I am very much for free trade and the exchange of goods and services between states. It helps to ensure peace between peoples and often brings higher quality and lower cost products to market, thereby raising the quality of life for the average person. But it’s hard to see what advantage opening things up with Cuba gives us right now. We certainly shouldn’t be legitimizing the regime. At the very least we should have waited until Castro died.
Also why are we saving Cuba’s lunch? Venezuela is dying thanks to the bottom falling out of oil prices. Venezuela finances much of the Cuban economy. Now would be a time where we should be dictating very strident terms to the island nation. Cuba is running out of money. And we are about to give these guys, and they are communists, a new infusion? It doesn’t make much sense to me.
Don’t get me wrong, though I am for free trade I am not for intervening in the affairs of other nations, which we did quite a lot in Cuba. But this regime should be hung out to dry, not rewarded.
Unlike the above bipartisan critics, the leader of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the new Cuban policy. Its CEO Tom Donohue stated that the “U.S. business community welcomes today’s announcement, and has long supported many of the economic provisions the president touched on in his remarks” and continued “the Chamber and its members stand ready to assist as the Cuban people work to unleash the power of free enterprise to improve their lives.”
Free enterprise indeed improves lives. Free trade also works wonders to bring people and countries together. But trade managed by communist oligarchs can hardly be defined as free trade. An economy where all the key decisions are made by men in uniform can’t be described as free enterprise. Echoing the Chamber, a powerful German think-tank, the Bertelsman Foundation, published a piece which concludes with a typical modern-day capitalist statement “who knows, maybe the US will be able to export a few more Che Guevara tee-shirts along the way.”