Sen. Norm Coleman has an excellent piece in the Miami Herald about why he no longer supports open trade with Cuba. As he puts it:
I continue to believe that both tides of change are inevitable. Thanks to the brave efforts of people such as Payá and others, Cuba will change someday. And I am equally certain that the United States one day will lift its embargo and travel restrictions.
I want to go back to Cuba. I want to enjoy its beautiful beaches and to engage its welcoming people. I want two million Americans tourists to spend money in Cuba and lift up its economy — but not while Chepe, de Miranda and many others serve unjust prison sentences for seeking freedom.
The United States should end its embargo on Cuba when the Cuban government ends its embargo on its own people.
Castro, let your imprisoned dissidents go — and when you do, I will gladly join the chorus of people seeking to end the travel ban and trade embargo.
What Coleman saw clearly effected him, and given the horrible human rights record in Cuba that is not terrifically surprising. However, there is still a persuasive argument that says that the best way of liberating the Cuban people is through a policy of constructive engagement. However, the economic issue is only one issue.
Fidel Castro is not viewed as the tyrant that he is by many in the world. Governments in South America and Europe have given him a legitimacy that he does not deserve. So long as this continues, Cuba will not change regardless of our trade policy towards that nation.
Until Castro’s regime is treated with the same sense of moral outrage that was placed on the Soviet bloc by brave dissidents like Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Pope John Paul II the situation in Cuba will not change. Castro is a tyrant, and deserves condemnation for being so. Unless pressure is put on Castro, any benefits of trade will go towards reinforcing his regime rather than helping the Cuban people.