Here’s Why Republicans Oppose Ending The Cuba Embargo

Yesterday, President Obama announced his plans to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, which has been the subject of a trade and travel embargo since October 19, 1960 — two years after the overthrow of the Batista regime. The embargo was enacted largely due to Cuba taking Russia’s side in the Cold War and being a Communist nation. Sort of!

Actually, a very large part of the reason was that the United States government loved them some Batista. Sure, he killed and tortured a lot of people, but those were poor people. The wealthy landowners loved him, particularly because he eliminated a lot of pesky civil liberties like the right to strike. The American Mafia also loved him. During his dictatorship, he was willing to turn his nation into a delightful tourist destination for American travelers (see: “Guys and Dolls”) at the expense of the poorer people of his nation — and, most importantly, was willing to play ball with the big U.S. oil companies.

Castro? Not so much. Not at all. Basically, he told the big oil companies they could go fuck themselves. Unsurprisingly, this did not make him a lot of friends over here. For years throughout the Cold War, the U.S. attempted to overthrow him, even going so far as to attempt to put botulinum toxin in his cigar (I know you’ve heard TNT, and that was certainly discussed, but they came much closer with the botulism).

Now, you’d think that — given that the Cold War has been over for over 20 years, and we’ve normalized relations with every other nation — it would barely make sense anymore to continue this bullshit with Cuba. Since 1992, the United Nations has issued a resolution every year opposing it. Nearly every human rights organization on the planet opposes it. Probably most people under 30 have no idea why it even exists in the first place.

And yet, many United States Republicans are still fiercely opposed to ending the embargo. In fact, 2016 Presidential contender (FML) Jeb Bush issued a statement yesterday on his Facebook page actually suggesting that we strengthen the embargo:

The Obama Administration’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba is the latest foreign policy misstep by this President, and another dramatic overreach of his executive authority. It undermines America’s credibility and undermines the quest for a free and democratic Cuba.

The beneficiaries of President Obama’s ill-advised move will be the heinous Castro brothers who have oppressed the Cuban people for decades.

I am delighted that Alan Gross has been released. It will be a joy and relief for his wife and family to have him home this Hanukkah season. He is innocent and should never have been in prison in the first place, nor spent five long years there as he suffered in poor health. It is, however, unfortunate that the United States chose to release three convicted spies.

Cuba is a dictatorship with a disastrous human rights record, and now President Obama has rewarded those dictators. We should instead be fostering efforts that will truly lead to the fair, legitimate democracy that will ultimately prevail in Cuba.

Oh sure. I am very sure that Jeb Bush is very concerned about the well-being of the Cuban people. Just not the ones who are actually living there. The people he’s concerned about are the Cubans in Florida.

You see, many of the exiled Cubans who came to America to flee Castro were those who were the wealthy landowners before the revolution. They want to be able to go back to Cuba and reclaim their property from the poors who are now living there. They believe that this will happen when the Castro brothers are overthrown. They are also a huge voting bloc in Florida. The fact that Florida is a swing state is the reason why both parties have, at times, gone above and beyond to try to appease them. Their votes matter, and their votes were a lot of what put Jeb Bush into office in Florida.

Jeb Bush and others want people to think that the reason they oppose normalizing relations with Cuba is because they care so deeply about human rights, hate Communism and hate dictatorships.

Need I remind you that this is the party that’s been trying to justify our own use of torture over the last month, and insisting that it was “effective” when it very much was not.

Need I remind you that China is also a Communist nation with a far more horrific record on human rights, and they are our number one trade partner.

Need I remind you that the U.S. has been ever so fond of befriending vicious dictators when it has suited us. Pinochet, Manuel Noreiga, Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and more.

Oh. And this guy! Coincidentally posing with Jeb Bush’s brother, George W.

That’s Islam Karimov. He’s the dictator of Uzbekistan. His hobbies include selling Uranium to the United States of America and boiling people to death. Boiling people. To death. But he’s totally one of our good buddies, because Uranium.

Quite frankly, as far as dictators go, Fidel and Raul Castro are two of the least horrid. At the very least, everyone there has health care, and free education. Shit, they’ve got the best medical schools on the planet. And they’re free! I would argue that they are at least better than Batista.

This is not to say I am cool with human rights violations in Cuba, or anywhere. I am obviously not. However, it’s a little odd that Republicans like Jeb Bush are perfectly fine with us torturing people, with other countries torturing people, with other countries being Communist, with other Communist countries torturing people, and with other, even more ruthless dictators — and yet somehow, when it comes to Cuba, they care deeply about all these things. Personally, I’m not buying it.

[NY Times]