Though Cubans risk harassment and even death at the hands of Cuba’s brutal and autocratic regime, protests and cries for freedom continue to sweep the country. Unfortunately, bad-faith arguments persist, from the same people who routinely denounce trade as exploitative, that blame the U.S. embargo for Cubans’ discontent with their communist government.
Socialists aren’t exactly known for their love for unfettered markets. Free trade, in particular, is a frequent target of socialist critique. They frequently argue that free trade prevents developing nations from growing, and Karl Marx called free trade “shameless, direct, brutal exploitation” of the working class in The Communist Manifesto.
Yet when socialists talk about the embargo on Cuba, they suddenly become Austrian economists. Black Lives Matter (an organization whose leaders have long held Marxist views well to the left of the movement it is associated with), released a statement blaming the embargo for costing Cuba “an estimated $130 billion” and for destabilizing what surely would otherwise be a very stable and harmonious society.
The sentiment that Cuba’s loss of access to trade has harmed it is not wrong, even if according to import-substitution theory socialists often espouse elsewhere this should have allowed Cuba to develop a flourishing domestic