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CRF Blog » Blog Archive » How Business Can Change Cuba

CRF Blog

How Business Can Change Cuba

by Bill Hayes

In How Business Can Change Cuba for Bloomberg Businessweek, Tom Padgett argues that loosening restrictions on trade with Cuba will over time bring democracy to the island nation.

[A] powerhouse group of four dozen U.S. political, business, and military leaders advised President Obama in May to relax Washington’s 52-year-old trade embargo against Cuba. Even career conservatives such as John Negroponte, President George W. Bush’s intelligence chief, signed the letter urging Obama to use executive powers and “help Cubans increase their self-reliance.” Among its recommendations: Lift the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba, allow U.S. investors and NGOs to fund Cuban micro-enterprises, and let private U.S. and Cuban businesses import and export goods to each other.

Hard-line Cuban exile leaders are furious at this approach — or the suggestion that anything short of an exile-led reconquista will change Cuba. Cuban American Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami called it a “pathetic” trend that would “give the communist thugs more money with which to repress.” Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another Cuban American hard-liner, accused U.S. Chamber of Commerce boss Tom Donohue of handing the Castros a “propaganda coup” by making a “misguided” visit to Cuba as the letter was sent to Obama. [more]