Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, June 02, 2003

When it comes to the debate on the Cuban embargo I am torn. I am basically a free market kind of guy but I also fully understand that our free market is not necessarily going to translate into a free market in Cuba. This Cuban exile articulates well the fears I have in loosening the embargo.

Israel Mejia, owner of the Cuban American Barber Shop in Melbourne, doesn't envision more tourists and trade somehow squeezing Castro out or becoming a boon to Cubans.

"I was born in that system," said Mejia, who has owned the Melbourne shop for three years. "No matter what restriction or embargo, Fidel Castro will be there."

Mejia said he understands that many people hope easing restrictions will allow Cubans to ply manufacturing, art, food and other trades to tourists, who, in turn, would shell out American dollars, highly coveted over the weak Cuban peso.

But that hope would fail on two fronts, he said.

Aid packages, such as grain or rice, would be confiscated by Castro and then sold back to tourists for a high profit, never reaching their intended destination of poor or downtrodden Cubans.

Further, there is an unkind fate waiting for any Cuban families who actually make money from tourists -- having it all taken away if government agents find out, Mejia said.

In the short term, some families or residents could increase their income significantly from tourists, he said.

But, what would happen when the families start to try to improve their lives by getting a better television, clothes or finer foods?

That is when the government would use strong-arm tactics, Mejia said, to go to that family's home, destroy the television, ransack the house and take the family away -- simultaneously shoving them back into place while making an example for others.

"It is impossible for tourism to help the Cuban people," he said. "Fidel will take and destroy everything."

The people who argue to raise the embargo have not fully explained how this outome can be avoided. They just say that the free exchange of money and ideals will lead to great changes in Cuba. But, how do we prevent Castro from manipulating those people and thier money for his purposes? It is not like there will be free and open borders with people allowed to travel and trade in Cuba as they see fit. Everything will funnel through and have to be approved by Castro in such a way that will strenghten his regime. Tell me how that can be prevented and I will support the raising of the embargo.

< email | 6/02/2003 02:30:00 PM | link

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