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U.S. embargo on Cuba: A 50 years-old crime

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By Nicolas Mottas and Myrsini Tsakiri* .

Since 1960 the U.S. governments maintain and tighten the economic embargo against the island of Cuba -- the longest embargo posed on any country. The reasons for which the United States enacted the alienation of Cuba are exclusively a product of the Cold War period. Fifty years later, none of these reasons exist anymore. What remains is an inhuman commercial and economic blockade that violates the U.N. Charter, restricts Cubans from acquiring certain goods and blows Washington's international reputation even more.

After the end of the Cold War, the concern regarding the lift of the sanctions against Cuba has been rised significantly. The blockade has been proved as a major obstacle to the country's further financial development and has been condemned by a number of U.N. resolutions. Last October, for the 19th time, the U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of lifting the embargo -- yet, the only superpower in the world continues to pose commercial restrictions against a nation of 11 million people.

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This small nation poses not even the smallest threat for the United States, yet the supporters of the embargo continue blaming the Castro administration and its supposed "anti-americanism". However, it was the Fidel Castro-led revolution which ended a long-period of oppression and disastrous misrule in the 1950s. For almost five decades now, despite the various wobbles in the global capitalist system, Cuba experiences political and economic stability. The country manages its own national resources without the interference of american companies which were sqeezing Cuba's national wealth during Fulgencio Batista's years.

Despite its inefficiences, the Castro government proved all these years that a nation is capable of being self-efficient even in a capitalist, profit-addicted international economic environment. Even under the blockade, the Cuban administration has shown a remarkabe endurance, both politically and economically. Everybody can understand that the resistance of Havana is quite unpleasant for all those who design and promote the greedy modern neoliberalism. The embargo plays the role of a "continuous punishment"; travel restrictions, ban on subsidiary trade, humanitarian aid blockade, denial of accessing medical supplies and equipment.

According to a 1997 report by the American Association for World Health "the U.S. embargo of Cuba has dramatically hearmed the health and nutrition of large numbers of ordinary Cuban citizens". The same report assumes that " the U.S. embargo has caused a significant rise in suffering-and even deaths-in Cuba " while the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (U.S. Congress) had contributed significantly to the increase of the number of unmet medical needs patients going without essential drugs. On that we should add the restriction of access over medical equipment and water treatment chemicals. Against these mounting obstacles, the Cuban government successfully managed to maintain high levels of budgetary support to the health care system, thus avoiding an uncpreceded humanitarian disaster for the island.

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The current U.S. President moves one step forward and two steps back on the issue. He decides to ease the travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans and, on the same time, extends the blockade for one more year because it is "in the national interests of the United States". However, it was Mr. Obama himself who, in 2004, had called the embargo policy a "failure". " I think it's time for us to end the embargo with Cuba" It's time for us to acknowledge that that particular policy has failed" , he had stated during a speech at Southern Illinois University. Quite a hypocrisy for such a popular President.

The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 which strengthens the embargo refers to "a peaceful transition to a representative democracy and market economy in Cuba" . It is clear that the Cubans are being punished all these years for not submitting to the actual existing capitalist system -- they "pay the price" for their "audacity" to confront colonialism and capitalism during the Cold War period. The symbolism is apparent: How can a communist state exists just 90 miles south of Florida?

Fifty years since it was enacted, the embargo against Cuba consists a form of modern apartheid and colonization effort in the 21st century. It is in the hands of the international community, along with the support of the progressive American people, to put an end to this crime against the Cuban nation. 


* Nicolas Mottas is a graduate of Political Science and Diplomatic Studies (University of Westminster & Diplomatic Academy of London), a MA candidate in Conflict Resolution and Mediation (Tel Aviv University) and a freelance article writer.

* Myrsini Tsakiri is the founder and administrator of the blog "Sierra Maestra".

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Aris Claras is a writer based in Greece.

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