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The Cuban Embargo Destroyed Americans’ Freedom

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Amidst increasing speculation that President-elect Trump is going to reverse the Obama administration’s attempts to normalize relations with Cuba, this would be a good time for Americans to start pushing back against any further destruction of their rights and liberties at the hands of their own government. A good place to start pushing back is by standing firm in favor of a lifting of the decades-long failed, deadly, and destructive U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

In the Declaration of Independence, a document whose principles Americans celebrate every Fourth of July, Thomas Jefferson observed that everyone has fundamental, God-given rights with which no government can legitimately interfere.

Economic liberty falls within the category of fundamental, God-given rights. It holds that everyone has the right to engage in economic enterprise, the right to enter into economic exchanges with others, and the right to keep the fruits of one’s earnings. In fact, economic liberty is part of what the pursuit of happiness, to which Jefferson referred in the Declaration, is partly all about.

What Americans must come to realize is that the Cuban embargo is not just an attack on the economic well-being of the Cuban people. First and foremost, it is an attack on the economic liberty of the American people.

Here is how the embargo works. The federal government effectively tells Americans: “The federal government hereby prohibits you from investing or spending your own money in Cuba. If you do it (without our permission), we will hunt you down, arrest you, have you indicted by a federal grand jury, try you, convict you, incarcerate you, and fine you.” All for exercising the fundamental, God-given right to spend your own money the way you wish to spend it.

Statists say: The government has to do this because Cuba is a communist regime.

But the question every American must ask himself is: Why should I have my freedom infringed or destroyed simply because the Cuban government is infringing or destroying the freedom of its citizenry?

Moreover, everyone knows that the embargo, which has been in place for more than 50 years, has totally failed to alter the communist system in Cuba. That means that for more than 50 years, the U.S. government has infringed or destroyed the economic liberty of the American people for nothing.

But even if the embargo had been successful in altering the political and economic system in Cuba, Americans must still ask themselves an important question: Is that worth sacrificing their own fundamental, God-given rights at the hands of their own government? Does that particular end — an alternation of another government’s system — justify the loss of freedom of Americans here at home?

There is another factor to consider: Is disdain for communism really a motivating force for the Cuban embargo?

After all, consider Vietnam, a country that is also run by a brutal communist regime, one that, in fact, killed more than 58,000 American men. The U.S. government doesn’t maintain an embargo against Vietnam and Americans are free to travel there and trade with the Vietnamese people. That’s the way it should be. The matter of communist and socialist tyranny in Vietnam is the business of the Vietnamese people, not the business of the U.S. government.

Some people say that the U.S. government should negotiate the lifting of the embargo by demanding that the Cuban government stop jailing dissidents, censoring speech, and prohibiting elections.

Three questions arise: Why are such things the business of the U.S. government? Why should Americans sacrifice their own rights and liberties just because the U.S. government wants to fix the situation in Cuba? What are the chances that the sacrifice of American rights and liberties will pay off, given that the embargo hasn’t worked to achieve such things in 50 years?

Moreover, is U.S. government disdain for tyranny really a motivating factor for its decades-long embargo against Cuba? Consider Egypt, which is run by a brutal military dictatorship. The Egyptian government is every bit as tyrannical as the Cuban government is, if not more so. It censors speech, jails dissidents, and prohibits elections, and its centrally planned economic system is a mirror image of the Soviet Union’s socialist economic system. Yet, the U.S. government has long embraced and generously supported the Egyptian military dictatorship with money and armaments in order to assist it in maintaining its iron grip on power.

If disdain for tyranny were really the motivating factor behind the embargo against Cuba, then how does one explain the U.S. government’s ardent support of tyranny in Egypt ?

There is no doubt that people around the world are suffering from the absence of freedom. The best way to help them is by example — i.e., to show them how to achieve freedom. A good place to start restoring economic liberty to our land would be by lifting the freedom-destroying economic embargo against the Cuban people. It’s simply a question of whether and how badly the American people want to be free.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.