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Your Views: US embargo, not communism, is to blame for keeping Cuba poor
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Cuba Today: Those poor Cubans. They once lived under Batista, a corrupt, U.S.-backed dictator who served the interests of a wealthy minority and oppressed the poor. Now they live under the Castro dictatorship, which serves primarily its own interests while oppressing the wealthy.

I suppose the headline "Communism is a failure" (from Sunday's article by Frank Norton Jr.) went over quite well in Hall County. It is both topical and current, considering recent political backlash against President Barack Obama's economic reforms and widely held conservative perceptions that his policies trend toward socialism.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with telling a crowd what they want to hear. Still, there may be some value in going beyond the obvious to determine underlying reasons for that failure.

The headline may be true for Cuba, but it is false in regard to communist China. The difference between China's success and Cuba's failure is a long-standing American trade embargo against Cuba. We have a tremendous trade relationship with China, while we choose to embargo Cuba. Like Norton, I think this policy is both unfair and ineffective.

If Cuba were as big a country and had as large a population as China, we would certainly be doing business with it. Instead, because it is relatively small, we try to squash Cuba as if it were a tiny red bug. On the other hand, we tread very lightly past the red bear of China.

The American decision to either trade or embargo has supported or brought down numerous governments, dictatorships, and even kingdoms. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a success partly because we buy that country's oil. We couldn't easily do without that oil, so political integrity takes a back seat to pragmatism.

Ditto for Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Once he was a dictator we backed and did business with, then his regime failed when we placed an embargo against him for our own strategic reasons.

When evaluating relative success or failure of a government or an economic model it is important to know whether the underlying political and economic philosophy changed prior to a downturn. Saddam's philosophy was consistent in good times and bad. What changed was our decision to cut him off. Likewise, Cuba and China are both run by communist governments, so their philosophy is also consistent. The difference is the American embargo against Cuba, which has only hurt the Cuban people.

I'm no fan of communism, but I am a fan of journalistic integrity. If communism failed in Cuba, it did not fail solely on it's intrinsic economic merits. No, it failed because the U.S. undertook strategic long-term plans to make failure a certainty.

Still, after more than 40 years the Castro government remains secure and only the Cuban people are suffering. In light of this, and in the interest of fairness and consistent economic policy, its time to reconsider our position.

Bruce Vandiver
Lula

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