Cuban democrats and rights activists are criticizing a report on National Public Radio, in which interviewer Steve Inskeep allows senior foreign ministry official Josefina Vidal to assert that democracy assistance to the island’s beleaguered dissidents amounts to external regime change and that the regime’s curbs on the internet and freedom of expression are due to the US trade embargo.
NPR failed to note or to realize, notes one observer, that Vidal is a career spy with the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence who was expelled from the US in 2003 mass expulsion of over a dozen spies masquerading as diplomats.
Unilaterally repealing the embargo would not weaken that tyranny by flooding the island with American tourists, consumer goods, and democratic notions, as sanctions opponents romantically imagine,” notes the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby:
3 million tourists already visit Cuba annually, hundreds of thousands of Americans among them. In recent years, more tourists have traveled to Cuba from the United States than from any other country except Canada.
The trade embargo is far from hermetic. Since 2000, US exporters have sold close to $5 billion in food, agricultural, and medical goods to Cuba — for several years, in fact, the United States was Cuba’s fifth-largest trade partner. Meanwhile, Cuba has had the rest of the world to do business with, unfettered by embargoes or Florida politics.
“If tourism and trade were going to undermine Cuba’s communist regime, it would surely have toppled long ago. But engagement with totalitarians doesn’t turn them into free and democratic neighbors,” he notes. “Rather, it empowers them to crack down on their subjects with even greater impunity.”