World Health Assembly: The World Should Be More like Cuba


During a visit to Mexico by Cuba’s president Miguel Díaz-Canel, Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), announced that he was willing to lead an international effort to pressure the U.S. government into lifting its six-decade-old economic embargo against the Cuban people. AMLO stated, “As a sign of goodwill and that all the countries of the Americas are willing to join forces, I consider and express with respect that the US government should lift, as soon as possible, the unjust and inhumane blockade of the Cuban people.”

AMLO raises a good point: Why does the U.S. government continue to wage economic war against the people of Cuba with its unjust and inhumane economic embargo? 

No, I’m not suggesting that U.S. officials have to embrace Díaz-Canel or any other Cuban communist official, as AMLO does. What I’m saying is that the U.S. government has no moral or legal justification for its economic war against the Cuban people.

After all, let’s not forget something important: Neither the Cuban people nor the Cuban government has ever attacked or invaded the United States. Never! In fact, in the long sordid relationship between the United States and Cuba, it has always been the United States that has been the aggressor. 

It was the CIA that invaded Cuba through the use of Cuban exiles. It was the CIA that repeatedly tried to murder Cuban president Fidel Castro. It was the Pentagon that constantly pressured President Kennedy into invading Cuba with the full force of the U.S. military, both before and during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It has been the U.S. government that has targeted the Cuban people with death and economic privation as a way to achieve regime change on the island. 

Why? Why is it so important to the Pentagon and the CIA to continue waging economic warfare against the people of Cuba?

After all, it can’t be an anti-communist thing, which is what they used to justify their embargo during the Cold War. Why do I say that? Well, just look at how the U.S. government treats Vietnam, which, like Cuba, has long been run by a communist regime. 

Consider this statement entitled “U.S. Relations With Vietnam” on the website of the U.S. State Department:

“U.S.-Vietnam relations have become increasingly cooperative and comprehensive, evolving into a flourishing partnership that spans political, economic, security, and people-to-people ties. The United States supports a strong, prosperous, and independent Vietnam that contributes to international security; engages in mutually beneficial trade relations; respects human rights and the rule of law; and is resilient in the face of climate and energy-related challenges…. U.S.-Vietnam people-to-people ties have flourished. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese study in the United States, contributing nearly $1 billion to the U.S. economy…. In an effort to build Vietnam’s self-reliance, the United States works to spur further growth and trade competitiveness, combat pandemic threats, promote renewable energy, address war legacy issues, and conserve Vietnam’s forests and biodiversity…. Since entry into force of the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement in 2001, trade between the two countries and U.S. investment in Vietnam have grown dramatically.”

The website of the Center for Strategic & International Studies points out:

The current depth and breadth of the U.S.-Vietnam partnership was not a foregone conclusion. It is the result of decades of hard work and perseverance from both sides…. Since the two countries normalized relations in 1995, Vietnam has vaulted onto the shortlist of countries of greatest interest to U.S. investors. U.S. foreign direct investment into Vietnam has grown from under $1 billion in 2011 to over $2.6 billion in 2019.

Don’t forget something important: Unlike the Cuban Reds, the Vietnamese Reds killed more than 58,000 American soldiers!

Thus, the logical question arises: Why can’t the American people have a normal relationship with the people of Cuba? Why must the U.S. government continue waging a brutal economic war against Cubans when it has established a friendly relationship with the Vietnamese Reds?

In my opinion, it’s because the Pentagon and the CIA simply have been unable to get over the fact that the Cuban Reds defeated them and humiliated them. Yes, I fully realize that the Vietnamese Reds did the same thing, but there was one big difference between Cuba and Vietnam: The Pentagon and the CIA have always been dead-set on achieving regime change in Cuba. In Vietnam, they were trying to prevent the unification of the country under communist rule. After their defeat in Vietnam, they knew that they would never reverse the unification of Vietnam under communist rule. With Cuba, they have never given up hope of achieving their goal of regime change.

Almost from the very beginning of the Cuban Revolution, the Pentagon and the CIA were obsessed with achieving regime change in Cuba. Their aim has been to oust the communists from power and replace them with some pro-U.S. dictator, such as Fulgencio Batista, the Cuban dictator that the communists ousted from power, or as Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the brutal military tyrant who the Pentagon and the CIA helped install into power in Chile. 

For all their omnipotent power, the Pentagon and the CIA have never been able to achieve their regime-change goal in Cuba. The Third World Cuban communist regime has foiled them every step of the way and, in the process, deeply embarrassed and humiliated both the Pentagon and the CIA.

Moreover, for decades the Pentagon and the CIA resigned themselves to waiting for Fidel Castro to die, hoping that that would be the day that the Cuban people would rise up and install another pro-U.S. dictator. It didn’t happen, which only deepened the sense of embarrassment and humiliation within Pentagon and CIA officials. Díaz-Canel, who succeeded Fidel and Raul Castro as president of Cuba, is himself a self-avowed communist. 

What the Pentagon and the CIA have never been able or willing to recognize is that the last thing the Cuban people want is to be ruled again by the U.S. government. Notwithstanding the horrors of living under socialism, given a choice between socialism and U.S. rule, most Cubans would pick socialism any day of the week. Given a choice between economic liberty and socialism, I think most Cubans would pick economic liberty, just so long as the U.S. government butted out of their lives.

It is painfully clear that the Pentagon and the CIA simply cannot let go of their obsession with controlling Cuba. The ultimate answer to this moral and economic travesty lies with the American people. After all, the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s economic embargo is also an attack on us and, specifically, our fundamental, natural, God-given rights of economic liberty, freedom of travel, freedom of trade, and freedom of association.

What we need in this country is a revival of conscience and a thirst for liberty within the American people. When that day comes, what AMLO correctly describes as the “unjust and inhumane” economic embargo against the people of Cuba (and against the people of the United States) will come to an end.

This first appeared on Hornberger’s Expand Freedom blog.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.