U.S. foreign policy has long held Cuba in a special category. In an attempt to oust communist dictator Fidel Castro from power, our government has led a campaign of economic isolation designed to speed the “removal” of Castro from the island nation a scant 90 miles from Florida.
Since its inception, this policy has achieved nothing.
Perhaps it’s because of Castro’s embrace of communism after his revolutionary triumph. Perhaps it’s lingering rage from the missile crisis. Perhaps it’s the political clout of the Cuban exile community. Whatever it is, whatever is the source of this seething hatred of Castro and communist Cuba, it’s not working. Fidel remains and shows no signs of losing his grip any time soon.
So, what can be done?
The Cold War is over. We won. The Cuban people keep losing nonetheless. It is imperative that we shift our Cuba policy from isolation to economic engagement and integration into the global economy.
It is only through participation in the rough-and-tumble but profitable marketplace that Cubans will realize the tremendous opportunities — and lives — wasted during Castro’s decades of iron-fisted rule. Perhaps then, the revolution our foreign policy has long sought to spark will actually happen.
And why should the Mississippi business community care? Besides the humanitarian aspects for the Cuban people, Mississippi could find itself in a position to capitalize on the opening of a Cuban market — both from exports as well as a shipping point for goods from around the country.
Quite simply, an economic relationship between Cuba and Mississippi would expand our businesses’ and industries’ roles in the ever-growing global economy, which would be of benefit to all of us.