There has been for years a growing clamor in the United States demanding a “normalization” of economic and diplomatic relations with Cuba.  But the sources of the clamor have become more varied, as have their motivations.  At first there were only the lefties, fans of the “real socialism” supposedly found in the Marxist-Leninist paradise of Cuba.  The lefties are still active, but now they have been joined by various others, including conservatives and libertarians of various kinds.

There are those who want access to Cuba’s beaches and to prostitutes of both sexes, such as Europeans now enjoy.  (In fact, European entrepreneurs regularly organize sex cruises to Cuba.)  After all, as Fidel Castro once boasted, Cuba offers the best-educated prostitutes in the world, as even college girls sell themselves in desperation to make ends meet.

Then there are the financiers and businessmen (who may or may not belong also to one of the above categories), anxious to sell stuff to Cuba, knowing that when—not if—they are not paid, they will be paid by U.S. taxpayers.

Marxist-Leninist Cuba already owes millions of dollars to countries with which she has commercial relations and faces great difficulties in obtaining credit.  She simply lacks the wherewithal to buy much abroad.  The United States would suffer the same fate as these countries.  But U.S. loan guarantees, standard in “normal” relations with Third World economies, would minimize the risk to banks and businesses of selling to Cuba, at the expense of U.S. taxpayers—a possibility that does not trouble the ethically challenged commercial and financial groups clamoring for an end to the “embargo.”

As the Small Business Exporters Association cheerfully announced,

since March 2009, a select group of commercial banks now will be able to offer terms of 180 days to five years on federally-guaranteed loans to the foreign buyers of U.S. exports without having to obtain prior federal approval.  The change means that buyers of U.S. manufactured goods and other high value exports can obtain their financing in weeks or even days, a vast improvement over the many months that federal approval had previously required. . . . Because of the foreign risks involved in export lending, most commercial banks throughout the world do not make these loans without government guarantees.  In the U.S., the guarantees are provided by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), a federal agency.

Actually, since 1999 the Cuba “embargo” has been a joke.  According to the Associated Press,

Many Americans think their government’s 45-year-old embargo blocks all trade with the communist government, but the United States is the top supplier of food and agricultural products to Cuba.  In fact, many Cubans depend on rations grown in Arkansas and North Dakota for their rice and beans.

Since December 1999, governors, senators and congressmen from at least 28 U.S. states have visited Cuba, most to talk trade.  They keep coming: Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman flew in Sunday with a farm delegation.  Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho plans a visit next month. . . .

[A] law passed by Congress in 2000 authorized cash-only purchases of U.S. food and agricultural products and was cheered by major U.S. farm firms like Archer Daniels Midland Co. interested in the untapped Cuban market. . . .

Since then, Cuba has paid more than $1.5 billion for American food and agricultural products, said John Kavulich, senior policy adviser at the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council of New York. . . .

[M]ain exports to Cuba include chicken, wheat, corn, rice and soybeans—much of it doled out to Cubans on the government ration.  The United States also sends Cuba brand-name cola, mayonnaise, hot sauce and candy bars, as well as dairy cows.

Kirby Jones, founder of the U.S.-Cuba Trade Association in Washington, said Cuba’s food import company Alimport has an entire department dedicated to American purchases.

Jones was in Cuba this month with Arkansas chicken exporters, Nebraska bean growers and officials from the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas.  “Hundreds and hundreds of American executives have come down here,” he said.  “(Cuban officials) know how to talk to us.”

But the ethically challenged American financiers and businesses are not happy with cash-only.  It limits what they can sell to the lovely pauper nation without risking their own money.  That is why they want “normalization,” so that they will be able to sell far more, knowing that when they are not paid by Cuba, U.S. taxpayers will be left holding the bag.

Of course, the United States does trade with despicable regimes like those of China and Saudi Arabia.  There are two significant differences, however.  One is that China and Saudi Arabia actually have things now indispensable to the United States—namely, money and oil.  The other difference is that neither China nor Saudi Arabia stole the property of individual Americans and of American firms.

This brings us to the glossed-over reason for the embargo.  The embargo was imposed in February 1962 in retaliation for socialist Cuba’s nationalization of the property of individual Americans and of American businesses in Cuba.  Now, surely, if government has a duty, it is to protect the property of its citizens.  Suspending commercial relations with a country that steals that property is the least a self-respecting nation can do.  After all, the United States has imposed embargoes even on countries that have done little if anything to harm the property of Americans—countries such as South Africa, Iran, and Russia.

Interestingly, one of the teachings of socialism is that capitalist businesses exploit other countries.  So one would imagine that a socialist country would be delighted when American capitalism decides not to do business with it anymore.  Curiously, the opposite has happened: Cuba and her allies in the United States have blamed the suspension of these capitalist relations (a suspension which, as we have seen, long ago ceased to be real anyway) for Cuba’s problems, and have lobbied relentlessly to have these undesirable capitalist relations restored.  But who can understand what lurks in the mind of socialists?

Meanwhile, American academics and students continue to travel to Cuba to do research and learn about other cultures, and, as a mere byproduct, enjoy Cuba’s beaches, music, and other sensual pleasures.  (That includes food, for which tourists, unlike natives, do not have to wait in long queues with their ration cards in hand, because at the tourist hotels, where Cubans cannot enter, food is plentiful and superior.)  Americans thereby leave behind their American dollars, so coveted by the land of real socialism.  Even professors of business ethics go and take along their students, so that they, too, help with their dollars the allegedly “repugnant” and “despicable” Marxist-Leninist regime.  But then, who can understand the financial and business ethics taught in American universities?