Cuba has been searching for oil for years; improving technology means its chances are better than ever, and a new exploratory rig offers the island nation its best hope for good economic news since communism began to eat away at the island’s hopes back in the Eisenhower administration.Oil didn’t save communism in the Soviet Union, and it won’t save communism in the Caribbean. (I remember back in the 1980s hearing the joke in Moscow: What would happen if the Soviet Union conquered the Sahara Desert. Answer: Nothing for fifty years, and then a shortage of sand. Revolutionary Cuba managed to achieve shortages of sugar even faster than that.)The foreign companies now drilling for oil and basking in the government’s favor are likely to discover what many other foreign companies in Cuba have found: that their biggest problem isn’t the US embargo, but the changing policies of a Cuban government that remains deeply suspicious of all ‘imperialists’ and ‘capitalist exploiters’.Used wisely, an oil find could enable Cuba to make a smooth transition back to a more sustainable economic model and a less oppressive political system. Unfortunately, some of the dinosaurs in the Cuban ruling establishment will argue that the oil wealth should go to prop up the old methods up a little longer. At least one of those dinosaurs is named Castro.Cuba’s potential wealth lies in the creativity of its people and their intense hunger for a better life. Its tragedy is that the government tries to crush that creativity and frustrate that hunger. This is a problem that oil can’t fix.US policy toward Cuba is absurd, but Cuba’s policy toward Cuba is much worse.