The Obama administration has made a giant stride in what could be the biggest diplomatic victory in recent memory by reestablishing connections with Cuba. There’s no reason why the embargo should remain enforced and by cooperating with the Cuban government, the United States can make bank and subtly encourage Cubans to explore the possibilities of pursuing a more direct democracy.
After more than 50 years of trade embargos, strict isolation to the Communist Island, and sour tensions over the Cuban missle crisis, the United States issued an intense trade embargo that has been documented as the most enduring embargo in modern history and it’s clear that such policy is officially a remnant of cold wars past.
By opening up and easing trade with Cuba, the United States can facilitate the commerce that American companies have been eager to pursue (The auto mobile industry is an appropriate example, Cubans have become experts at replacing old car parts due to our embargo of sending replacement automobile parts to them, The United States could also pursue automobile competition with The Chinese, who now hold most of the automobile trade)
On a separate front; opponents of renewed Cuban relations argue that by endorsing trade between the two governments, the United States would be officially forgiving and ignoring the human rights abuses committed by the Castro administration against the Cuban people. Opponents also argue that our trade with the Chinese government hasn’t made them any less repressive, so the same result cannot be expected to be reached in Cuba, and that the hopes of instilling a democratic mindset into the Cuban people through economic activity is a “long-term play”
This idea is understandable, but flawed to a certain degree. If history has taught us anything- it’s that the ideal “American mindset” that we’re raised with is an appealing thing not only for our citizens domestically, but for foreigners and hopeful emigrants abroad.
A “longer-term play” is better than no play at all. Right now there are more invigorated protesters and freedom fighters in China than probably ever before. It isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that our economic cooperation with them has influenced the political mindset of most Chinese citizens to the point that many of them feel that democratization of their country is inevitable – and while this might not make the government “less repressive” – it will and has lessened the government’s ability to tame the wishes of their people, which democracy never hopes to limit.
Trade has the potential to open immigrants to the wonders of our democracy. What we’re seeing is the beginning of increased economic activity and ease of tension. What we can hope for is the beginning of the Cuban people’s liberation.
And it could all start here.