A letter from Samuel H. Brown of Charlotte, a retired United Methodist pastor | Charolette Observer
Ending embargo would open a market hungry for U.S. goods
It was my privilege to be in a Witness for Peace delegation to Cuba June 20-28. We met with Cuban farmers, health workers, government agencies, a film school, middle school, a builders cooperative and a community of people with AIDS.
People old enough to recall how it was before the revolution are especially proud of the improvements in schools and the medical system. Cuba has more doctors per capita than we do and the literacy rate is 98 percent.
Almost all had a real affection for Fidel Castro and blamed the failing of the communist state on the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
Many upper-class Cubans fled to Florida in 1960 and are bitter critics of Castro. They exert a powerful influence on U.S. policy, giving several million dollars to the campaigns of presidential candidates. They are the primary reason the embargo continues.
The embargo is the main issue between U.S. and Cuba. Medical supplies and equipment are in critically short supply. Schools lack paper and pencils. Computers are old or unavailable. The cars in the street are 1940s and ‘50s models. Spare parts for everything are lacking.
The immediate effect of lifting the embargo would involve cars. They need millions, including tractors and trucks. Nearly all the buildings need painting. Air conditioners, generators—the list is endless. Building materials are an urgent need, especially plumbing supplies.
Someone calculated 20,000 U.S. jobs would be created to serve the Cuban market. The embargo’s cost to Cuba is $800 million per year. That would buy a lot of U.S. goods.
The only reason for continuing the embargo is to stifle a communist economy and punish Castro for his bad attitude toward the United States. It began to prevent a Russian outpost too near our territory and to help try to prevent Cuba from exporting revolution to its neighbors.
It was justified for those purposes, but now the threats are gone and we have a chance to make friends and spread peace in the hemisphere at no cost. Think of it: a creative, helpful policy that would be free!
A Cuban working group in Congress is hoping to lift the embargo, beginning with dropping the travel ban, maybe sometime in July. The Bush administration, however, is moving to make the travel ban stricter.
This is a grim situation, but even more ominous is that this administration is aggressively engaging in provocative action. We openly funnel money to Cubans who oppose the Castro government. There have been 73 Cubans arrested lately, charged with collaboration with the U.S. government to spread anti-governmental information and disinformation. Some were accused of treason. Our government calls those oppressed Cubans our democracy-loving friends, and we continue encouraging more to agitate and provoke Castro.
Ambassador James Cason publishes a list of the individuals and groups to whom his office gives money. Of course, the Cuban government can read it, too, and arrest any of the people any time.
It is a plan to fill Cuban jails and create for us “friends to liberate.” When enough of these Cubans are in distress we will probably make some move to “liberate” them.
If not before, probably when Castro dies (his health is frail), we will “intervene” in Cuba to establish a government more to our liking. The stage is being set. Unless American public opinion is informed and people are concerned to stop it, we will repeat a mistake that we are too prone to make.