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Lift the Cuban Embargo


NEWS FLASH: The Ron Paul Institute and The Future of Freedom Foundation are co-hosting a conference on U.S. foreign policy in Charleston, SC, on Sunday, April 29, from 1-5 pm. Speakers: Ron Paul, Dan McAdams, Richard Ebeling, and Jacob Hornberger. Details here.


Why does the U.S. government insist on maintaining its half-century old economic embargo against Cuba? What’s its justification for intentionally inflicting economic harm on the Cuban people?

Is it because Cuba is ruled by a communist regime? So what if it is? Why should that be a justification for intentionally inflicting harm on the Cuban populace? After all, does the U.S. government maintain an economic embargo against Vietnam? Against China? Those two nations are also ruled by communist regimes. Why no economic embargo against them?

Is it because Cuban government is run by a dictatorial regime? So what if it is? Why should that be a justification for intentionally inflicting economic harm on the Cuban populace? The U.S. government doesn’t maintain an economic embargo against Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, all of which have governments that are unelected dictatorships. In fact, the U.S. government actually partners with and supports those unelected dictatorships along with many others. Indeed, historically the U.S. government has enthusiastically favored unelected dictatorships, sometimes even destroying democratic governments and replacing them with brutal and vicious unelected dictatorships. Iran, Guatemala, and Chile come to mind. For that matter, so does Cuba. Don’t forget that the U.S. government loved and embraced Fulgencio Batista, the brutal and corrupt unelected dictator who Fidel Castro and other Cuban revolutionaries ousted from power in 1959.

So, why single out the Cuban people for an economic embargo when the U.S. government has a formal policy of installing, partnering with, or supporting brutal and corrupt unelected dictatorships around the world?

Is it because Cuba has a socialist economic system? So what if it does? Why should that be a justification for intentionally inflicting economic harm on the Cuban populace? Anyway, is Cuban socialism really that much different from American socialism?

Consider healthcare. In Cuba, everyone gets free healthcare. In the United States, seniors and poor people get Medicare and Medicaid. And there are plenty of Americans calling for the federal government to provide or guarantee healthcare for everyone, just like in Cuba.

Consider education. In Cuba, people get free state-provided schooling through college. Here in the United States, everyone gets free state-provided schooling through high school. Moreover, the federal and state governments subsidize many U.S. colleges and universities.

Consider the Federal Reserve and fiat (i.e., paper) money. They have the same thing in Cuba.

Consider public housing. It is a big socialist program in Cuba. Also here in the United States.

Income taxation? In both countries.

Occupational licensure and other economic regulations? In both countries as well.

So, why should Cuba’s socialist economic system serve to justify the intentional infliction of economic harm on the Cuban people when it is not much different in principle from America’s welfare-state system?

Is it because Cuba poses a threat to U.S. “national security”?

That was certainly the justification for the economic embargo from the time that Fidel Castro took power in 1959 through the ostensible end of the Cold War in 1989. U.S. officials, led by the Pentagon and the CIA, steadfastly maintained that because communist Cuba was situated only 90 miles away from the United States, it posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

But that was a lie, sham, charade, and racket from the very beginning, no different from the notion that the North Korean communists and the North Vietnamese communists were a threat to U.S. “national security.” Whatever meaning one wishes to attach to that ludicrous and nebulous term — “national security” — the notion that communist Cuba posed a threat to the United States was always laughable and ludicrous. It still is today.

Cuba is a small, impoverished country. Like Panama, Grenada, Guatemala, Iraq, or any other Third World country, it wouldn’t stand a chance in a war against the most powerful nation in history. It’s also worth noting that Cuba has never attacked the United States. It has never engaged in terrorism or sabotage in the United States. It has never assassinated or tried to assassinate anyone in the United States.

In fact, it has been the U.S. government that has done all of those things to Cuba. It has always been the Cuban government that has had to defend itself against invasions, assassinations, sabotage, and terrorism at the hands of the U.S. national-security establishment. It has always been the U.S. government that has been the threat to Cuban “national security,” not the other way around.

So, why the economic embargo against Cuba?

Two reasons.

One, ever since the U.S. government was converted to a national-security state after World War II, the U.S. national security establishment (i.e., the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA) has needed official enemies to justify the conversion, its continued existence, and its ever-growing budgets. That’s what the Cold War fearmongering was always all about. The communists (e.g., the Russians) were coming to get us. The dominoes were falling in Southeast Asia. Cuba was a communist dagger pointed at America’s neck from only 90 miles away. Communists were infiltrating the federal government, the army, Hollywood, and the civil rights movement. The United States was in grave danger of going Red. Only the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA could save us, with ever-expanding budgets of course.

It’s no different today. Whether the official enemy is Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Syria, ISIS , terrorists, Muslims, drug dealers, or illegal immigrants, the idea is to keep Americans deathly afraid that someone over there is coming over here to get them.

Two, ever since the Cuban revolution Cuba has refused to kowtow to the U.S. government. If Fidel Castro had, from the beginning, agreed to bend the knee and become a loyal and subservient ally within the U.S. Empire, there never would have been an embargo, U.S.-sponsored assassination attempts, sabotage, or terrorism within Cuba or any other U.S. regime-change operations against Cuba. Like with other U.S.-supported dictatorships, the Castro regime would have been given a free hand to do whatever it wanted inside Cuba, just as Batista was. Castro’s decision to remain independent of U.S. control is what sealed, through the embargo, the fate of the Cuban people.

It’s time to lift the cruel, inhumane, and brutal U.S. economic embargo against the Cuban people. After more than a century of U.S. interventionism against Cuba, it’s time for the U.S. government to just leave Cuba alone. There is no moral or legal justification for the U.S. government’s intentional infliction of economic harm on the Cuban people, and there never has been one.

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.