January 26, 2021


Joe Biden Should Talk To Cuba Again (JACK ERICKSON, 1/26/21, American Conservative)

A United Nations report from 2018 estimates the total cost of the embargo on Cuba to be $130 billion since its imposition. Sanctions have served to scare away a number of potential Western investors and have damaged Cuba's energy sector, causing repeated blackouts. Moreover, a study by the American Journal of Public Health found that "the embargo is shown to make the supply of essential goods more costly, more difficult, and more time consuming to procure and maintain." Both an ongoing economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic make the procurement of goods such as food, fuel, and medicine all the more challenging. Additionally, recent sanctions by the Trump administration have cut off Havana's third largest source of hard currency by prohibiting most remittances from Cubans residing overseas. While this damages Gaesa, a Cuban military/regime-controlled conglomerate, it also hurts elderly citizens and deprives the state of revenue necessary to import food and medicine.

If, however, economic restrictions were to be rolled back (as the Biden administration has promised) and ties with Havana normalized, it would lead to mutual benefit. A 2017 report on the embargo by the Engage Cuba advocacy group concluded the total loss in annual export revenue by U.S. firms to be $5.9 billion. Thousands of potential American jobs, including in manufacturing, have been lost due to the embargo. Moreover, at a time when American farmers are suffering, Cuba could become an over $1 billion export market for the U.S. agricultural sector. The island imports much of its food and constantly faces shortages. With the island reliant on food imports from faraway countries, the proximity of the United States puts American farmers in an excellent position to profit from reduced trade restrictions. Congress could pass legislation such as the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, which would eliminate barriers to U.S. agricultural export financing. Increased trade would also benefit private Cuban farmers, who constitute a major segment of Cuba's entrepreneurial class.

Furthermore, engagement between Washington and Havana would help to alleviate Cuba's humanitarian crises. As illustrated above, America's sanctions regime has obstructed medical supplies from reaching the island, including during the coronavirus pandemic. Cuba's foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, has stated that the embargo is "the main obstacle to purchase the medicines, equipment and material required to confront the pandemic." A similar sentiment was expressed in a UN condemnation of the embargo, claiming that U.S. restrictions "[prevent] financing the purchase of medicine, medical equipment, food and other essential goods." The Biden administration could not only reverse these restrictions, allowing much needed medical supplies to be imported, but could also end restrictions on travel and tourism, which prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the island.

You don't even need to engage; just lift all our sanctions and tariffs unilaterally and allow free movement of goods and people. 

Posted by at January 26, 2021 12:00 AM