The half-life of rage against Fidel Castro is roughly fifty-three years, give or take a generation and then some.
An annual poll released this morning by Florida International University revealed that the majority of Cuban Americans now favor an increase in economic involvement in Cuba. For decades, policy analysts have blamed the importance of the Cuban-American vote in swing-state Florida as the reason politicians refused to touch the Cuban embargo. Now that the key voting bloc is leaning toward a more free-market approach to Cuba, opposition to the embargo is no longer a politically unviable position to take. Right?
Wrong. A new political blockade has arisen. Senators Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez, both Cuban-Americans, still cling to the notion that lifting the embargo will make achieving democracy in Cuba more difficult and cede more money and legitimacy to the Castro regime.
Observing China, it seems more likely that an influx of free enterprise will force a slow shift to a regulated mixed-market economy, which is communist only in name. Furthermore, the standard of living for Cubans would rise as more economic choices are afforded to them in the form of new consumer goods, increased tourism, and foreign investment.
Of the 1,000 Miami-Dade Cubans surveyed, 70 percent said they favored lifting all travel restrictions. However, the poll found that older Cubans do favor more sanctions.
Interestingly, 63 percent of Cuban Americans favor keeping Cuba on the U.S. terror list with Iran, Syria, and Sudan. This suggests that while Cuban Americans are unwilling to let Castro off the hook as a human rights abuser, they are frustrated by the ineffectiveness of the embargo and Castro’s stubbornness and ostensible immortality. Yet countries on the terrorist list are still subject to paralyzing financial sanctions.
If President Obama wants to leave one good mark on the world, here’s his chance. The political stars have aligned. Obama’s foreign policy is as consistent as D.C.’s swamp-style weather. Given his bungled track record with Syria and Ukraine, he has nothing to lose.
There is no good political or economic reason to continue the embargo aside from pride and ignorance. But in our government, those are powerful and ubiquitous forces.