Bruce Burleson – October 15, 2017



Sometimes I’m compelled to take a position that is somewhat controversial in conservative or Libertarian circles.  But when it comes to Cuba, that’s what I’m going to do.


For over 50 years, the United States has had in place an economic embargo on the Communist island nation.  The embargo was put in place by a Democratic administration in the hopes that it would drive the Castro brothers out of power.


Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.  Following the death of Fidel Castro, his brother Raul Castro has remained firmly in power. 


To the Cuban regime, the embargo—which they call “the blockade” has served as a rallying point to keep them in power.  Instead of being driven out, every time something goes wrong in Cuba, the Castros have blamed the United States.  Some people in Cuba agree with that, but many are ready for change.


There aren’t many policy positions taken by former President Obama that I agreed with.  However, ending the embargo is one of them.  The president correctly stated that the policy hasn’t worked—and when a policy doesn’t work, you try something else.  But all the Obama administration actually did was establish normal diplomatic relations.  The recent attacks on our embassy staff—using mysterious sonic weapons—would seem to indicate that that alone isn’t going to work.


So, what is the “something else” that we should try?  How about capitalism?  The reality is that the embargo hasn’t stopped foreign investors from operating in Cuba, particularly in the tourism industry.  European tourist companies have for years been investing billions of dollars in Cuba—mainly because in the presence of the embargo they can monopolize tourism and trade.  But in the grand scheme of things, it hasn’t been a windfall big enough to topple the Castro regime.


If we end the embargo, the first thing that will happen is that American companies will invest in Cuba.  A sudden influx of prosperity—and jobs—would make the Castro regime out to be what we’ve long known them to be—a total failure.  The Cuban people aren’t stupid; they know the regime has perpetuated their poverty since 1959.  They’ve searched in vain for decades for ways to get rid of the Castros.  Nothing has worked.


Of course, the prevailing argument is that such investment would only prop up the Castro regime.  However, there’s little evidence of that (since we haven’t tried it yet and it’s in the future), and what’s propped the regime up since the embargo was put into place has been the embargo itself, especially since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.  Many of my conservative friends believed the Cuban regime would also collapse back in 1989.  Well, it’s been 28 years and it hasn’t happened.


So, it’s time to try something different.  Opening up Cuba to American investment is a step into the unknown.  But the status quo continues to fail, so I think it’s time to end the embargo, flood the country with investment, and see what happens.  I think the people would quickly realize they no longer need their Communist overlords to feed, clothe and educate them.  A capitalist market economy does a much better job of that.