In recent history, the United States and Cuba have had strained relations to say the least. Similarly, Cuban citizens are overwhelmingly poor. Many could argue that it is due to a lack of markets, which essentially is a lack of capitalism and free markets. For example, in Charles Wheelan’s book Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, the author portrays this very lack of markets with an anecdote regarding how cigars are all sold at a price which the government mandates. However, I will discuss a potential three-step plan to normalize the relationship between the US and Cuba, as well as bring back economic prosperity and individual freedom to Cuba.
Step one: remove the embargo.
Step one is to remove the economic embargo the United States has over Cuba. It is failed policy, incredibly belligerent, and violates many domestic, international, and religious laws.
Step two is for the United States to encourage and engage in trade with Cuba. Trade is not only a way to benefit the economic prosperity of the participating countries, but it is a way to promote peace as well. In Alexis de Tocqueville’s book Democracy in America, de Tocqueville writes that there are “moral standards of trade. Trade is the natural enemy of all violent passions…it makes them [the actors involved] inclined to liberty but disinclined to revolution,” (637).
Essentially, trade promotes peace as peace promotes trade. Not only will trade with Cuba benefit Cubans, but it will start to introduce markets back into the Cuban economy, and Cubans will start to rise out of poverty. However, there is one more issue that the Cuban government will need to do to help Cuban citizens rise out of poverty.
Step three is for Cuba to eventually establish a rule of law and property system to help Cubans get property. This is the missing link in the struggle of capitalism to take root in developing nations. For example, in his book titled The Mystery of Capital, author Hernando de Soto points out that in Haiti, the process for one to obtain private property takes an individual 19 years. The author argues that this leads to an increase in the extralegal sector, i.e. the black market, which is already present in Cuba. This leads to a lot of capital and money outside of the formal economy.
Establishing trade will not only establish peace but will help Cuba rise out of poverty.
By establishing a rule of law, capitalism and trade can take foot and help the Cuban population rise out of poverty and help Cuba rise out of Communism and into a capitalist, free market economy.
In conclusion, establishing trade between the United States and Cuba will not only establish peace between these two countries, but will help Cuba, both as a state and as a group of people, rise out of poverty. To follow the advice of George Washington in his farewell address, a state must trade with all and have war with none. This, along with the three steps I have provided, is the best way to help Cuba economically.