Charlie Crist NAILS the Cuban embargo issue


Regardless of your views of the Castro regime and economic sanctions in general it takes a brave person to actually claim the Cuban embargo enacted in 1961 unilaterally by the United States has been successful. All it has served to do is allow the Castro brothers to use the United States as the bogeyman in their country for all that goes wrong and all the inadequacies of the communist dictatorship.  Crist said:

“It’s been 50 years, and it hasn’t worked,” Crist said.”And because that amount of time, you want to see if policies can work, and can come to fruition. It’s apparent to me, after 52 years, I think it is now, that this one has not. And I don’t want the people of Cuba to suffer anymore, and I think if we enter in trade with Cuba, it will help Florida and America, and the people of Cuba.”

Many Cuban-Americans in Miami love Ronald Reagan but his policies produced the same results as Democrats they disliked such as Jimmy Carter and John Kennedy. No change in Castro’s policies, though Castro himself helped Reagan get elected by releasing pressure on his economy in the form of the mariel boatlift.

It’s about time a prominent Florida politician spoke out so openly about the madness of the embargo. Economic sanctions in general do not work. History has shown that. They especially do not work when they are applied unilaterally as the vast majority of sanctions related to Cuba have been. While the rest of the west trades with Cuba and vacations on her beaches (providing competition for Florida) we shut ourselves out of this (denying Florida businesses a nearby captive market).

The US sanctions against Cuba have been long viewed as a joke in western Europe, and arguably have done little over a half century to modify the behavior of the Cuban regime. Since President Clinton signed the embarrassingly onerous Helms-Burton law in 1996 which among other things aggressively sought an international embargo against Cuba, trade between Western Europe and the Communist regime in Havana has more than doubled according to the Financial Times.

The Helms-Burton bill was signed after Castro’s military shot down a “Hermanos al Rescate” plane that had wandered close or into Cuban airspace (depending on the account) in 1996. At the time Florida politicians rushed to make this into a national crisis. One ambitious Florida Republican, Joe Scarborough now of MSNBC led the charge on the House floor as did several Democrats from the state. Clinton looking to win Florida in his reelection bid signed the bill knowing it seems that it was dangerously bad policy and suspending Title III of the bill, which is one of the most impractical provisions to EVER make it into the law of the land.

Title III creates a private cause of action and authorizes U.S. nationals with claims to confiscated property in Cuba to file suit in U.S. courts against persons that may be “trafficking” in that property. The Act grants the President the authority to suspend the lawsuit provisions for periods of 6 months if it is necessary to the national interest of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba

Three examples I have listed below show how Helms-Burton alienated our allies, first the U.K. our most important ally on the planet second Mexico our neighbor to the south, and third Canada our neighbor to the north.

The United Kingdom had previous to Helms-Burton introduced provisions by statutory instrument extending its Protection of Trading Interests Act 1980 to United States rules on trade with Cuba. U.K. law was later extended to counter-act the Helms–Burton Act as well. This included criminal sanctions for complying with certain provisions of the Helms–Burton Act whilst in the UK.

Mexico passed a law in October 1996 aimed at neutralizing the Helms–Burton Act. The law provides for a fine of 2.2 million pesos, or $300,000, against anyone who while in Mexican territory obeys another country’s laws aimed at reducing Mexican trade or foreign investment in a third country.

Canada passed a law to counteract the effect of Helms-Burton. In addition, it was proposed to amend the Godfrey-Milliken Bill that satirized Burton-Helms in reaction to Title III. Should Title III ever be activated of the bill, this legislation could fly through Parliament.

Calling it insane is an understatement. It’s bad policy that somehow has survived more than a half century of failure. Time for a change.  Hopefully with Crist stepping out on this issue, more will follow.


  1. What power does a Florida governor have to reverse the embargo should she/he want to do that?


    1. Just the bully pulpit. That’s it.


  2. Cuban American Democrat · ·

    Kartik, Your on fire today!

    As a Cuban American myself whose grandparents were born in Cuba and who had the opportunity to visit Cuba a year and a half ago, I can tell you that this 55 year old embargo is one of the stupidest policies in US History that hurts not just the Cubans but Floridians as well who have had a 500 year history of open trade and travel with the island nation.

    You and I can hop on a plane tomorrow and go to Communist China and do any business anytime we want.

    But Cuba?

    Forget it!

    You need a mountain of paperwork and permission slips to travel or even trade with Cuba.

    It’s stupid!

    And who IS trading and doing business with Cuba?

    Try our “FRIENDS” in Russia and Communist China.

    And we are only 90 miles from each other.

    Another good reason I’m supporting and voting for Charlie Crist!!!

    Thanks Again. Kartik!


    1. And that’s a big part of the point – We can go to Vietnam or China without any hassle or any problem but yet we can’t go to an Island 90 miles away?

      The policy is absolute inconsistent madness. No other way to put it!


  3. You got to remember – the PRIMARY reason why the embargo still exists are the Miami cubanos. Well, that and inertia. Without their extreme, irrational hatred of the Cuban govt, their votes and $$$, the embargo would have ended years ago. But now they are dying off, and moving away. It’s possible to have the 2nd and 3rd generations influence them. The conversation cannot be won until it’s begun. Prior to this, politicians caved before los Cubanos. Now it is politically advantageous for Crist, the ‘outsider’ to shake the tree. Little to lose…


  4. Patti Lynn · ·

    This is an excellent article, Kartik, thank you very much. I must agree with Bruce, above. No south Florida politician is willing to speak out against the embargo. I am HOPING that they are truly against it, but not saying so for political reasons. If anyone thinks that it has been a benefit to the USA, or those Cubans still residing on the island, they have not studied history or economics. Let’s see what the comments are, from our “electeds,” regarding Chain Gang Charlie’s comments. NAN RICH for governor!!


  5. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    Well done. Good piece.


  6. Keep Florida Working · ·

    Crist acted like a job killing socialist as governor now he’s aligned with Fidel Castro to take back the governors mansion. Floridians who love freedom will rally around Rick Scott. You leftists are all deluded in thinking this is a “good thing.”


    1. I don’t know how it plays out politically. What I said is that it is good policy and the embargo has proven to be a failed faulty policy.


      1. Bruce Borkosky · ·

        If you look at the successful and failed empires, throughout history, you will notice that the most successful ones did not succeed by withdrawing from a region (as with had done with Cuba). Neither have they done it totally via physical force and repression of the people in foreign lands (as we tried to do by invading Cuba). The biggest successes have come from social, cultural, and economic influences over other countries. Now think about the world in terms of U.S. empire – where was that empire limited? In countries where our trade and freedom of movement was limited – the soviet block, China, Cuba, Arab countries, etc. Now, where the governments are opening to freedom of trade, U.S. influence is growing. It can only benefit us.

        On Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 1:42 PM, The Florida Squeeze wrote:

        > Kartik Krishnaiyer commented: “I don’t know how it plays out > politically. What I said is that it is good policy and the embargo has > proven to be a failed faulty policy. ” >


  7. […] in Hispanic voting patterns that Charlie Crist could be very hurt in Miami-Dade County by taking the courageous stand he did. But Crist could have gotten past this issue much easier if the President and national Democrats […]


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