A Zero-Sum Argument by CATO

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Daniel Griswold of the CATO Institute made this insulting, not to mention nonsensical, argument for lifting sanctions towards Cuba in Opposing Views:

"If more US tourists were permitted to visit Cuba, and at the same time US exports to Cuba were further liberalised, the US economy could reclaim dollars from the Castro regime as fast as the regime could acquire them. In effect, the exchange would be of agricultural products for tourism services, a kind of "bread for beaches", "food for fun" trade relationship."

Coincidentally, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 Trafficking in Persons report today, which classifies Cuba in the lowest rank, Tier 3, due to its tourist sex trade and female exploitation practices. Are the apartheid hotels, beaches and nightclubs -- where only foreigners and prostitutes are allowed access by the regime's authorities -- the "beaches" and "fun" referred to?

Even more fundamentally flawed is the notion that U.S. tourists would fuel the demand for U.S. agricultural products in Cuba. Economically, that is a zero-sum proposition. You'd simply be feeding an U.S. tourist in Havana versus doing so in Miami Beach, there's no added value.