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    What Cuba Embargo?
    Posted 05/19/2009 06:05 PM ET

    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 experience
    rationing, shortages, long lines and bureaucratic indifference, because
    that's the real product of Cuba's regime.

    The tourist activity is pernicious, because for outsiders it creates an
    illusion 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. – What Cuba Embargo? (20 May 2009)

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