In reading the recent letter “With Emmer on Cuba’s side, I will vote differently,” I was struck by the profound inaccuracies and unrealistic representations of recent developments.
Numerous polls show the overwhelming majority of Cubans support improving relations with the U.S. and believe that the embargo should be eliminated. According to a poll published in the Washington Post, 96 percent of Cubans hold this position. This is because the embargo has hurt the very people it claims to be helping — the average Cuban.
In a recent report the U.N. General Assembly calculated that the embargo has cost Cuba more than $117 billion over more than 50 years by limiting economic growth on the island and hurt local living conditions. For decades, Cubans have seen these American sanctions as partially responsible for their stagnant conditions and have wanted the benefits that would come from economic engagement with the U.S.
Furthermore, the claim that businesses will not be able to make profits in Cuba has no grounds considering foreign businesses operating on the island for 25 years do so successfully. In fact, 4,500 companies from over 100 countries do business in Cuba.
As American firms see European, Chinese, and Latin American countries investing in and benefiting economically from their businesses in Cuba, they are increasingly lobbying for an end to the embargo. A key business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is working in support of congressional efforts, including 6th District Rep. Tom Emmer’s legislation.
Emmer’s bill is in line with what human rights groups, the majority of the American people, the majority of Cuban Americans, the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people, and businesses view as in the best interests of both of our countries. Kudos to Emmer, who acknowledges that it is time to stop clinging to a failed policy stuck in the past and try something new.
By Gary Prevost, St. Cloud Times
August 19, 2015
The author is a professor of political science and Latin American studies at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.