Paul Jacob

Well, Cubans suffer from a kind of apartheid. Everyday citizens get ration cards, and yet their food shelves are bare. Until fairly recently, most were not allowed to visit tourist beaches, shop at tourist supermarkets, or eat at tourist restaurants. They had to make do with the meager provisions they’ve been rationed by the benevolent hand of their much-lauded leaders. Meanwhile, the waiters, hotel maids, and musicians earned 30 times or more in the resorts than they would had they “worked” for the government. Like most Cubans.

So much for the abolition of the class system by Castro!

In a sense, the resorts are free trade zones, the kind of things we used to talk about in America 20 years ago. But Cuba is stuck on socialism, and any time you set up a free trade zone, it doesn’t take long to see the utility of spreading the zone out, to cover the whole country.

To feed Cubans, just one thing is needed: Freedom. That is, an end to socialistic apartheid. Allow trade in anything peaceful, starting with ration cards and tourist goods. Let markets spring up wherever people have goods to offer. The tourist apartheid just shows the superiority of trade to socialism. The socialist country needs trade — and dollars, which were legalized with the tourist industry — because socialism just doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. Can’t. It’s time to ’fess up to socialism’s failure, and allow markets to do what they do best: Feed the people, build civilization.

What Cuba needs is a new revolution. It’s the government that must change. This has little to do with the United States, and everything to do with the ruling family, the Castros. They should allow freedom. Or they should be gotten rid of.

There’s no reason to wait for the U.S. to come flying in, like some cargo cult concierge-in-chief.

It may be that were the U.S. to let free trade flower between the two nations, the growth of market activity would spur the population to oust the men who, now, make their lives such misery. There are good reasons why former Secretary of State George P. Shultz called the modern era’s longest running embargo “insane.” The embargo sure seems to have had the opposite effect to what was intended. Could it be keeping Cuba polarized against the U.S., and in that way helping Cuba’s tyrants maintain power?

Whatever we North Americanos can do or attempt to do, what Cuba needs remains obvious: An end to all vestiges of Communism, of the Castros, and of anything else — beginning with “c” or not — that prevents a return of private property and the rule of law.

It’s a pity that a video that could be used to such good effect against the Castro regime is being used (by some) against the United States. Not because we can’t take it, but because there is just no reason to let Cuba’s so-called leaders off the hook. 

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.