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Special Editio from the Free Enterprise Foundation, Issue #08-9-- More Thought Provoking Commentary!
April 28, 2008
You are invited to read the latest commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation. It will make you think!
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
Maintain Trade Embargo on Cuba
Monday, April 21, 2008
I enjoyed reading Brian Hicks' recent articles on Cuba and share the sentiments of most Americans, including Cuban-Americans, who are looking forward to the time when our former closeness will be re-established.
I share, however, the strong sentiments of many Cuban Americans and their relatives on the island who continue to support America's insistence on substantial Cuban civil rights progress before dismantling the statutes that restrict trade and the free flow of American travelers with the island.
In making these comments, I write with two decades of involvement in my prior life as general counsel and secretary of the U.S. Cuba Business Council, which though now defunct, represented many of our largest U.S. corporations in Washington on Cuba issues. I also served for nearly 15 years as Washington counsel for the largest U.S. sugar refiner and still serve as an advisory director on the Miami Medical Team Foundation in its humanitarian work on the island and elsewhere.
I visited Guantanamo during the height of the internment of thousands who were desperate to reach our shores and the freedom we offered. I have witnessed firsthand the devastating injuries these desperate people inflicted on themselves in the hope that they would be airlifted to the United States for treatment.
Though this occurred some years ago, nothing will erase those images from my mind and will not remove my solidarity with them and their struggle for freedom and a better life for all Cubans.
As revealed by your article, the "U.S. blockade," which Cuba claims exists, is not a blockade at all. There is virtually a free flow of U.S. agricultural products and medical assistance, and emergency aid has long been permitted.
Goods the island needs are freely available from markets around the world, and to the extent that trade terms can be agreed on, Cuba can get anything it wants.
Many companies engage in that trade but are careful to look for assured payment as Cuba is a notorious credit risk. This fact has been long noted by Canadian companies that found out the hard way when they rushed to the island in the early 1990s.
Cubans are united only in their thirst for freedom and their misery under the failed policies of the current tyrannical regime.
I have never understood the romance associated with this regime. Even today, it systematically targets "pre-unlawful" activity of young people who are fed up with the repression under which they live. Cuba continues to brutally and systematically repress dissent in its society. It has incarcerated many of its citizens for speaking out on their belief in and desires for democracy and has tortured and starved those who actively oppose its tyranny. It has made clear that it will resist departure from the controls of "the special period" with all means at its disposal.
As for trade, our partner would be this very same state. It will insist on payment in dollars at par, but it will pay its workers in pesos. As for wanting thousand of U.S. tourists, I would be greatly surprised if U.S. tourists would be permitted by Cuba in enough numbers to force Cuba to come to terms with the reality of its failure.
In sum, though profits in the long run are promising, in the short run, it should be against our policy to enable with our dollars even one day more of Cuban tyranny over its people. The restrictions should remain.
Copyright © 2008 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr. is President of The Free Enterprise Foundation. He is a Visiting Professor, at The Citadel and elected in 2005 to be their first John S. Grinalds Leader in Residence. A regular contributor to the Mercury, He can be reached by E-mail at The Citadel . Copies of his earlier columns can be found The Free Enterprise Foundation.
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