Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Leverage? Change? Unlikely.

From The Washington Post:

Addled by Fidel

By Eugene Robinson

"... People, we have no leverage in Cuba. If we had any, we'd have managed to move the Cuban government an inch or two toward democratic reform in the past five decades. ..."
Click here for the full story.

I used to think the embargo was an unarguably stupid policy. After all, it's been almost 50 years since it was first implemented, and it has had a very minimal positive impact (if any). It has given Castro a scapegoat with which to blame Cuba's relatively poor economic periods.

Recently however, after reading articles in the news, talking with friends, many who have lived on the island, I started to re-evaluate my hardline stance on ending the embargo. After all, the term "leverage" has been thrown around by Obama almost as much as "change." I started thinking maybe there was some merit to keeping the embargo, especially given Obama's recent policy changes, which included lifting travel restrictions for Cuban Americans with family on the island, allowing for US citizens to help pay the cost of owning and operating a cell phone, and removing restrictions on trade for US telecom companies. Maybe he could somehow leverage the embargo with the Cuban government to get them to release political prisoners, or maybe allow freedom of speech (and thought...)?

But after reading this article, I'm again wondering if we are really just fooling ourselves into another 50 years of inaction.

Recently, Castro has been quoted as saying that we (the US) should lift the embargo... but I don't think that's what he actually wants. He's bluffing. He's calling us out. Because he surmises that Obama isn't going to do it. Because if Obama lifted the embargo, the ball would be in Cuba's court. The onus would be on the Castro brothers. What's holding Cuba back know? Certainly wouldn't be America, los imperialistos. I feel like I'm starting to just rewrite the article... go read it for yourself.

And don't hold back... share your thoughts!!

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