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Embargo on Cuba hinders American progress


Prevent an oil disaster or contain communism? This is a question every American should be asking their lawmakers.

A 53,000 ton, Chinese-built, Italian-owned oil rig will soon be making its way to Cuban waters, just 60 miles from the Florida Keys. Potentially, the region may contain anywhere between 5 billion and 20 billion gallons of oil. So, unsurprisingly, there was a global scramble to reap the benefits of this oil hotspot: Spain’s Repsol, Norway’s Statoil, India’s ONGC, and petro giants from Venezuela, Brazil, Malaysia and Vietnam are swooping in to explore for oil.

As domestic drilling advocates watch global oil giants prepare to profit from the rig come this November, they immediately blame President Barack Obama’s administration for banning off-shore drilling. However, because of the United States’ trade embargo on Cuba, partaking in this oil extravaganza is impossible even without the ban. Besides, there is a bigger problem other than a missed economic opportunity.

Remember the BP oil spill? For those who live on or near the Florida coast and for those whose businesses and health were affected by the gulf disaster, this new rig has a greater significance than the United States’ inaccessibility to lucrative trade. The dated Cold War trade embargo on Cuba not only prevents the United States from doing business with Cuba, but it also bars U.S. officials from sending equipment and expertise to help even in the event of a crisis. Any equipment used in dealing with oil disasters would have to come from another country. If another disastrous oil spill were to occur, the United States would have to helplessly stand back and watch the oil ominously make its way to the Florida coastline. I realize this is the worst-case scenario, but it is one against which we can easily defend ourselves just by relieving the limits on our trade with Cuba. 

It is important to recall why the trade embargo was enacted all those 52 years ago. First and foremost, the United States wanted to stop the spread of communism. This isn’t a relevant threat today; there isn’t a single rational person who believes the United States is susceptible to Cuban communism. Secondly, we wanted regime change in Cuba, but the Castros are still in power today, fueling Cuban nationalism by blaming their economic problems on American aggression. In any case, regime change will be even less likely when Cuba profits from the rig.

While the embargo remains in effect, impoverished Cubans will become poorer, and we will watch other nations endanger our coastline. But at least communism will be contained.

Hira Bakshi is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.

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