The US Gummint has been throwing a temper tantrum for fifty years. Like most tantrums, this one is not based on any rational thought process. Basically, the Government of the United States of America has been holding its breath until it turns blue because the people of Cuba decided to run their own political destinies.
This half-century snit-fit has outlasted nine US presidents, proving once and for all that bureaucracies have institutional memories and are resistant to change. The worst part of this idiotic exercise of pique is the complete lack of logic. The US has normalized realtions with Vietnam after a shooting war which killed seventy thousand US miltary personnel, so why won’t we talk to Cuba? Vietnam is half a world away. Cuba is literally right next door. Furthermore, there are lots of practical reasons for opening normal relations with Cuba, not least of which are humanitarian concerns for the people of Cuba. Increasing trade with Cuba would enormously improve the plight of the average person there. Americans would visit the country for business and pleasure, bringing in tons of cash to the local economies. Cubans would be able to purchase better equipment to rebuild their infrastructure, which would attract yet more tourist and investment dollars. With enough economic cooperation, Cuba might start to open up the way China has. It should be a win-win scenario.
Politics trumps everything else, as usual. Florida has a disproportionate amount of influence over presidential politics. Would-be presidents will never risk losing Florida by alienating the large Cuban exile community in Florida. This community is still dominated by those who left Cuba in the wake of the Revolution and their immediate descendants. These exiles hate the current Cuban government- partly because of the loss of properties in the wake of the Revolution. As a result, we might be stuck with this insane policy for another couple of decades- until the last of the exiles dies of old age and the newest generation grows up in the US and has no personal memory of Cuba.
Here are a couple of practical reasons why it would be in our best interests to open relations.
- Sugar. It is really difficult to grow sugar cane in the continental US. Cuba exports sugar. We could make cheaper biofuels from sugar cane than from corn, and sugar cane (unlike corn) is not a primary foodstuff. We could get rid of high fructose corn syrup in our soft drinks and go back to sugar, which tastes better.
- Booze. This is related to the sugar issue. Cuba makes some world-class rum, which is illegal to import to the US.
- Cuban women are hot.
- Baseball. The best baseball players in the world come from Cuba. The quality of play in professional baseball will get better, and adding a Couple of teams in Cuba could make the so-called “World Series” have some meaning.
American investment in Cuba would (in my opinion) have a far greater political effect than the Embargo. The US would benefit in many ways from normalizing relations with Cuba, and Cuba would benefit enormously.
So why aren’t we doing this?
Current status: perplexed
Current music: DOA by the Foo Fighters