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Oct 12 2013

US must lift the embargo on Cuba

With all the other things going on in international politics, often overlooked is the sheer cruelty of the 51-year old US embargo on Cuba that is meant to designed to strangle the economy of that country and bring hardship to their people so as to make their government subservient to the US. For the 22nd year in a row, the Cuban government is seeking to have the United Nations condemn the US embargo. Last year, 188 nations voted to condemn the embargo with only Israel and Palau supporting the US, showing how isolated the US is on this issue. The vote this year is scheduled for October 29.

Cuba has to be added to the list of president Obama’s major broken campaign promises. He said that he wanted to improve relations with that country but has done precious little and in some areas has made the measures even harsher.

Obama has lifted some restrictions on travel and on the sending of remittances to the island, but [Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo] Moreno said the embargo and its enforcement had been broadened in other areas.

“The blockade not only is being maintained, but strengthened in some aspects,” Moreno charged.

“I ask what right does the United States have to sanction companies that are not North American,” he said, charging that since Obama took office in 2009, fines against embargo violators, domestic and foreign, had dramatically increased and totaled $2.5 billion to date.
Cuba says the embargo is a blockade because it punishes third country companies for doing business with Havana.

While apologists for Obama say that continuing the embargo is due to the pressure from the Cuban exile community in Florida, this just shows his cowardliness. While Democrats gleefully point to the cowardice of Republicans who are afraid of the Tea Party, they themselves are fearful of a small, aging, totally reactionary, and vindictive group of people in the Miami area.

But there is also an element of sheer spite driving this policy. The mighty US cannot stand the fact that a tiny neighboring country defied it and refused to act like a puppet state. So Cuba had to be taught a lesson so that other countries would not get similar uppity ideas about providing its people with universal education and health care and the basic elements of life, a pattern repeated later with Nicaragua. The continuing occupation of Guantanamo is yet another petty way of asserting US might over that nation.

The embargo puts people’s lives at risk in many ways but in particular by depriving them of much needed medical supplies.

Cuba held the news conference, where it announced the draft U.N. resolution calling for an end to the embargo, at the William Soler children’s heart center to emphasize that the sanctions do not discriminate between the country’s political leadership and innocent people and amounts to what it calls “genocide.”

The hospital’s director, Eugenio Selman-Housein Sosa, said his center often lacked the most modern equipment and medicines because U.S. companies predominated in some sectors and Washington’s regulations on checking end-users made business next to impossible.

“In the case of Cuba this becomes dramatic,” he said, because the sanctions “impede the acquisition of products that literally signify the difference between life and death.”

One of the groups that I regularly give money to is Disarm, and in particular the Cuban Medical Project that sends medicines to that country.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    colnago80

    Not going to happen. If Prof. Singham thinks that the Cuban refugee community is losing their clout on this issue, let’s go back a couple of years when columnist Jeffrey Goldberg visited Cuba and had an interview with retired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Castro opined that Bibi’s father, Benzion, was, in his considered opinion, the foremost expert on the Inquisition. In response, Bibi inferred that maybe Israel should resume diplomatic relations with Cuba. Upon reading about this, powerful Florida Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, a strong supporter of Israel, suggested that Bibi should reconsider his position. And guess what, Bibi knuckled under the next day. Now that’s clout!

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    While Democrats gleefully point to the cowardice of Republicans who are afraid of the Tea Party, they themselves are fearful of a small, aging, totally reactionary, and vindictive group of people in the Miami area.

    That small group forms a well-disciplined voting bloc, which has sent the same cadre of Representatives to Congress for decades. Tightly screened and closely monitored for the slightest deviation from nonstop Castrophobia, these politicians have skillfully used their seniority and collaboration (across & within party lines) to accumulate a great deal of leverage.

    With no comparable pressure group pushing against the embargo, neither Obama nor any other Democrat feel any incentive to resist. We might more easily imagine a Republican trying an “only Nixon could go to China” ploy, but Cuba so far has no comparable resources to offer the sort of payoff that might motivate such a gambit.

  3. 3
    AnotherAnonymouse

    Mano, the Cuban community in Florida is not stagnating. They’re into the third generation of American-born members who are so pampered and coddled that the other Hispanics can’t stand them.

  4. 4
    2up2down2furious

    Strangely enough, even with the embargo and decades of US-backed terrorism and sabotage Cuba has a slightly higher life expectancy than the US, according to the World Bank (79.13 years for Cuba, 78.64 for the States). If one needed more evidence that the US healthcare system is deeply flawed, look no further.

  5. 5
    Rutee Katreya

    Considerably higher, if you aren’t white.

  6. 6
    doublereed

    We STILL have an embargo with Cuba????

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