The possibility of renewed U.S.-Cuba relations makes one wonder something about history: has opening up a communist country’s market led to more freedom for its citizens?
The Fiscal Times claims that new interaction with Cuba could result in over $4 billion worth of exports from the U.S. to Cuba. This is a large increase in products going into Cuba’s economy.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has suggested that there is an issue with growing Cuba’s economy through renewed U.S.-Cuba relations. He claimed that it may only enrich the Castro government rather than weaken it.
On the other hand, the White House recently made a statement advocating for renewed U.S.-Cuba relations. It suggested that making more American products available in Cuba might “make it easier for Cuban citizens to have access to certain lower-priced goods to improve their living standards and gain greater economic independence from the state.”
President Obama seems to believe that increases in economic activity could increase freedom for Cubans, even if it is only economic freedom.
Freedom House notes that the former Central European Soviet countries experienced “an immediate embrace of free-market principles” in the late 1900s after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They then “moved quickly to build stable democracies.” This could show that creating a more open economy can diminish the influence communism has in a country.
But Dr. Brad Epperly, a Political Science professor at the University of South Carolina, stated that the European situation was different because, among other things, there were many “differences in the Cold War-era world” from today. This and the fact that Cuba is not very influential on the world stage “is why even Nixon’s opening with the People’s Republic of China is probably not a good analogy” for renewed U.S.-Cuba relations.
Perhaps Cuba’s future is unpredictable even though there are modern historical examples. This leaves predictions about the outcomes of renewed U.S.-Cuba relations to pure speculation.
One thing is for certain though: the U.S. embargo on Cuba “has been completely unsuccessful,” according to Dr. Epperly. The only way for the U.S. to help Cubans gain their freedom, it seems, is to try another strategy.