PJ Media

The Cuban Embargo Myth

Currently the U.S. “blockades” or “embargoes” Cuba, right?  Of course. We read and hear about this embargo in every MSM mention of Cuba, most recently from an Obama spokesperson as interpreted by the New York Times:

The Obama administration is planning to expand opportunities for Americans to travel to Cuba, the latest step aimed at encouraging more contact between people in both countries … while leaving intact the decades-old embargo against the island’s Communist government.

Congressional Black Caucus member and frequent Cuba visitor Barbara Lee also chimed in recently: “[W]e can move forward with lifting the travel ban and ending the embargo with Cuba.”

Webster’s defines “embargo” as “a government order imposing a trade barrier.” As a verb it’s defined as “to prevent commerce.”

But according to figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. transacted $710 million worth of business with Cuba in 2008, and has transacted more than $2 billion worth of business with Cuba in the last decade. Currently the U.S. is Cuba’s biggest food supplier and 5th biggest import partner. Furthermore, the U.S. has been Cuba’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid including medicine and medical supplies for decades. All this together with the almost $2 billion a year in remittances sent from the U.S. ranks our nation right between Red China and Hugo’s Venezuela as a Castro business partner.

The term “travel ban” (against Cuba) seems pretty self-explanatory, right?

But last year Cuba received 200,000 visitors from the U.S. — legally. Global Travel Industry News reports that another 200,000 Americans visited Castro’s fiefdom illegally.

And remember, during the 1950s Cuba was a “playground” for American tourists who inundated the island, right? Of course. We learned this from that famous documentary on Cuba, The Godfather.

But according to figures from Cuba’s Banco Nacional, during the 1950s an average of 185,000 Americans visited Cuba annually.

Let’s step back for a second and consult our calculators:

During the 1950s, Cuba enjoyed its status as “tourist playground,” especially for Americans — 180,000 U.S. tourists and another 20 to 30 thousand from Canada and Europe.

Today, while suffering a crushing “U.S. blockade,” Cuba has 400,000 U.S. tourists along with 2.2 million Canadian and European tourists annually, while the U.S. serves as her second biggest trading partner, including remittances.

Loudly  chanted  within  the anti-embargo mantra of the Congressional Black Caucus, U.S. farm lobby, and Castro lobbyists is the notion that the embargo has “failed.” In fact, few U.S. foreign policy measures have been as phenomenally successful as our limited sanctions against the Stalinist robber-barons who run Castro’s regime.

First off, for the course of three decades the Soviet Union was forced to pump the equivalent of almost ten Marshall Plans into Cuba. This cannot have helped the Soviet Union’s precarious solvency or lengthened her life span.

Secondly, the U.S. taxpayer has been spared the fleecing visited upon many others who reside in nations who eschew “embargoing” Cuba. To wit:

Nowadays the so-called U.S. embargo merely stipulates that the Castro regime pay cash up front through a third–party bank for all U.S. agricultural products; there is no Export-Import Bank (U.S. taxpayer) financing of such sales. Enacted by the Bush team in 2001, this cash-up-front policy has kept the U.S. taxpayer among the few in the world not screwed and tattooed by Fidel Castro.

Here are a few items regarding the so-called embargo studiously side-stepped by much of the MSM, the U.S. farm lobby, and Castro lobbyists:

Per-capita-wise, Cuba qualifies as the world’s biggest debtor nation with a foreign debt of close to $50 billion, a credit rating nudging Somalia’s, and an uninterrupted record of defaults. In 2007, one of the world’s most respected economic forecasting firms, the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit, ranked Cuba as virtually the world’s worst country business-wise. Only Iran and Angola ranked lower. This firm predicted that Cuba’s abysmal business climate would remain that way for the next five years, at the very least.

Standard & Poor’s refuses even to rate Cuba, regarding the economic figures released by the regime as utterly bogus.

In 1986, Cuba defaulted on most of its foreign debt to Europe. Three years ago, France’s version of the U.S. government’s Export- Import Bank (named COFACE) cut off Cuba’s credit line. Mexico’s Bancomex quickly followed suit. This came about because the Castro regime stuck it to French taxpayers for $175 million and to Mexican taxpayers for $365 million. Bancomex was forced to impound Cuban assets in three different countries in an attempt to recoup its losses.

Last year the Castro regime suddenly froze $ 1 billion held in Cuban banks by foreign (mostly Spanish) businessmen. “Cuban banks informed depositors that they had no foreign exchange to back up the convertible peso in which many were doing business,” explained the Reuters Havana bureau. Spain’s criticism of the U.S. “embargo” has recently become much shriller.

The anti-“embargo” mantra from CNN, the U.S. Rice Producers Association, and Castro lobbyists also stresses that a flood of rich Western tourists will magically smother Cuban Stalinism, whereupon the island nation will quickly mutate into a bigger (and more historic and picturesque) Cozumel. This reasoning seems to go something like this: rewarding and enriching the KGB-trained and heavily armed guardians of Cuba’s Stalinist status quo will magically convert them into instant opponents of that Stalinist status quo.

As two decades of such tourism have amply proven, any trickle of foreign currency that reaches the Stalinist regime’s subjects (primarily from prostitution) is offset a thousand-fold by the millions ($2.4 billion last year, for instance) crammed into the regime’s military and secret-police coffers.

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