Would you like to visit Cuba? If so, what would you expect to find? In this week’s EconTalk episode, host Russ Roberts welcomed back Casey Mulligan, who recently had just such an experience.

I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba myself. So before I listened to this week’s conversation, I tried to envision what I would expect to find were I to travel there. Images of crumbling architecture, colorful antique cars, and the surrounding sea are familiar to us all. But do they really reflect what life in Cuba is like? Mulligan offers many provocative illustrations of the reality of day-to-day life in present day Cuba. I admit that my musings, like Roberts’s, were of a more pessimistic bent than what Mulligan reports on having seen there. I believe people thirst for freedom, and though they may make excuses for why they don’t have it, often justifiably, I would expect for more of such thirst to be evident.

Mulligan made many interesting points… One of which is his suggestion that the Cuban regime has passed some sort of market test, given its longevity. Not surprisingly, Roberts pushes back, asking if that is true, then what is it the Cuban people get from such a regime? Mulligan notes in several contexts the differences he perceived between Cuban-Americans and “Cuban-Cubans,” not least of which is the far greater degree of anger apparent toward the regime among the former. Mulligan makes another important point in discussing that same anger when he points to Castro’s “migration campaign” to deal with protesters early in the regime. To be sure, he argues, this must be perceived as relatively better than the “murder campaigns” of other dictators, such as Stalin and Mao.

So why, as Roberts points out, is “the line to get out of Cuba longer than the line to get into Cuba,” still? What lessons can be learned from the US experience with the trade embargo? How stable will the Castro regime be as tourists (and ex-pats and information) flow into the tiny island nation? Have a listen to this week’s episode, and share your thoughts! And if you’ve visited Cuba, we’d love to hear about your experiences, too.