May 17, 2009

Cuba and Chrysler

In the news this past week was Chrysler’s dropping over 700 dealerships and GM’s planned non-renewal of agreements with over a thousand dealers. I also happened to see a CNN report on Cuba this week, although, since I really wasn’t actively watching the television at the time, I’m not too certain about the content of the report.

Juxtaposing thoughts of Cuba and failing car companies gave me an idea. Why not sell new Chrysler automobiles to Cuba? Cuba is a natural trading partner, yet the U.S., alone among the world’s countries, has maintained an embargo on trade with the Caribbean island. Clearly, however, President Obama does not share the mindless commitment to this senseless policy the U.S. has pursued for half a century.

Who hasn’t seen the TV reports of the privations of ordinary Cubans resulting from our embargo? Who hasn’t seen the antique American cars plying Cuban streets and maintained with duct tape and bailing wire? And Cuba’s government today is neither better nor more democratic as a result of America’s foreign policy.

After so many years, perhaps the American economy needs the Cuban economy as much as the reverse. Creating a new trading partner with a huge backlog of needs just 90 miles from our shores could give our ailing economy a significant boost.

Isn’t it time to admit that the Cuban trade embargo has been a colossal bust, and that allowing aging, angry Cuban exiles—isn’t it time we called them immigrants?—to dictate our foreign policy is, and never was, a good idea? Lifting the embargo could be a win-win strategy for our two nations. Let’s just hope that the Cuban government isn’t so angry with us that it would decline to deal with us because of our longstanding and pointless hostility all these years.

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