Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U.S. embargo of Cuba is 50 years old today

News Analysis - Nothing to celebrate on this Golden Anniversary, either in Washington or Havana

The Cold War economic embargo of the island nation which is but 100 miles off the Florida keys was imposed by president John F. Kennedy on this date five decades ago. Measured by the goal of removing the Castro regime, its declared purpose, the embargo has been a miserable failure and an example of disastrous foreign policy. Fidel and Raul Castro still control Cuba, and they've outlasted 10 successive American presidents - 11 counting Barack Obama.

Cuba calculates that the embargo has cost the island nation (adjusting for inflation and currency changes) over $1 trillion USD since 1962. But the embargo has taken its economic toll on the United States, too. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a 2009 report - harshly critical of the embargo on purely pragmatic grounds - that maintaining it strips America's economy of $1.2 billion per year in lost sales and exports. Last fall, for the 20th consecutive year, the United Nations called upon the United States to abandon the embargo immediately - by a vote of 186-2.

Cuba says that 70% of its citizens alive today were born after the embargo was imposed, and have been subjected to its crippling economic effects. Four or five generations of Cubans have had to endure a U.S. policy consistently supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, despite its complete lack of measurable success - other than to punish ordinary people who have no control over ideological disputes.

In both Washington and Havana, the "golden anniversary" of the embargo was noted and observed in highly predictable ways. Several members of Congress, among them a few hard line Florida Republicans, continued their denunciation of the Castro regime - much like their brethren no doubt were doing 50 years ago today - and justified the embargo as a "moral imperative." The Cuban government responded with its own volley of dated rhetoric.

It's almost enough to conjure up faded visions from the past: president Kennedy warning the nation on a chilly evening in October 1962 that nuclear Armageddon was at hand; the ensuing Cuban Missile Crisis which took the world right to the brink; Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev taking off his shoe in a moment of anger and banging it against the speaker's podium at the United Nations two years earlier; and Castro's own special appearance at the U.N., boldly striding in among all the suit-and-tie diplomats in his trademark olive green military fatigues.

The French have a saying which is apropos: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - the more things change, the more they stay the same. So it is between the United States of America and the Republic of Cuba. But it is time to take the first step towards changing a long-outdated policy of strangulation and isolation. It is time to permanently retire the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

Nov. 13 - For the 21st consecutive year, the United Nations condemns the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba - this time by a vote of 188-3.

La Guerra Fría ya terminó. Creo que hemos realzado a Castro por más de 40 años, le impusimos estas sanciones, y esto sólo ha servido para convertirnos en su excusa. El ahora puede atribuir la culpa de todo lo malo a Estados Unidos. Creo que llegó la hora de poner fin a este negocio del aislamiento.
"The Cold War is over. We've actually boosted Castro for more than 40 years with the economic sanctions against him, and we've made ourselves into his excuse (for retaining power). He can lay full responsibility for everything gone wrong in Cuba on the United States. I think that the time has come to end this business of isolating Cuba." --
Ron Paul, Jan. 23, 2012

Why the Cuban Embargo should be abandoned: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/11/us-embargo-of-cuba.html.
Newt Gingrich spews the same old Cold War rhetoric on Cuba: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/gingrich-spews-same-old-cold-war.html.
Alan Gross exposed: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/alan-gross-us-agent-who-knew-what-he.html.
U.S. citizen arrested in Havana fuels speculation: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/us-citizen-arrested-in-havana-amid.html.
Hemingway Bar opens at Cuban consulate in Washington: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/hemingway-bar-opens-in-cuban-diplomatic.html.
What does Che Guevara have to do with Mercedes-Benz?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-does-che-guevara-have-to-do-with.html.

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