Cuba Libre!

Cuba Libre!

Published by: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

It’s no secret that agriculture makes up a good chunk of our state’s economy. We keep growing food, and folks in other states and countries keep eating it. (Amazing how that works.) But farmers in Arkansas are a bit restricted at the moment when it comes to one particular market: a police state of note in a certain island country a few miles south of Florida’s coast.

In 2014, then-President Obama normalized relations with Cuba and ended decades of a policy that wasn’t working. It was a move that received mixed reviews at home, particularly because the brutal government in charge of that communist beach “paradise” was still kicking. Different names and faces, same policies. Fidel is dead, and his crumbling little empire isn’t feeling so well itself. Leave it to Communism to take an island of fruit and rum, of flowers and tourism, of beautiful people and sailing, and make it a grim, gray workers’ state.


But many Americans looked forward to a complete lifting of the embargo, too. With diplomatic recognition should have come Walmarts, right? Cuba Libre! This nation took a few steps in that direction under the last commander-in-chief. But many capitalist hopes were dashed in November of last year when President Trump reversed the business and travel rules his predecessor enacted.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, who represents most Arkansas farmers in the Delta, recently spoke up on this issue, tweeting, “The embargo against Cuba has been in effect for almost 6 decades and has done little to achieve its purpose of weakening the repressive Cuban government. It’s time we stop denying our farmers access to the Cuban market.”

He has a point. This country has tried to isolate Cuba’s government and embargo it to death, but still it remains. What, pray tell, is the benefit of continuing the embargo? Arkansans certainly aren’t getting anything out of this outdated policy.

We already sell an overwhelming amount of rice to one communist nation with a government that suppresses free speech, if not free thought, of its people. What’s the difference in the United States selling rice to Red China and selling to Cuba? Other than leftover Cold War emotions?

If we want to continue to push for government reform in Cuba, that’s the American way–but we can do so without blocking opportunities for Arkansas farmers.

Rep. Crawford is working on a bill to address Cuban exports, the Latin American News Agency reports. We’d encourage the rest of our congressional delegation to get behind Mr. Crawford’s efforts.

Let’s see if the embargo on trade with Cuba can be lifted, along with that government’s embargo on free thought. Trade can be liberating. So can rubbing elbows with those living free in an open society. Remember what happened when Comrade Gorbachev thought he could apply just a little cosmetic Glasnost and Perestroika, openness and reconstruction, to the Soviet system? Result: Goodbye, Soviet Union and General Secretary Gorbachev with it. Communism with a human face, that contradiction in terms, turned out to be no Communism at all.

And what a wonderful world that would be. Other false faiths, fascism notably, have fallen in the face of freedom before. Communism should follow soonest. Perhaps with a little help from free trade, free people, and Arkansas rice. Why not find out?

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