Thanks for an enjoyable article, but I think
′ Finally, I think if the embargo were really so severe as to be mainly responsible for Cuba’s problems, Cuba would do more to try to undo it. I don’t know the details of the diplomacy here and of course there limits to how well Cuba can reform without risking a coup or revolution, but it still seems like there are small ways they could have tried to improve relations with the US—token liberalization, apologize for shooting down planes in 1996, offer compensation for frozen/confiscated US property, or other things. If there really were so many billions of dollars at stake then I would think they’d have taken some earlier, bigger steps forward. Low confidence on this.′
Betrays a major misunderstanding of the ideological forces at play here. Castro and the Cuban government have, understandably, felt as if the US would do anything to knock it back into being a capitalist, investor friendly state like it was under Batista (Bay of Pigs, Operation Northwoods,the 1976 plane bombing etc). To back down would be to open the floodgates to further US attempts like these. A refusal to kowtow to the US given their record does not in any way indicate that the embargo is not severe
But since the end of the Cold War, America has had little reason to pursue regime change in Cuba. In fact we would probably prefer to avoid a refugee crisis.
Consider how the US acted towards China after the Sino-Soviet split. We warmed relations quite a bit, pressing mildly for liberalization but not for regime change. From the Cuban perspective I wouldn’t see it as an existential threat, unless I simply refused to tolerate the loss of my personal political power (which, admittedly, may be their reasoning).