Cuban Trade Embargo Will Hurt Channel

Personal computers have for the first time gone on sale in Cuba, but the U.S. reseller channel is going to suffer because of the antiquated, ineffective and ridicuous trade embargo that the Bush Administration stubbornly clings to for that island nation.

The average Cuban couldn't own a personal computer (although many found creative ways around the ban), but now that policy has been changed. As the technology revolution takes root there, don't expect U.S. companies to benefit. As happened with telecom infrastructure there, Canadian, European and Asian businesses will benefit because they are free to market their technology. It makes no sense for the Americans to be shut out of Cuban high-tech sales; the nearest VAR is only 90 miles away in Florida.

This situation really underscores the absurdity of the Cuban trade embargo, which has accomplished nothing in 50 years except add to Cuban misery and enrich foreign companies at U.S. expense. A great opportunity to use U.S. technology to rebuild Cuba's technology infrastructure is going to be squandered because the U.S. government can't accept the notion that its policy has failed and the rest of the world wants nothing to do with it (and what a familiar refrain this has become.) Cuba may not be a trillion-dollar computer market, but it is a developing one located right next door. Where are all those free-market types who embrace capitalism's call? Denying Cuba U.S. computers isn't going to topple the regime. but providing the technology might well add to U.S. influence and help spur social change. (Computers and the Web certainly have in the rest of the world.) It's time for the U.S. to get real.

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