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So, you still think there’s an embargo XXXVI

We’ve written for years on the half-assed embargo of Cuba – some things embargoed, some not, states cowtowing to fidel for business, businesses organizing to ship even more to Cuba, and a push to eliminate the requirement at Cuba pay before the goods are shipped.

Now from Net For Cuba

What Cuba Embargo?


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, May 19, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Trade: Many Americans favor ending the trade embargo on Cuba, saying sanctions don’t work and Cubans’ lives will improve. But a recent AP report unwittingly proves that trade only props up the oppressive regime.

Some 34,000 American tourists sneak into Cuba illegally each year, determined to get an “authentic” Cuban experience on Varadero Beach or in old Havana.

In Cuba’s old hotels, they sip daiquiris, a pre-revolutionary Cuban cocktail, like Ernest Hemingway. These travelers kick in a share of the $1.2 billion tourist income to the Cuban economy.

The Associated Press found the experience they get is largely Made In America. The daiquiri mix used in Havana, for instance, is the same stuff you get in an Atlanta fern bar.

The AP also found the Communist Party’s propaganda “newspaper” in the tourist hotel is made from genuine Alabama wood pulp.

Meanwhile, the Cuban bureaucrats who deny that same Alabama newsprint to a free press go shopping in special stores for the party elite brimming with goods stocked from – you got it – Uncle Sam’s empire. Ordinary Cubans get nothing.

The whole tourist experience is bogus, with U.S. businesses telling AP that since Cubans are too poor – making $18 a month, on average – to buy their goods, they want more U.S. tourists to do so.

This shows that what passes for an embargo on Cuba really isn’t one. The U.S. sells $718 million in goods to Cuba through a 2000 legal loophole that permits the sale of food, medicine and lesser-known goods like chemicals, crude materials, machinery and transport equipment, according to the Census Bureau.

The goods do nothing for average Cubans. No, these goods merely prop up the Castro regime through the circular dynamic of tourists and goods. The daiquiris come from the U.S., the tourists follow to drink them, and Castro’s regime skims the profits.

No end to the embargo will stop that, because there is no consumer market for goods or services in Cuba; there’s only bureaucratic distribution. The one thing Cuba’s regime cannot create is a real economy that produces things of value, like tasty daiquiris.

For an authentic Cuban experience, tourists would need to “savor” rationing, shortages, long lines and bureaucratic indifference, because that’s the real product of Cuba’s regime.

The tourist illusion is pernicious, because for outsiders it creates a picture of a nation that only needs goods. The AP report shows that goods are plentiful – or potentially so.

The real problem is communism – not lack of trade. The only people the embargo’s end will help are the party’s oppressive elites.

Their first interest is in perpetrating their hold on power. If U.S. goods and tourists achieve that, then goods and tourists it will be.
* Collaboration: Anolan Ponce

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