cubaflagWhile most of our attention has been fixed on the recently signed Stimulus bill, the U.S. House of Representatives has been quietly making moves to offset some of the country’s economic woes. Last week, former Presidential contender Ron Paul (R-TX) co-sponsored a bill, H.R. 874, to lift the travel and trade embargo with Cuba. As of now, the bill has received some fanfare – though not much – from House Democrats.

I consider it a pretty interesting move at this point in the game.

For starters, Cuba’s labor force makes the country a prime candidate for solid business dealings. With a labor market as high as 60%, and currency worth less than the American dollar (a rarity these days), we stand to get more bang for our buck – so to speak. Then of course, there is the element of tourism. I suspect that many Americans – not completely convinced of Cuba’s devilry – would openly embrace the opportunity to freely visit an exotic and culturally appealing place like Cuba. Obviously, safety will always be an area warranting attention. But for tourists, while crime is not completely an impossibility, it is also not particularly staggering.

House Republicans mostly contend that we should not economically engage with Cuba due to its longstanding history of communism. For them, the notion of spending U.S. dollars in a communist state is just as abhorant as harboring terrorists  less than desirables (can’t say the “T” word around here, right? What was I thinking?). I get that. But strangely enough, it is usually the same people declaring that Cuba should open itself to our democratic way of life. Make sense out of that one if you can.

From my end, lifting trade and travel embargos could introduce Cubans to that democracy we feel they should experience (though, after Bush era, I wouldn’t blame them one bit if they said “Thanks, but no thanks). But if we keep ourselves purposely locked out of Cuba, how can we expect them to ever embrace our way of life?  Granted, ideological imperialism should be the last thing on our minds at this point, but that’s another story.

I’m very interested to see where this goes. Who knows: a Caribbean vacation may be in my immediate future. 🙂

– ACL

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