But this U.S. capitulation, without apparently getting anything in return, reminds me of an article I wrote for Forbes Magazine, The cost of Castro (March 23, 1998. Alas, the graphics, which made the case, have not been webposted):
WHAT IS THE COST of Castro? Communist economies are notoriously tricky to estimate, but it appears that Cuba’s inflation-adjusted per capita income has actually fallen since Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959 (see chart). In dramatic contrast, Florida, just 90 miles to the north, has boomed — as have other Sunbelt states like Texas and Arizona. Their revolution was air-conditioning. And it worked.I thought this argument was strong enough, but additionally, remember, this was after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, taking with it the subsidies that were actually keeping the Cuban economy afloat. The Castro regime's subsequent survival, at a time when even Hoxha's Albania and Ceausescu's Romania fell, was simply incredible.
To estimate the cost of Castro, we assume that Cuba’s current per capita output should be about the same proportion of Florida’s output as it was in 1959. This gives us a current figure ($4,169), more than three times higher than Cuba’s actual output ($1,300), modestly placed between that of Jamaica ($3,200) and of Mexico ($7,700).
In fact, Cuba would probably have done considerably better than this.
A 1956 U.S. Department of Commerce guide for businessmen flatly said that “Cuba is not an underdeveloped country in the sense usually associated with that term,” citing its infrastructure, industrial development and large middle class. Its living standards were reported to be among the highest in Latin America — then.
A hint of what might have been: Even troubled Mexico’s per capita GDP has closed in on the U.S. quite considerably over the last four decades – from less than an eighth in 1959 to about a third recently. Still, our modest estimate suggests that the shortfall in Cuban GDP as a result of Castro was a hefty $31.5 billion in 1995.
In the language of takeover artists, Cuba is an underperforming asset. Not all of this value could be realized immediately, of course – but enough to suggest it would be well worthwhile to offer Fidel a very golden handshake (say $5 billion) to retire to Spain.
Or maybe one of his middle managers may try an LRO — Leveraged Rub Out?
It's an interesting question why the U.S. has not bribed and/ or bullied the Cuban regime into stepping down, as it did the Afrikaners government in South Africa (democratically elected from within the white community, which is more than Castro can say).
For that matter, why didn't the U.S. just invade Cuba after the Soviet Union 1991, when it was completely isolated and falling apart? We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, didn't we? At least by invading Cuba, we could have got Miami back.
Maybe because using the U.S. military to defend the national interest might have given Americans the idea it could be used to seal the border?