Very sad to think of Cuba as the next Vietnam or China

It's sad to see that some are looking to China and Vietnam as economic models for Cuba, especially now that a U.S. delegation is down on the island negotiating a path forward.

I say sad because China and Vietnam are horrible models for personal freedom or workers' rights.

The Chinese and Vietnamese version of capitalism is a rather cynical formula: the party elites own companies and do joint ventures with international investors looking for cheap labor.  That's not capitalism, or at least what I call capitalism.  In fact, it looks more like communism funded by foreign companies desperately looking to pay the cheapest wages in the world!

The human rights record is terrible.

Human Rights Watch gave Vietnam very bad marks on human rights for 2014:

The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) continued its one-party rule, in place since 1975. While it maintained its monopoly on state power, it faced growing public discontent with lack of basic freedoms. Denial of rights and endemic official corruption are widely seen as stifling Vietnam’s political and economic progress.

In China, it's not that good, either:

The government censors the press, the Internet, print publications, and academic research, and justifies human rights abuses as necessary to preserve “social stability.” It carries out involuntary population relocation and rehousing on a massive scale, and enforces highly repressive policies in ethnic minority areas in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia. Though primary school enrollment and basic literacy rates are high, China’s education system discriminates against children and young people with disabilities. The government obstructs domestic and international scrutiny of its human rights record, insisting it is an attempt to destabilize the country.

Nevertheless, Neil Irwin reports that many are looking to the Chinese and Vietnamese models:

Cubans — and Americans wanting to do business there — will be better off if they instead emulate Vietnam and China, two countries that have migrated from Communism to a hybrid system that is nominally Communist but practices free-market capitalism to a large degree. 

That has allowed them to become more fully integrated into the global economy and helped millions of their citizens escape poverty over the last generation without bloodshed or revolution.

Yes, it's true that Vietnam and China have avoided bloodshed and revolution in recent years.  However, that's not because their people are enjoying more prosperity; rather, it is because of the repressive nature of those regimes.  Vietnam and China are not great places for people with dissenting viewpoints!

China and Vietnam are horrible models for Cuba.  I hope that the U.S. delegation looks at a better example, such as Chile, where property rights and "the rule of law" provide permanent prosperity.

P.S. You can hear my show (CantoTalk) or follow me on Twitter