Florida Senate: Wrong on Cuba

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On March 24, Florida’s State Senate voted 39-1 to condemn recent moves by president Barack Obama toward normalizing US relations with Cuba.

There’s no nice way to put this: Those 39 state senators voted in favor of maintaining the Castro regime in perpetuity. They voted against freedom for 11 million Cubans. Incidentally, they also voted against the economic interests of all Floridians and against reunification for Florida’s families of Cuban descent.

Freedom is a virus. Wherever free people go, they spread the desire for freedom to those less free than themselves. That desire is infectious. It’s also deadly to authoritarian regimes.

For 55 years, the US government has quarantined Cuba via embargo. That quarantine didn’t prevent the spread of authoritarianism from Cuba to other parts of the world (see, for example, Nicaragua and Venezuela). It just prevented the spread freedom to Cuba.

We’ve seen this effect, and its opposite, elsewhere. The obvious pairing to demonstrate the claim is China versus North Korea. China has become progressively more free over the decades in which it has enjoyed normalized relations with the US. Not completely free by any stretch of the imagination, but much freer. North Korea, under sanction and embargo, remains an utterly totalitarian state.

In Cuba, the embargo’s beneficiaries are the Castros and their henchmen.

In America, the embargo’s beneficiaries are moneyed interests who don’t want to compete with Cuban sugar, cigars or tourist destinations, as well as generations of “anti-Castro” Cuban emigre politicos who procure donations and US government grants to think about and talk about overthrowing the Castro regime … with no prospect of ever actually doing so, and no desire to see it done unless the transition puts them, and only them, in power in Cuba.

In Cuba and in America, everyone else is a victim, not a beneficiary, of the embargo.

It’s time for Cuban students to start attending America’s universities and for Cuban farmers to start selling their goods in America’s markets.

It’s time for American tourists to start visiting Cuba’s beaches and for American engineers to start improving Cuba’s infrastructure.

It’s time for Florida and Cuba alike to gain the advantages of new nearby trade partners (Tampa is closer to Havana than it is to Atlanta).

It’s time to end the quarantine and spread the freedom virus.

If Florida’s politicians won’t lead on this issue, they should at least get out of the way.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

  • Babette Plana

    Bravo to the Senators! The letters to Congress from Cuban exiles and freedom advocates are having an impact. Every single point Mr. Knapp makes in this article can be refuted and rendered fallacious. Obama’s meetings with Castro were unethical, ill-conceived, nontransparent, and plain wrong. Trade with countries such as China and Vietnam has not produced civil liberties or introduced democratic reforms. The people there are exploited and oppressed. Obama wants to do the same in Cuba. He rewards a ruthless dictatorship with dollars. The irony: U.S. taxpayers will be footing the bill through taxes when Castro defaults on payments. Foreign investment and tourism in Cuba entrenches and increases the repressive machinery. Read the testimonials of Cuba’s dissidents and exiles, and get informed. There is no greater witness. You will not get the truth with the Obama administration. Transparency does not exist in this administration.

    I commend the Senators. Bravo!! Freedom for Cuba; NOT continued exploitation and misery. Complicity with dictatorships is unethical. Let the malevolent Castro dictatorship implode!


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  • Glenn Hopkins

    I agree allowing this regime to remain is not in the U.S. best interest. I’ve fought in Afghanistan with some guys whose beliefs are mind boggling, Iraq has gone to hell and Maliki was turning into what we attempted to get rid of. I’ve been to African countries where a 8 year holds a AK. Relations with Cuba is one of the few smart things the U.S. has done. We have a foothold in a country that Russia would aid, and give fuel for future Intel, and military operations. I was injured during the Afghanistan surge in 2009, I refused to reenlist as long as this man became President. The Army is nothing close to what it was before and during the Bush era. I’ve killed under a Democrat, and Republican. Ignorant people believe that Bush was responsible for the recession. Five trillion could have been paid off by now. Obama gave money to the Muslim brotherhood and bas fractured relations with partners in the Middle East to the point they are playing ball with the Russians. Dem’s are the reason we have ethanol in our car which suits no purpose and Gore admitted this. I have conservtive and liberal views. Yes I care about owning a gun whether it be a musket or a AR15. I can kill large numbers of people at 1,000 yards just as I can up close. I believe in the constitution and made a oath to God to defend it. Kruschev said we cannot expect Americans to become communist overnight, but we can feed them socialism in small pieces to where they will one day be. My father was forced to live out his last days because of the joke of affordable health care has brought to us. I have to wait a month to be seen at the VA when I tore my MCL. One percent of the U.S. Has fought in the GWOT. Only now Obama has defined OEF Phillipines, OEF HOA, OEF Afghanistan. We are destabilizing other continents such as Africa for what? Clinton was not the Isolationist people think he was. OKC bombing, first World Trade Center bombing, USS Cole, Somalia, and Yugoslavia where he sent weapons to the Muslims covertly through the CIA after being told it was wrong. He had eyes on UBL. It’s time for a black president, and a woman President. I wish Condaleeza Rice would run. MLK Jr. was a republican Lyndon Johnson passed the bill for African Americans which Nixon was very much in favor of. This is why the black majority vote democrat. If only they knew that Dem’s brought the KKK into being they would think otherwise. Who will teach them this though? I rather a Bush as opposed to another Clinton, or Kerry. I watched good men die in Iraq to see what it is now. Look at the economy of Japan, Germany, and South Korea by maintaining a presence. China is what they are because they will make our products for us. That is commucapitalism. I served my country to only see shame. Romney was scolded for saying are biggest Geopolitical for is Russia. I tried to explain this to someone and they called me a liar!!! Americans are becoming ignorant and allowing our constitution to be pissed on. Excuse my rant.