Planting a seed in Cuba to grow economy
Justin M. Napolitano
Free trade with Cuba can open doors to capitalism, a guest columnist writes.
I am not the biggest fan of columnist Charles Krauthammer, but I respect
his ability to present his views. I can’t say that I agree with much of
what he wrote on Jan. 4 (“Avalanche of nylons hasn’t stretched democracy
in Cuba”), because by every measure, we have accomplished little or
nothing in economically isolating Cuba.
The thought was that through this isolation, Castro and his communist
regime would fail, and the Cuban people would demand more economic
freedom and the ability to own private property and businesses.
Unfortunately, that has not happened.
Does Krauthammer, or anyone, think that another 50 years of the same
isolation will produce something different?
Cuba is a communist country that has little or no free-market activity.
Just about everything is controlled by the state. With the resumption of
diplomatic relations, we now have a chance to change that.
The first rule of capitalism is that capital is required to participate.
If you have no money, it is almost impossible to be an active player.
The average Cuban has so little money that many rely on remittances from
family members in the United States. Americans can legally send $8,000
to Cuba each year, and It is estimated that we sent more than $2 billion
to Cuba last year. Remember, we are talking about capitalism and not
democracy or political freedom.
Many, including myself, believe that by opening the door to free trade,
we have a chance to introduce capitalism in Cuba. Not tomorrow, not next
month and maybe not next year, but eventually. By introducing free
trade, we can start the Cuban economy on a growth path, where the
average citizen may start accumulating a little capital. Then, as is
common in capitalism, when people have a little capital saved, they want
to invest it in hopes of accumulating more. The entrepreneurial spirit
is born, and that can change everything.
Just as a small acorn can grow a huge oak tree, giving the Cuban people
a seed to grow their economy can produce, maybe not an oak, but many
smaller-growing trees that can loosen the economic soil and allow other
economic seeds to grow. Eventually, that will also help democracy,
political change and freedom to take root.
What President Obama has done is provide just a small seed; capitalism
and the Cuban people will do the rest.
Justin M. Napolitano lives in Orlando.
Source: Planting a seed in Cuba to grow economy: My Word – Orlando