It Is Not the Embargo
Investigador, Universidad de Miami
(www.miscelaneasdecuba.net).- The use of economic sanctions as a tool of
foreign policy is not new. In 431 B.C., Pericles' banned the Megarians
from the Athenian market and ports helping to incite the Peloponnesian
Wars. Today, economic sanctions are at the center of negotiations with
Iran and Cuba. And yet, many in the nations enacting sanctions, as well
as in the targeted nations misconstrue their use and impact. Let's take
the case of Cuba.
U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba were first enacted in 1961 when
President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order in response to the
Cuban government's expropriation without compensation of American
assets. Nearly six decades later, the issue remains unresolved and the
topic still dominates the rhetoric surrounding U.S.-Cuba relations. The
Cuban government, and its sympathizers use the fallacious term
"blockade" to confer a certain perversion to the policy and to blame it
for the economic failures of the regime.
Others argue, with validity, that the embargo has failed to change the
course or nature of the Cuban government. True, but it is also necessary
to point out that the alternative policy of engaging with the Cuban
government, pursued by the international community, has also failed to
change the nature of that regime.
Currently over 190 nations engage economically and politically with Cuba
while the United States remains alone in enforcing economic sanctions.
If the embargo is deemed a failure in changing the nature of the Cuban
government, there are 190 cases of failure on the alternative policy of
engagement. By a preponderance of evidence (190 to 1) it is clear that
engagement with that regime has also been a dismal failure.
In 1961, President Kennedy sent a reasonable message to the
international community that governments that choose to expropriate the
properties of U. S. citizens need to compensate them. Governments that
choose to simply steal the properties of U. S. citizens should expect
some form of retaliation from the U.S. government. That message remains
valid today as an expression of a government's duty to protect the
property rights of its citizenry in countries where the rule of law does
Following the advice of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels that: "If you
tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come
to believe it," the Cuban regime has incessantly promoted the falsehood
that the U.S. embargo is responsible for the dismal state of Cuba's
economy. But it is not the embargo that has pauperized the Cuban people.
The collapse of the Cuban economy can be clearly traced to its communal
ideology and actions when the Cuban Revolution abolished all private
property rights. That experiment resulted in an economically bankrupt
dystopian society featuring an enormously repressive system and a
government with unlimited power over its citizens.
What exactly is it about the embargo that keeps the Cuban government
from allowing economic and political freedoms in Cuba? Allowing economic
and political freedoms is entirely within the domain of Cuba's
government. It is not, in any way, impeded by U.S. policy. Cuba's
abysmal sociopolitical and economic conditions are the direct result of
the failed policies of the Cuban government, and not of the so called
failed policies of the U.S. government.
No diplomatic effort aimed at seeking concessions from an opponent can
succeed if one of the parties elects to give up all its bargaining chips
unconditionally as President Obama's administration is now doing.
Wholehearted abandonment of one's bargaining position is not a logical
basis for constructive engagement. Insisting on legitimate concessions,
such as respect for human rights, is not a moral or practical failure.
The flagship of U.S.-Cuba policy should be the honorable effort-
ineffectual as it may be- to promote civil liberties and political
rights in Cuba. We may not effectively influence that process, but that
does not mean we should unilaterally abandon positions designed to
induce democratic behavior. Diplomatic engagement with an adversary
rarely succeeds by merely appealing to the adversary's higher principles.
In negotiations, when an unconditional concession is given, the
receiving party pockets it and moves on to the next demand. That is
precisely what the Castro government has done, and the Obama
Administration seems to be complying. The United States now sits at the
negotiating table empty handed, and is sure to leave empty handed as well.
Source: It Is Not the Embargo - Misceláneas de Cuba -