Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The U.S., Cuba and leverage

José Cárdenas at Shadow Government argues that the prisoner release in Cuba should not prompt a change in U.S. policy.  He ends with a rhetorical flourish, but one that is--as often is the case with embargo supporters--devoid of critical detail:

Rewarding the regime for a self-serving tactical maneuver that could be reversed at any time would be counterproductive and a waste of the leverage the United States does possess to push for fundamental reforms in the best interests of all 11,000,000 Cuban political prisoners.

What is this mysterious leverage we have?  The embargo laws and all their corollaries are supposed to exert the necessary pressure "to push for fundamental reforms," but they clearly have not done so.  If anything, they have benefited and continue to benefit the Castro regime greatly, because they offer an indefinite excuse for anything that goes wrong with the economy, and they are a global PR bonanza for the Cuban government.

Let's stop pretending about leverage, because we don't have any.  Fidel Castro has played embargo supporters like a fiddle for a very long time.


leftside 8:34 PM  

Obama needs to deliver something relatively quickly, otherwise he will be exposed as (newsweek said) "the unhappy gambler whose bluff was called."

After all, just a couple months ago Obama echoed his earlier focus on the plight of the "political prisoners" and said "Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people."

In short, Cuba delivered the one concrete thing that Obama said he wanted. Ball in Obama's court.

leftside 8:38 PM  

While I understand Greg's point about the embargo, et. al not having achieved anything in 50 years. I think it is an overstatement to pretend like Cuba does not care about the travel ban, the Adjustment Act (wet foot dry foot) and the blockade. Getting rid of these things is arguably Cuba's number one foreign policy objective, considering the amount of time and effort they spend to bring the issue up in international fora.

US policies deprive Cuba of $1-2 Billion dollars a year - far from chuimp change in a Cuba. One can argue that the promise of a relaxed policy from the US/EU and Catholic Church is what heavily influenced Cuba's move. Therefore there is an aspect of leverage inherent in US intrangisent policies. Cuba wants them gone and the US can dictate terms. Cuba has certainly learned to get by without any US trade or travel but Raul is more pragmatic than Fidel and understands the value of a dollar.

Anonymous,  9:14 PM  

One well placed cruise missile would go a long way in freeing Cuba.

leftside 7:05 PM  

Anon, you are a sick person for to advocate assasination. You are also an idiot for thinking that a US strike on the Castros (presumably) would do anything but further get the people behind the Revolution. Even the most radical of the small number of people on the island who would want to get rid of the Castros would not want the US to interfere.

Anonymous,  9:19 PM  

killing a dictator is an act of mercy.

a couple of cruise missiles would free millions in Cuba.

You are the sick one for supporting a dictator.

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