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The Cuban Embargo

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In its October 11 Sunday edition, the New York Times published an editorial calling for the lifting of the 45-year-old Cold War-era economic embargo against Cuba. The Times pointed out,

Over the decades, it became clear to many American policy makers that the embargo was an utter failure. But any proposal to end the embargo angered Cuban-American voters, a constituency that has had an outsize role in national elections.

Among those who got upset this time by the proposal to lift the embargo was Robert Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who wrote a letter of objection to the editor.

Mendendez says that President Obama shouldn’t “waste finite diplomatic resources on a country that abuses human rights and diametrically opposes our democratic ideals, at a time when the Islamic State is waging brutal war and Russia continues to undermine all international norms through its continuing invasion of Ukraine.”

What “diplomatic resources” is Menendez talking about? All that Congress and Obama have to do is unilaterally lift the brutal Cold War-era embargo that has been enforced against the Cuban people for 45 years, with the aim of causing the Cuban people so much suffering that they would finally oust Fidel Castro from power and install a pro-U.S. dictator in his stead, like Fulgencio Batista, the pro-U.S. Cuban dictator who preceded Castro.

Obviously, the embargo still hasn’t achieved its goal. So, not surprisingly, Menendez, along with other Cold War dead-enders, wants the policy to be continued. Undoubtedly, when Castro finally dies, they’ll say his death confirms the success of the embargo.

Moreover, in pointing the finger at the Cuba’s communist regime regarding human rights abuses, Menendez conveniently ignores that he’s got three fingers pointing back to himself and other members of the U.S. government.

Is he not aware of the kidnapping, torture, rendition, and indefinite military detention scheme that the U.S. national-security establishment has been waging for more than a decade? In fact, isn’t it ironic that the U.S. government’s premier torture and indefinite detention center is based in Cuba itself, at a facility whose “judicial” system mirrors that of Cuba, given its denial of speedy trial, trial by jury, and due process of law?

What exactly does Menendez mean when he refers to “our democracy ideals”? Is he referring to the U.S. government’s support for the brutal military regime in Egypt that has destroyed the country’s experiment with democracy and is currently brutalizing protestors with U.S.-provided bullets and torture chambers? Or is he referring to the U.S. government’s coups in Chile, Guatemala, and Iran, which ousted democratically elected rulers and installed brutal dictatorships in their stead? Or is he talking about the many partnerships that the U.S. government maintains with other brutal dictatorships, including the one with Saddam Hussein, who U.S. officials furnished with those infamous WMDs so that he could use them to kill Iranians?

Is Menendez unaware that ISIS is a direct consequence of the chaos produced by the U.S. government’s invasion and war of aggression against Iraq, a country whose government never attacked the United States?

Surely Menendez is aware that it was NATO, a Cold-War era military organization that includes Germany, the nation that invaded Russia in World War II, that has continued to gobble up former Warsaw Bloc members since the end of the Cold War until the organization reached Russian borders, which not surprisingly, generated another national-security crisis, which now means more big money to the U.S. national-security establishment.

Menendez says that U.S. contractor Alan Gross “remains imprisoned on false charges.” Oh? I thought he remains imprisoned for violating long-established Cuban law against people participating in U.S. regime-change operations in Cuba.

That’s also what the Cuban embargo is all about — regime change. That’s what the Bay of Pigs invasion was all about — regime change. That’s what the U.S. government’s assassination attempts against Castro were all about — regime change. That’s what the CIA’s terrorist attacks within Cuba were all about — regime change.

The fact is that Menendez and his cohorts just cannot rid themselves of their 45-year-old obsession with trying to get regime change in Cuba.

And it’s not like there is an ideological dispute here. As a Republican, Menendez favors Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, welfare, income taxation, education grants, and other core features of Castro’s socialist system.

It’s about control, not ideology. Menendez and other national-security types want desperately to put their puppet at the helm in Cuba. They just can’t let go of their obsession with controlling Cuba, no matter how much suffering they inflict on the Cuban people in the process.

Menendez points out that increasing numbers of people are risking their lives by fleeing to the United States in rafts. Well, duh! That’s what people do when faced with starvation. So what does Menendez want to do? He wants to squeeze the Cuban people even further, increasing their misery and suffering, by continuing a brutal embargo that only reinforces the misery and suffering of Castro’s socialist system.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s not forget that the Cuban embargo is a direct attack on the economic liberty of the American people at the hands of their own government. Any American who dares to spend what is supposedly his own money in Cuba is arrested, prosecuted, fined, and jailed, not by Cuban officials but by U.S. officials, thanks to the glorious embargo that Menendez is so proud of.

It’s time for the American people to send this cruel, inhumane, and immoral Cold War relic into the dustbin of history, not only for the sake of the Cuban people, but also for the sake of the moral values and economic liberty of the American people.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.


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