Saturday, June 04, 2005

Benefits of embargo-breaking 

Put this one into "our hearts bleed" file (hat tip: Dan Foty):
Western companies welcomed in Cuba as heroes a decade ago for bucking the U.S. embargo are packing up and leaving as the Communist government rolls back market reforms and squeezes out intermediaries.

Embittered by the change in attitude, small and medium-sized foreign businesses complained this week that they no longer feel welcome and worried they would not recover money owed to them by Cuban partners.

President Fidel Castro's government, bolstered by growing economic ties to Venezuela and China, is cutting back the autonomy granted to state-run companies to do business in the 1990s and restoring central control over trade and finance.
Now, those who tried to trade with the devil are feeling used, abused, and hurt:
"I don't think they ever wanted us here," said the manager of a major European company that is pulling out after 10 years.

"They always tried to get the most money, machinery and knowledge they could out of us while giving little in return. They owe us millions, but we are leaving mainly because of their attitude, the way they treated us," he said.
I'm realistic enough to know that there will always be businesses keen to trade with dictators and despots - a drive for profit in exploring and exploiting opportunities that others haven't or can't is a powerful one, but it should be treated just like what it is, and not necessarily as courageous public service to open closed economies and liberate the oppressed through trade. Commerce simply ain't a Trojan Horse.


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