According to a recent (though controversial) poll put out by the Atlantic Council, a majority of Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba. If that’s not true, it should be, because while Cuba remains in the grips of an autocratic socialist dictatorship, the best way to undermine the grip of that dictatorship is for countries like America to normalize relations with Cuba.
If isolating Cuba diplomatically and economically ever made sense, that time has come and gone. Today the island is awash in poverty and suffering, and there’s a great deal America could do to ease that suffering by doing nothing more than lifting restrictions on trade.
We are not Cubans. The citizens of that island nation need to decide for themselves how they want to be governed, and we can all hope that one day they throw off the shackles of socialism and claim for themselves a sort of representative government that protects civil rights and promotes free trade.
Until that day comes, America can set an example by allowing free trade, every dollar of which eats away at the foundation of regime Castro has established.
North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp was recently in Cuba post-Farm Bill with a delegation from Congress set up by Montana Senator Jon Tester. Heitkamp seems to be continuing a push for normalized relations between the US and Cuba that was long a torch carried by former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan. I was often critical of Dorgan on that front, finding myself aghast that we would help a socialist dictatorship by trading with it.
But that was short sighted of me. Dorgan, and now Heitkamp, have the right of this issue. The free market is infectious. Given a taste of the prosperity available when free people are allowed to interact with one another in a free economic environment, Cubans will be far less likely to tolerate the oppression they’ve lived under for decades. And the socialists in charge of the Cuban government will no longer be able to blame the failure of their government on the trade and diplomatic embargoes.
It would be hard for the Castro regime to continue denouncing capitalism even as capitalism improves the quality of life the Cubans who have long lived under the Castro boot.
Economic freedom goes hand in hand with political freedom. It’s time America helped Cuba live more freely.
It should be noted that North Dakota Senator John Hoeven has also been a long-time advocate of restoring trade with Cuba. In 2002 he (then the Governor of North Dakota) became the first state executive in 40 years to visit the country, leading a trade delegation.