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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 Arkansans certainly aren't getting anything out of this outdated policy.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?

Editorial on 11/16/2018

Print Headline: Cuba Libre!


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Archived Comments

    November 16, 2018 at 4:33 a.m.

    As one who speaks Spanish and spent three weeks in Cuba, actually living with Cubans for a while on a 'barracks' sailboat, I can tell you this editorial is spot on. Cuba truly is "a grim, gray workers' (police) state. To me, the worst part is that our embargo continues to give the pigs in charge of the 'Animal Farm Island' the perfect scapegoat they need to hide behind. They can blame all the misery and want on us, using the "if only" argument: "If only the embargo were not in place, etc." This is pure nonsense of course because the severe central state control system, like that in the former Soviet Union, is the picture of inefficiency and corruption. Most Cubans still have to rely on the black market to keep body and soul together because the state ration stores, as one Cuban friend told me, "does not even provide enough rice for my children." Those who continue to argue for the embargo, like Mario Rubio and other Cuban-American hardliners are simply too close to the issue and too emotional to make rationale decisions, other backers (like Tom Cotton) simply don't know the true reality on the island because they have never been there and don't speak the language. Our embargo and continued aggression actually help repress the democratic forces in Cuba. Removing the embargo would knock the shaky props from under the rusty, creaky dinosaur that is the Cuban state today. And as this editorial correctly acknowledges, reducing our hostile stance toward the island would actually undermine the communists, just as Perestroika did in the USSR.

  • 23cal
    November 16, 2018 at 7:55 a.m.

    Did pigs just fly and Hell just freeze over? I could swear that both the ADG and Rick Crawford just gave Obama credit for something while denigrating Trump on the same topic. Of course that part of the article was played gently and quietly so it could be easily missed, but I swear it was there.

    Will wonders never cease?

  • Knuckleball1
    November 16, 2018 at 8:55 a.m.

    I just had a conversation with some people from other countries this past week including a Cuban American that has dual citizenship on this very topic. Both Parties are to blame for letting the Cubans in South Florida because of their vote keep us for doing business with Cuba.

    More good and the message of freedom in the US could be spread by our products being sold in Cuba. It would give the Arkansas Farmers another needed market.

    President Obama was well on his way to opening those markets, but because the Toddler in the White House did not like anything that the former President did, he started cancelling everything he could and it didn't matter if it was good or bad...

    I am truly surprised that Crawford is coming out against his leader and the other so called member of Congress from this State. We already know Bozeman is only taking up space and Cotton looking for every camera and microphone he can find.

    The embargo might have been a good thought but after not working after a few years should have been put in the trash and other policy of selling to the Cubans put in place. It has always amazed me that we sell to China and Russia but not to Cuba.... We allow travel to China and Russia but not to Cuba.... in part because it will make the Cubans in Florida mad and they will change their vote...

    I was taught that the Folks in Washington were supposed to take care of the Country First, then worry about their state.... That stopped happening a long time ago....They only worry about the money they can rake into their pockets or connections for a future job when they decide to leave office and to Hell with America and the Citizens of the USA and their State.

    Ok will get off my soap box

  • PopMom
    November 16, 2018 at 9:12 a.m.

    Yes. This editorial and Bluewaterman’s comments are spot on. I was there last week. There is so much beautiful architecture from the 1920s and before which is rotting away because communism doesn’t work. Maybe we should send Ocasio-Cortez down there for an economics lesson. The Cuban government does blame everything on the embargo. Let’s sell the Cubans some rice!