Since the announcement of the retirement of Fidel Castro as Cuban president, there have been a series of postings and perfervid threads on both Brad Delong and Marginal Revolution, going on about what terrible shape the Cuban economy supposedly is in, along with denunciations of the political repression carried out by Fidel (I am in agreement with most of those latter denunciations). I have not visited Cuba myself, but there has been much debate, both over the varying published figures, and also among people who claim to have visited Cuba (which includes MR's Tyler Cowen, but does not appear to include Brad DeLong, whose arguments have seemed especially off the wall and out of line with most reports). Even the critics grant at least some quality of education and health care, although they often claim the official stats are inaccruately positive and that the health care system is deteriorating.
Among the matters of debate has been the effect of the US economic embargo on Cuba. Many state it is huge; others say it is not and bring up the past subsidies from the USSR and current ones from Venezuela. I do not intend to adjudicate that or any of the other issues here. Rather I wish to comment on a particularly hypocritical collection of views that some of the more inflamed commentators have put forward. So, we see people who a) strongly support free trade, b) strongly support keeping the embargo in place, c) strongly argue that the embargo has no (or few) negative effects on the Cuban economy, and d) never notice that the political repression that they (and I) are unhappy about has for nearly a half a century received its strongest propagandistic justification from the fact that this embargo has been in place for all this time, even as the US trades with the likes of China and Vietnam.