President
        picks out 3 countries, calls them evil, but doesn’t attack the one
        with the bomb. I imagine the Supreme Leader of Iran has watched
        Saddam Hussein being hung. Or Khadfi being dragged out a drain
        pipe, and shot. I know what I’d think, when the subject of shutting
        down my nuclear program was brought up.

  5. JDavidS April 13, 2013

    The “cold war” ended long ago. There’s a beautiful island about 90 miles off the U.S. coast, full of some of the nicest people you could want to meet. Great vacationing to be had. Pleasant experiences to be had. Stop this foolishness. Drop the embargo.

  6. angelsinca April 13, 2013

    The embargo will go away the day Castro’s dictatorship ends, the people are no longer jailed for their political dissidence, and a non-corrupt democracy emerges. To correct the author, I heard about B & Z’s legal romp in Cuba from FoxNews. The rest of song lays out how Obama helped him gain legal entry, in spite of it’s anti-america tone. Beyonce looked totally bored of the celebrity within the Cuban cesspool.

    1. Michael Kollmorgen April 14, 2013

      Seriously, do you believe our democracy isn’t corrupt? True, we don’t throw people in jail for Political Dissident. But, we use a lot of other unjustified reasons to basically do the same thing.

      Yet, I assume, you would like to transplant OUR democracy down there?

      That was one of the biggest reasons why Castro got fed up with us and threw us all out of there – corrupted capitalism at its finest.

      1. angelsinca April 14, 2013

        Of course it’s corrupt. Look at the qualifer, “…and a non-corrupt democracy emerges…”

        1. Michael Kollmorgen April 17, 2013

          Hah, wouldn’t surprise me that most of the old Clunkers down there run better than most the new stuff their putting out today.

          Yea, I know the gas mileage would probably be miserable. But, gas mileage isn’t everything.

          I’d sacrifice my 2001 Ford Focus for a full size (in perfect shape) older car or pickup in heartbeat.

    2. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

      As evidenced by our own experience with democracy, your term of “non-corrupt democracy” is an oxymoron.

  7. SGT.REX POWER CULT April 14, 2013


  8. tommy2X4 April 14, 2013

    Yup, they need new cars.

  9. drewtwotwo April 14, 2013

    Had an argument with an avowed Communist who loved Cuba. Cuba makes most of it’s income from tourism, after the communist agreed with that I mentioned how ironic it was that Cuban citizens are forbidden to travel outside the country. His response was and I quote: “If they were allowed to do that, all the smart people would leave.”

  10. Dominick Vila April 15, 2013

    The country most affected by the embargo is the USA. Most Latin American countries, Europe and Canada have ignored the embargo for years and have been doing business in Cuba to the detriment of U.S. interests in our own backyard.
    The impetus for the embargo has been, and remains, the insistence of Cuban exiles in the USA determined to make the Castro brothers pay for the crimes they have committed. Unfortunately, an embargo that is ignored by most of our allies is not worth the paper it is printed on. A more effective approach to undermine the ability of the Castro brothers to govern, and end communist rule in Cuba, would have been massive investment in that island to demonstrate to contrast between an economic system that has mediocrity as its centerpiece and a system that rewards hard work and initiative.

    1. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

      Cuba would be much easier to sway from the dark side than China.

      1. Michael Kollmorgen April 15, 2013

        Yes, they would probably be easier to sway.

        But, I’ll tell ya, there isn’t really much difference between “us” and “them”. It’s not always the case of good against evil, whatever that might be.

        It’s all really a matter of perception.

        1. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

          For all too long it has been the assumption of the powers that be in this country that it is our destiny to dictate to the rest of the world. Which, per se, makes us dictators, as a nation and as a society. What we have done with 50+ years of embargoes and isolation against Cuba has had anything but the desired effect of turning Cuba to good, a pejorative term used to describe what our picture is of the world under American hegemony. That picture of hegemony is what prompted the Bush policy of preemption, and our invasion of Iraq. That picture is what guides us in our pursuit of a world (excluding us and our allies) free of nuclear weapons. That picture is what guided us in our manipulation of the Middle East for our own gains during the Cold War. You can follow the thread. As I am sure you would agree, it is the victors who write the history.

          1. Michael Kollmorgen April 15, 2013

            Yes, it IS the victors who write history.

            It used to be the victors also took all the spoils of war. Now, we pay people back to repair what we destroyed. Examples, Europe, Japan, Iraq, Afganestan.

            Go figure:)

            I don’t really think anyone is going to push THAT button. If even one of these goes off, you can be sure, it would mean their utter destruction MAD.

            But, we got two regimes, NK and Iran that could do exactly that. They would be totally destroyed if they did. Still, who knows what “their” allies would do.

            Look what happened in Boston today. Don’t be too surprised we find out that it was done by home-grown terrorist. This country is being affected and not by Nukes either.

          2. RobertCHastings April 15, 2013

            Since the initial hostility we seemed to express toward each other, we seem to be looking at things quitesimilarly. I feel as you do that what happened in Boston todayis likely the work of some homegrown nut case, like Timothy McVeigh. I feel that if the Arabs had done this, there would have been much greater loss of life, and there would have been some prior warnings since those groups love to take responsibility.
            Iran’s religious leaders would do it with the calculation of causing just a regional conflagration that would take out Israel and the allies of the US. Korea is a horse of a different color, there just seems to be no consensus on what Kim jung un is capable of doing, or even who is actually running the show. If it is his aunt and uncle who are pulling the strings, things may not get that out of hand; but if it is the boy, anything goes. He has to establish his credibility with his people and with his military, and is not in the least concerned with the fears of the rest of the world. South Korea could soon become an island nation, if there is anything left.

          3. Michael Kollmorgen April 16, 2013

            I’ve always considered Iran more of a major threat than Iraq.

            Sadam’s WMD and Republican Guard were all smoke screens. But, Iran, ahhhh, there’s a country that could potentially cause WW3. We should have taken out Iran, not Iraq. Iran is trying to get nuke capabilities, not Iraq.

            Israel just might do it anyway. Israel isn’t going to tolerate it much longer. Actually, Israel has the perfect opportunity now. Most of these border countries internal politics are largely in disarray. They have their own internal civil wars to worry about. Syria isn’t going to fight outside their border and neither is Egypt. Lebanon, Libya are both gone as far as warring countries.

            I don’t consider NK a major threat to us, SK is in jeopardy. And SK I think could handle NK pretty easily these days – maybe. China isn’t going to do anything anymore like they did during the Korean War. They got too much “business” to loose. The “boy” is just a blowhard with Nuke capabilities. A dangerous toy that could backfire on him as well. If he keeps up his crap, China just might bitch slap him and do our job for us.

            The US, Japan, SK, all the surrounding countries got so much junk aimed at him, he’d be a complete fool to do anything really stupid. Hell, even Japan is thinking of remilitarizing for defensive capabilities. They should too.

            I’ve never considered our mutual comments to each other of being on any hostile basis. Minor disagreements, yea. But, nothing major:)

          4. RobertCHastings April 16, 2013

            While I agree with much of what you say, it is easy to see that, were Israel to do something preemptive against Iran, it would have the unintended effect of focusing and uniting the area. The Arab League are, after all, still Arabs, and are primarily Muslim. What I personally find confusing is that both the Muslims (BOTH Shiite and Sunni) and the Jews see as their common ancestor Abraham. The majority of both the Old Testament and The Koran revolve around the stories of Abraham and his descendants. The big difference is that, while the Old Testament foresees the coming of the Christ, only the Koran truly honors Him and His Mother. The New Testament is not a book that guides Israel or that would unite Israel and the Arab world. Like we in the US, however, there are many divisions within the main religion. Christianity is rife with sects, as is Islam, each sect vying for primacy. The ayatollahs would see it as an act of martyrdom to unite the entire Arab world against Israel and the West if they were to sacrifice themselves. Egypt only has made a treaty with Israel, and that is coming under much criticism in the area.
            Korea is led by an immature child who believes the only way to make his mark is to see the rest of the world cower before him. He is petulant, and if those who are handling him appear to be getting in his way, he will do the unthinkable. What China’s response would be is uncertain; but I feel reasonably confident that Iran and Syria would come to their aid, possibly drawing in the rest of the Arab world. South Korea and Japan, the main western-aligned powers in the area, do not at present have the military might to withstand N. Korea.

          5. Michael Kollmorgen April 16, 2013

            As far as NK, I don’t know really. But, if these types of regimes are the same, with a overpowering snot nose as a leader, I wonder if NK is a paper tiger similar to Iraq. Only NK has nuke capability. The great Power Equalizer perhaps?

            I think even if war actually did break out, a lot of the NK army might defect. The sight of a McDs, KFC, Burger King might make it possible:)

            According to most reports I have heard and read, the South and North both have about a million soldiers stationed along its mutual border. So much for numbers in that regard.

            Oh yea, I think all the surrounding countries would have enough power to squash NK. It’d be one hell of a mess. If NK can’t assemble enough usable Nukes though, they certainly could use “dirty” bombs all over the place. This is what they would probably finally resort to.

            The big difference between Islam and Christianity about Jesus is that they consider Jesus a man, a prophet, not a son of god – as far as I know. So much for religion…………

    2. Michael Kollmorgen April 15, 2013

      The US Government has never thought that far ahead.

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