U.S. Unnecessary Embargo on Cuba

U.S. Unnecessary Embargo on Cuba
Fecha de publicación: 
13 December 2023
Imagen principal: 

The United States is furthering its reputation as a morally bankrupt empire. Proof of this is its maintaining the embargo that has caused hardship for Cuba. In an obsessed bout of insanity, U.S. politicians are adamant to continue imposing this 61-year Cold War relic without real justification.

According to those politicians, Cuba has a communist regime that has committed gross violations of human rights and wrecked the economy. While Cuba has had incidences of rights violations and inner inefficiencies, they pale in comparison to the horrendous effects of the embargo. Additionally, Cuba has had to cope with covert operations involving sabotage and attempted assassinations by the U.S.

Another aspect of this economic aggression is perhaps U.S. politicians have had an ego problem based on a superiority complex. Thus, to lift the embargo would, to them, be a sign of weakness. If true, add the word “stupid” to other words describing them and their gross irresponsibility.

The 61-year Cold War relic has been challenged. Since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly has put forth resolutions to lift the embargo, and continues to do so. The latest occurred on November 2, 2023. So, 187 nations voted to lift the embargo. There was one abstention by Ukraine. And the only two to vote against it was the United States and Israel. This figures since the U.S. and Israel have been close allies over the years. Israel is like the “spoiled child” of the U.S., receiving billions in aid, especially militarily. In turn, Israel has used that aid to commit war crimes against the Palestinians; as the latest bombing campaign in Gaza proves, causing the threat of genocide.

According to United Nations News, the assembly was concerned that the embargo, dating back to 1960, caused, quoting the resolution, “economic, commercial and financial [consequences]. Also, that “the adverse effects of such measures on the Cuban people and on Cuban nationals living in other countries.”

Another reason for the embargo was in response to Cuba taking land and property from U.S. companies after the 1959 revolution. Cuba, however, rejected its status as a U.S. neo-colony, where U.S. businesses had private monopolies over major Cuban industries. Cuba yearned to break away from the U.S. orbit.

Members of the assembly spoke about Cuba and the effects of the embargo. For example:

U.S. Representative Paul Folmsbee claimed that the U.S. “stands resolutely” with the Cuban people. This would be laughable if the situation wasn’t so serious. If that were true, the embargo would have been lifted years ago so the Cuban people can have improved lives. But the opposite occurred, with the tightening of the embargo several times.

Folmsbee added that the U.S. opposed the resolution because the embargo was one of several tools used to get the Cuban government to respect human rights. Cuba’s rights record is not perfect but is better than many other nations. And yet those nations, being allies of the U.S., don’t get the same scrutiny.

Folmsbee did say that there are exemptions to the embargo relating to exports of food, medicines, and other humanitarian measures, but that’s only a half-ass option. What would be ethical and make sense is the total lifting of the embargo. But the U.S., as an empire, doesn’t make sense and is generally immoral especially when it comes to foreign policy. (Despite its degree of democracy.)

Cuba had its say. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla pointed out that the 60-year-old embargo violates the rights of all Cubans. Families lack goods, there are queues to get products, but the government makes major efforts to ensure that the people have food. Additionally, Rodriguez Parrilla emphasized that “Cuba is prevented from buying from US companies and its subsidiaries in third countries, equipment, technologies, medical devices and end use pharmaceuticals, and is therefore forced to acquire them at exorbitant prices by way of intermediaries or replace them with less-effective generic drugs.”

Embargo, An Act of Economic Warfare

Rodriquez Parrilla also emphasized that the embargo is “an act of economic warfare.” He said it is unacceptable and an illegal, cruel and inhumane policy. He expressed that Cuba supported the Palestinian people with their coping of the occupation, settlements, and now the bombardment of Gaza, and demanded that “These barbaric acts must stop.”

Rodriquez Parrilla brought up the hostility and provocations characterizing U.S. disinformation which is aimed at fomenting discontent. But he added that this is false propaganda to create the scenario of a domestic political crisis.

Other members who spoke out:

Gabon’s representative, Ambassador Aurelie Flore Koumba Pambo said, “The scale of [the embargo’s] impact is more and more harmful to the Cuban people” and is “clearly a hostile act to region and continental cohesion.” She emphasized that the embargo is having a terrible effect on culture, public health and the well-being of Cuba’s people. “It is the main obstacle to the social and economic development of Cuba.”

Chilean Ambassador Paula Narvaez Ojeda said that the embargo runs counter to international law. “Chile does not agree with the imposition of unilateral sanctions of any kind…”

Peru’s Ambassador Luis Ugarelli said that the embargo goes against the UN Charter and international human rights law. He added that his country “shares the view of practically the entire international community.”

Writing in Common Dreams, Brett Wilkins quoted Bolivian Ambassador Diego Pary, who complimented Cuba on its multiple Covid-19 vaccines, saying, “Just think how many lives could have been saved if Cuba had the freedom and the opportunity to share the vaccine successfully developed in Cuban laboratories.”

Wilkins additionally wrote that “Successive U.S. administrations subsequently supported a decades-long campaign of exile terrorism against Cuba, which included failed assassination attempts, subversion efforts, economic warfare and covert operations in a fruitless policy of trying to overthrow Castro and reverse Cuba’s revolution.”

Meanwhile, CodePink called out the U.S. by putting out a statement of its own:

“The U.S. embargo has a negative impact on all sectors of Cuba’s economy and has unquestionably worsened the quality of life of Cubans by limiting their access to basic necessities, including medicines, food and fuel. According to the Cuban government, from March 2022 to February 2023, the blockade caused an estimated $4.8 billion in losses to Cuba. The inclusion of Cuba in the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism…exacerbates the impact of the economic embargo. This has led to a massive increase in the number of Cubans migrating to the United States in search of economic opportunities.”

Cuba has good reason to be leery of U.S. motives. Before 1959, Cuba was a market satellite of the monetary empire. U.S. businesses heavily profited off of private monopolies in Cuba’s economy. There was a lack of sovereignty, which didn’t sit well with many Cubans.

After 1959, Cuba’s revolution led by Fidel Castro brought sovereignty to the forefront. U.S. business’ assets were seized by the Cuban government, to make up for the billions of profits that were made off the island nation. Those funds went to prioritize Cuba’s interests. A major literacy campaign was started that included most, if not all, Cubans in learning how to read and write. A healthcare system was established where it would be free to all Cubans. The same with education.

Eventually, Cuba became a major player on the world stage, sending doctors to care for people in the Global South. Cuban soldiers fought against the apartheid regime in South Africa (which by-the-way was backed by Israel and the United States), and Cuban soldiers helped Angola to protect its’ sovereignty by fighting the U.S.-backed UNITA forces lead by tyrant Jonas Savimbi.

Eisenhower Started the Embargo

Practically from the start, the United States was hostile to the new Cuba. The first steps in imposing the embargo were carried out by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower according to ProCon.org when he “signed a partial embargo on exports to Cuba” in October 1960.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy approved the training and arming of Cuban exiles with the goal of overthrowing Cuba’s revolutionary government. Afterwards, the Bay of Pigs invasion was launched but turned out to be an utter failure. The exiles were outnumbered by many within the Cuban population.

Kennedy took the embargo further with Proclamation 3447 which was enacted in February 1962. It declared “an embargo on all trade between the United States and Cuba.”

There was the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 whereby the Soviet Union, which sent missiles to Cuba, took the weaponry out of the island nation. Publicly, there was the story that Kennedy made Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev blink in what could have been a nuclear war between the U.S. and USSR. Actually, Kennedy and Khrushchev made an agreement that if the USSR took its missiles out of Cuba, Kennedy would have the U.S. take its missiles out of Turkey.

In February 1963, “the United States prohibited travel to Cuba and in July of that year the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) were issued as a comprehensive economic sanction outlawing financial transactions with Cuba.”

U.S. President Jimmy Carter was attempting to thaw relations with Cuba in 1977. Carter opened the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and there were secret talks between the U.S. and Cuban governments. Supporters of the embargo were not trustful of Cuba. Eventually, the Mariel Boatlift was launched by Fidel Castro in 1980, where “125,000 Cubans, including nearly 2,500 prisoners and mentally ill patients, were sent to Florida.”

The embargo supporters thought that the Mariel boatlift was a deception in the face of important talks between the two countries. That encouraged them and got more reasons for supporting the embargo. The “U.S. State Department added Cuba to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 1982, reportedly because of its support of communist rebels in Africa and Latin America.” Critics of adding Cuba to the list thought “the designation has no justification and undermines U.S. credibility in the international community.”

Cuba was getting $3 billion in annual aid from the Soviet Union, which was necessary. But the USSR dissolved in 1991 and Cuba was between a rock and a hard place. Just at this time, the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act were introduced to tighten the embargo further. Rather than actually help Cuba, the U.S. stuck to its Cold War mindset. The acts prevented subsidiaries of U.S. companies in other countries from trading with Cuba, among other restrictions.

In 1995, U.S. President Bill Clinton attempted a limited thaw of the embargo by an executive order lifting some travel restrictions and establishing a Western Union office in Havana. The pro-embargo critics were outraged that any measures of curbing the embargo were enacted.

Notably, Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American and U.S. representative from New Jersey, practically hounded Clinton to put more pressure on Castro, and thus Cuba. Ideally, Clinton was in favor of lifting the sanctions but succumbed to pressure.

The U.S. presidency swung back the the Republicans in 2000, although it was hotly contested. The Supreme Court became the final decision-maker since it had a conservative majority. This put George W. Bush in power and with it, more changes to the embargo. The restrictions imposed by the Bush Jr. regime were just as harsh as previous restrictions. For example, violating the embargo could land one in prison for up to 10 years and fines of $1 million. There were restrictions on visiting Cuba, and Cubans in the U.S. wanted to send money to their relatives there, but that became restricted.

Obama Eased Cuba Embargo

In 2008, the presidency, again, swung back to the Democrats, with Barack Obama in the leadership role. Obama was to ease restrictions on the embargo, notably, being allowed to travel to Cuba (although with exception of tourism) and Cubans in the U.S. being allowed to send money to their relatives. Just as important, the U.S. and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. Embassies were set up in both countries.

ProCon.org quoted then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry: “We are all aware that, notwithstanding President Obama’s new policy, the overall U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba remains in place and can only be lifted by Congressional action–a step we strongly favor.”

Then came Trump, winning the presidency in 2016. Further restrictions were once again in place. Obama’s ease to travel and trade were cancelled. Trump was quoted as saying, “The outcome of last administration’s executive actions has been only more repression …Therefore, effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba…We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo.”

It's widely known by now that Trump is a wannabe tyrant. He is definitely insane. So, it wasn’t exactly shocking that another Republican would clamp down, preferring to tighten the embargo. But then it’s been mainly a bi-partisan effort over the years. Many Democrats are just as guilty of going along with maintaining the embargo.

As is well-known, the U.S. (along with Israel), is virtually alone in enforcing a 61-year-old relic against Cuba. The UN General Assembly for 33 years has spoken time and time again by rejecting it.

By virtue of the embargo, among other acts of aggression, the United States, as an empire, is morally bankrupt; a rogue nation.

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