Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, April 11, 2005


An article in The American Spectator reports that China is making a "foray" into Latin America.

Chinese President Hu Jintao reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Latin America by announcing an astounding $100 billion investment in the region in the next decade...

It is no coincidence that China is positioning itself in the Gulf of Mexico, Panamanian Peninsula, Canada’s British Columbia, and Venezuela. It is also no coincidence that the Chinese are spending billions of dollars to upgrade antiquated Soviet military facilities in Cuba. Not surprisingly, escalating Chinese economic involvement in Latin America since the 1990’s has brought with it a resurgence of socialist behavior and empathy.

The truth is, Latin America may have something to learn from China. As everyone knows, China is the world's most successful developing country, while Latin America is a chronic under-performer. And the biggest economic problem in Latin America is economic inequality. Inequality in the US mostly reflects differential ability and inclination to achieve (and luck) in an environment of equal opportunity. Inequality in Latin America is much greater, and mostly reflects class distinctions; birth, not merit. It's horrible to say this, but I'm afraid I think the Maoist revolution in China paved the way for the present boom in growth, by wiping out feudalism and preparing the ground for an order based on social mobility, a prerequisite for dynamic capitalism.

The article also dismisses Cuban officials' claims that the US is considering regime change are "diversionary comments designed to conceal illicit or subversive actions on the part of Cuba and China," and recommends that:

comprehensive US legislative action such as the Cuban Democracy Act, which prohibits foreign-based subsidiaries of US companies from trading with Cuba, and the Helms-Burton Act, which denies certain visas and gives American citizens the right to sue foreign investors, should be continued and strengthened.

I disagree. I'm with the late pope on economic sanctions. I'm generically against them because they punish people rather than rulers. But there's a case for regime change in Cuba, particularly if they increase cooperation with China. I say: lift the sanctions, but put regime change on the table. Put the Cuban people first.


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