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Baseball, Cigars, and Freedom

He has physically outlived seven U.S. presidents and politically outlasted three more. But time is almost up. The triumph of freedom over tyranny is inevitable and it is likely that repressive government in Cuba will begin to die alongside Fidel Castro himself. It is unfortunate that Castro will not live to see his subjects free but for Cubans, Americans, and humanity the freedom itself will be enough.

For Cubans, of course, the fortune of the demise of repressive government is self-evident. Instead of an economy wracked by sanctions, not to mention the inevitable failures and repression of a planned economy, the Cuban people will be able to once again unleash their competitive energies. Instead of being told by the government what to do, with their lives and their earnings, they will enjoy the blessings of freedom. In short, they will be able to live their lives for themselves and their families rather than the state.

Less obvious perhaps are the enormous benefits that citizens of the United States will garner from the fall of tyranny in Cuba. When America finally decriminalizes trade and travel to Cuba we will get more than a glut of major league baseball players and Cuban cigars. Cuba is apparently a beautiful country to travel to, goodness knows the Mets need pitching, and those Cohibas are something special, but they are important also for what they represent: our own freedom.

The ban on anything-Cuban that our government has imposed has come at the cost of freedom of Americans. Currently we cannot trade with, through, or to Cuba. It is not that we choose not to do so for reasons of cost, efficacy, morality, or availability. It is for reasons of politics and it is profoundly antithetical to the spirit and practice of liberty. It is one thing to argument for limits on weapons exports to regimes committing human rights violations, for example. But it is hard to imagine why the same argument should apply to, for example, exporting foodstuffs and importing cigars. I hardly see how we are aiding the cause of Castro ‘s admittedly tyrannical by allowing Americans either to trade or travel. Prohibitions on trade are unfortunate in their own right, they stop people from making themselves better off than they were before.

We can also expect the fall of Cuba to open our collective eyes to the inferiority of authoritarian collectivism. Teary-eyed portrayals of Cuba as a universal healthcare paradise by far left-wingers in our own country aside, an opening up of Cuba will show just how repressive and backwards Castro ‘s particular brand of socialism really is. When the Berlin Wall fell and we could see East Berlin, when the German Democratic Republic fell and we could see East Germany and when the Soviet Union fell and we could see Russia, the evidence was damning. And should it be any surprise? These countries have to use force and coercion to keep their people in, people who are literally dying to get out.

The case against the silly trade embargo (and consequently for the end of Castro) is much larger than the physical products we will gain. Half in jest I point to baseball players, but the freedom to travel and immigrate freely really represents the opportunity to seek a better life. I also point jokingly to the boon to cigar smokers, but this too is merely representative of the ability of trade to provide us with the things necessary for a better life.

So while Castro has remarkably outlived many of America ‘s finest leaders, he will not be able to outlive the ideas of liberty. His downfall will give America and the world, at long last, baseball, cigars, and freedom.


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