Thursday, September 25, 2008
For almost 50 years the United States has continued its trade embargo against Cuba, stepping up to even more strict regulations within the past 10 years, like increased financial sanctions that isolate Cuba from the international trading community. With the devastation of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, many in Cuba and around the world are again raising their voices in protest to the persistence of the blockade. After the natural disaster, the U.S. offered direct aid to the island, but still refuses to lift the embargo that Cuban Foreign Minister Felips Pérez Roque estimated has cost Cuba at least $222 billion (“Near-unanimous vote at UN”). Calls to end the blockade may be heard louder as the Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura participates in the 63rd convention of the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York (though it is unlikely to make headlines in the U.S. while the Presidential campaign and the current financial crisis blanket news pages across the country).
Looking beyond the protestations of Cuba herself, more than 180 members of the United Nations voted to condemn the embargo in 2007. This issue has been raised religiously for the past 16 years, and every vote ends with a majority decision against the blockade. So what is the U.S. still holding on for? Are politicians trying not to lose face in the international community for giving in to such a small nation?
Having formed the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba in 2003, it would seem the U.S. government has held tight to this embargo for so many years because it wishes to see the administration in Cuba change to a democracy. But is this an efficient way to do so? When an embargo is placed on a country, who is hurt? And who do they blame for their suffering?
Partlow, Joshua. “Hurricanes Shift Debate on Embargo Against Cuba.” Washington Post Foreign Service, 24 September 2008, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/23/AR2008092303668.html?hpid=moreheadlines .
Van Auken, Bill. “Near-Unanimous vote at UN to repudiate US blockade of Cuba” World Socialist Web Site, 1 November 2007 http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/nov2007/cuba-n01.shtml.