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S., become attracted to the U.S. And flee the country. Cuba certainly needs to prevent a brain drain at all costs. It could do so by encouraging the U.S. To invest in its infrastructure and for U.S. doctors to train and learn at Cuban facilities, which, by all accounts, have some of the highest standards of excellence in the world (Schoultz, 2010, 8). By helping to build up the Cuban infrastructure, further economic trade could be encouraged. This could also help both the U.S. And Cuba exploit its other natural resources by providing the necessary framework for extraction and export of its huge nickel and sugar stockpiles.
With the coming economic recovery, the world will certainly need raw materials like nickel and steel as well as sugar to fuel the building and population boom that will more than likely follow a recovery. The political ties that bind the current U.S. And Cuban administrations from doing business in a time of need for both nations are rather archaic and unnecessary. Certainly both countries can benefit from open trade in their own way, and the rest of the world would likely benefit from more trade within this region as well. A healthy Cuba means more than just a healthy economy and economic ties with the U.S. It also means progress toward better human rights standards and a shift from the Bush-era ways of thinking about good vs. evil nation states.
The Council on Foreign Relations (Hanson, 2009, 2) report cites Cuba as a major violator of human rights in the Western Hemisphere. The UN takes a similar stance, citing Cuba's 2003 rounding up of over 75 political dissidents for speaking out about the government and current state of affairs. If the U.S. is truly committed to improving human rights and economic relationships around the world, as the UN certainly is, it is important to recognize that with increased governmental transparency in Cuba vis-a-vis a more open trade policy with the U.S., human rights violations are far less likely to occur or to be tolerated. In fact, the U.S. could use its economic ties and relationship to help persuade Cuba to discontinue its policies that endanger human rights. The current trade policies that the U.S. operates under encourage further human rights violations by not encouraging political transparency (Coll, 2007, 202). From the U.S. perspective, conditions trade could be stipulated to encourage improvements in the human rights regulations or lack thereof in Cuba. It is an excellent opportunity to show the world how committed to this cause the U.S. really is.
From Cuba's Perspective
The opening of trade between the U.S. And Cuba is not just about a U.S.-centric view on the world and the benefits likely to be had by the larger economy (Schoultz, 2010, 11). From Cuba's perspective, such a move is just as inflammatory politically and certainly represents a potential for anti-U.S. attitudes to flare up once again. However, since Cuba no longer has the backing of a major superpower like the Soviet Union, it can no longer level the same threats it once could (Coll, 2007, 200). From Cuba's standpoint, the potential to harm the U.S. has passed and the indecisiveness and political dynamite that exists surrounding this issue is no longer supported by a standing army or threats of a nuclear holocaust. In other words, Cuba no longer has any bite to aid in backing up its bark. It is time for Cuba to change its stance as well, since it has much to gain from an open trade relationship with the U.S. Certainly the Castro regime has been reluctant to open up trade with the U.S. For fear of a massive brain drain and social and political collapse. But in an age when information can circle the globe in less than a second, it is impossible to stop the impending changes from happening to Cuba. The major question for the Cuba leadership is whether or not this change will come in its terms or the rest of the populations'.
The opportunity is ripe for the Cuban regime to begin to mold its perception of the outside world and its future relations on its terms, which could prevent another revolution or breakdown of the social and political fabric of the nation. This is where the U.S. And the UN could make a serious impact if they encouraged a shift in the Cuban regime's way of thinking and dealing with its own population as a reward for opening up trade with the United States. This is another arena where human rights could benefit from a powering down of sorts of the political and social attitudes and walls that have been built up by the Cuban regime over the past 55 years. From the perspective of Cuba's leadership, opening its trade relations with the U.S. is in its best interests given that the power it currently holds over the population is not going to last forever in an age of free information and global trade relations (Coll, 2007, 203). From Cuba's leader's perspective, it would be in the best interest for the regime's individuals as well as the people of Cuba to begin to slowly open up trade between the U.S. And Cuba while simultaneously helping the Cuban population to assimilate into the global social culture that has arisen over the past 50 years of isolationism. This isolationist attitude has kept over 11 million people from enjoying the fruits of globalized trade and opportunities within the U.S. And abroad (Griswold, 2005).
Lost Opportunities and U.S. Political Structure
Author Griswold (2005) also points out that not only are U.S. And Cuban families losing out in the trade embargo but U.S. farmers and U.S. citizens are also paying a high price for the archaic political machinations of the Cold War era policies. In 200, the U.S. Congress voted to modestly open the trade embargo. This came in the form of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, which allows cash-only sales to Cuba of U.S. farm products and medical supplies. The results of this action have been positive for both nations. Since 2000, total sales of farm products to Cuba have increased from virtually zero to $380 million in 2004. From dead last in U.S. farm export markets, Cuba ranked 25th in 2005 out of 228 countries in total purchases of U.S. farm products. In 2005, Cuba became the fifth largest export market in Latin America for U.S. farm exports. American farmers sold more to Cuba in that year than to Brazil. The U.S.'s leading exports to Cuba are meat and poultry, rice, wheat, corn, and soybeans (Griswold, 2005). This is promising for the future of trade relations between the countries and shows that progress can be made, at least economically or from a business perspective when embargos are loosened. Another interesting potential for the U.S. To retain part of its political power would be to stipulate that Cuba become more democratic after the embargo was lifted. This stipulation could help engender a more positive attitude towards Cuba from those in the U.S. who may still be concerned with the political attitudes of the small island nation.
Griswold (2005) goes on to highlight an even more promising link between the U.S. And Cuba. He points out that in 2005 the American Farm Bureau estimated that Cuba could potentially grow to become a $1 billion dollar agricultural export market for products of U.S. farmers and ranchers. "The embargo currently kills another $250 million in potential annual exports of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and tractors. According to a study by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the embargo costs American firms a total of $700 million to $1.2 billion per year. Farmers in Texas and neighboring states are among the biggest potential winners. One study by Texas a&M University estimated that Texas ranks fifth among states in potential farm exports to Cuba, with rice, poultry, beef and fertilizer the top exports." (Griswold, 2005). These studies further prove that the U.S. And Cuba are hurting their own economies by keeping their attitudes toward free trade rigid and stagnant. These are just a few examples of the lost economic opportunities that are currently occurring due to the imposed trade embargo and blockade of Cuba. Perhaps these studies will also serve to help shift the attitudes of the U.S. political machine, which have been set in stone, so to speak since the 1950's.
Cuba's tourism industry is huge as well, as previously mentioned. But the United States has been unable to tap into this industry since 1959, creating a huge demand for U.S. tourism within Cuba that could be successfully exploited to both the U.S.'s and Cuba's advantage (Sharpley and Knight, 2009, 244). The Cuban tourism industry would no doubt bring U.S. dollars to Cuba, but many of these dollars would make their way back to the U.S. And to other countries that are currently heavily invested in the Cuban…[continue]
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