Latin America & Caribbean

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End the Embargo Now

by William Ratliff, Roger Fontainevia Hoover Digest
Sunday, July 30, 2000

Who is the biggest beneficiary of the U.S. embargo against Cuba? Hint: His first name is Fidel. Hoover fellow William Ratliff and Roger Fontaine explain why the time has come to bring the embargo to an end.

A Strategic Flip-Flop in the Caribbean

by William Ratliffvia Analysis
Wednesday, March 1, 2000

For almost three decades the U.S. embargo of Cuba was part of America's cold war strategy against the Soviet bloc. It should have been lifted after that ‘‘war’’ ended since Castro ceased to threaten the United States and its neighbors and adopted the standard rules of international behavior. But inertia, a powerful Cuban American lobby, and misguided politicians set new demands: democracy, improved human rights, and economic reform. When Castro demurred we tightened the sanctions in 1992 and again in 1996 with the Helms-Burton Law. The United States has never committed the resources necessary to overthrow Castro, however, and the pressures we have applied have utterly failed to advance the three objectives. Worse yet, in the post–cold war world the policy and political outlook that sustain it have become a strategic liability. They promote conflict, both within Cuba—where a crisis might draw in the U.S. military—and abroad, as occurred in 1999–2000 after the arrival in Florida of the rafter boy, Elián González. They allow pressure groups to stand in the way of the policy-making process of the U.S. government. For example, the lobby manipulated wishy-washy politicians in 1998–1999 and got the president to turn down a widely supported proposal for a bipartisan commission to conduct the first comprehensive evaluation of the policy in four decades. Finally, the imperialistic Helms-Burton Law alienates allies worldwide and will poison relations between the United States and Cuba for decades to come. Castro will benefit no matter what we do, but on balance he gains more if we maintain the sanctions because they provide a scapegoat for his own repression and economic failures even as they enable him to maintain his cherished global image as the ‘‘scourge of U.S. imperialism.’’ Castro can wage a worldwide campaign against the embargo to bolster his image knowing Washington is too inflexible to change it. Indeed, whenever Washington has lightened up, Castro has tightened up and effectively prevented further improvement. Lifting sanctions need not mean establishing friendly relations with Castro—which he would reject in any event—or supporting his efforts to get international aid without meeting standard requirements. The ultimate responsibility for maintaining this antiquated and potentially dangerous policy falls on politicians who either do not understand the need for, or for political reasons are afraid to support, a new policy to benefit both Americans and Cubans in the post–cold war world.

Neglecting Latin America

by Timothy Charles Brownvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, January 30, 2000

Latin America matters more and more to our own interests. So why does our government all but ignore it? By Hoover fellow Timothy Charles Brown.

Flying Down to Rio

by Robert J. Barrovia Hoover Digest
Saturday, October 30, 1999

Recently Hoover fellow Robert J. Barro traveled to Brazil to assess the country’s economic policies. He was not impressed.

From Seattle to Santiago, Let the Dollar Reign

by Robert J. Barrovia Hoover Digest
Friday, July 30, 1999

Hoover fellow Robert J. Barro endorses a plan that could bring much-needed economic stability to Central and South America. ¡Viva greenbacks!

New Thoughts about Fidel

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Saturday, January 30, 1999

Three former secretaries of state, including Hoover fellow George P. Shultz, recently called for a commission to rethink American policy toward Cuba. Hoover fellow William Ratliff greets the idea with three cheers—and a first order of business: lifting the embargo.

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The High Cost of Castro

by Peter Brimelowvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, July 30, 1998

How much have Fidel Castro’s economic policies cost the people of Cuba? Hoover media fellow Peter Brimelow reviews the numbers. It might be time to offer the world’s worst manager a golden handshake to retire to Spain.

Another Country

by Michael Baronevia Hoover Digest
Thursday, July 30, 1998

Hoover media fellow Michael Barone first visited Argentina a dozen years ago. When he returned recently, he discovered that he was in another country—one that free markets had transformed.