Monday, November 3, 2008

U.N to USA: "End the Cuba Embargo!"

photo caption: No U.S. autos post-1960's exist in Cuba. Since it is expensive to import cars from across the oceans, they keep these old vehicles in operation. This is a typical street in scene in Havana; cars are relatively uncommon.
And from the "news you won't hear on CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, ABC, ETC ETC ETC Dept.":

Massive UN Vote Supports Lifting US Embargo on Cuba--The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for the 17th year in a row to demand an end to the 46-year-old US trade embargo on communist-ruled Cuba, with only three countries saying no [United States, Israel and Palau].

Some 185 of the assembly's 192 members approved a resolution, which reiterated a "call upon all states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures (such as those in the US embargo) in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law." [What! The USA conform??]

The margin of support for ending the embargo has grown steadily since 1992, when 59 countries voted in favor of the resolution. The figure was 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 184 in 2007.

Ronald Godard, the US State Department's senior advisor for Latin American affairs, defended the embargo and blamed the communist regime in Havana for Cuba's woes. [insert your own anti-American snark here!]

"The real reason the Cuban economy is in terrible condition and that so many Cubans remain mired in poverty is that Cuba's regime continues to deny its people their basic human and economic rights," he told the General Assembly. [And our embargo denied the Cuban children and elderly their basic immunizations, antibiotics, cancer medications, psychotropic meds...anything developed in the US since the 1960's]

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque welcomed the vote but also looked ahead to future US-Cuban relations after next week's White House election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

[Background, in case you didn't know]: The US economic, trade and financial sanctions were imposed 46 years ago following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of the Caribbean island nation by US-backed Cuban exiles.

Noting that the US embargo is "older than Barack Obama and my entire generation," [YIKES!!] Perez Roque said the new US president "will have to decide whether to concede that the embargo is a failed policy which each time creates greater isolation and discredits his country or whether he continues, with obstinacy and cruelty, to try to wear out the Cuban people with hunger and diseases."

McCain has promised that if elected he would press Cuba's communist rulers to free the island's people. "If I'm elected president, I won't meet unconditionally with the Castro brothers, [Oh, he's a maverick alright] while they keep political prisoners in jail, stifle free media and block free elections in Cuba," he recently told a rally in Miami, home to a huge Cuban exiled community.

The comment was a swipe at his 47-year-old Democratic rival, Obama, who has said he would meet with the leaders of countries that are enemies of the United States.

A national survey by the Zogby polling organization, released on October 2, noted that 60 percent of Americans believe the White House should change its policy towards Cuba.

In an apparent reference to Obama's campaign theme of "Change," Perez Roque said that "to be coherent with the theme of change in this country (the United States) also means to change the embargo against Cuba and maintain normal and respectful relations with our country."

But Perez Roque warned that "if group interests prevail, notably those of the Cuban (exiled) mafia which controls southern Florida and which exerts great influence, then there cannot be any progress."

In Cuba itself, authorities were jubilant after the UN vote.

It reaffirmed "the world rejection of the genocidal and criminal policy of this siege and the failure of the George W. Bush administration in its aggression against Cuba," Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, head of the Cuban Communist Party's external relations department, told the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. ["Why do they hate us so much?" clueless US citizens asked one another after 9/11.]

Read the small print for what Europe thinks:
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, France's UN deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix meanwhile said the 27-member pan-European bloc rejects "all unilateral measures against Cuba which are contrary to common accepted rules of international trade."

He said the EU believes that "the lifting of the US trade embargo would open Cuba's economy to the benefit of the Cuban people."

The embargo not only undermines the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, but also acts to "severely threaten the freedom of trade and investment."

Beyond the human rights issue, I'm peeved that this story is not reported in the US mainstream media.

After my husband and I went to Cuba on the Pastors for Peace caravan in 1998 [hit sidebar Labels "Cuba caravan" for those stories] I gave plenty of presentations/slide shows in Iowa. What I said was eye-opening new information to my audiences. I'd like to think that if the majority of us were informed that we could out-shout the Cuban-American lobby and end this embargo which even the Vatican declared "immoral."

Readers, what do you think about this? Talk to me!!


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I've never really thought much about it, BE. Thank you for bringing the issue to my attention.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

P.S. I swiped the Voter's Rights post and put it on my blog today--with a link to you, of course.

Carol said...

Since when do we listen to the U.N.? :-(

We have played God and denied too many people around the world their basic human needs.

If, after this election, you think there is a good way to put pressure on our next prez so that sanctions are lifted, B.E., I'm on board. I'm very cynical and don't believe that our government cares what I think about foreign policy, but I'm willing to be proven wrong.

thailandchani said...

I've thought the embargo is ridiculous for many years. I remember hearing the reports from delegations in the 80s, talking about the educational system in Cuba (which is quite good), the universal health care, the .. um... "economic freedom"...

While I can't cite anything specific, I suspect Cuba is doing just fine without the US.

In fact, I wonder if most people have actually considered what could occur if the embargo was lifted.

I'm more concerned about the travel ban. I'm all for lifting the embargo, as long as Cuba wants it. Otherwise, the possibility of cultural hegemony has to be considered.

Scary possibilities!


Utah Savage said...

I've been for lifting the embargo forever. What the US wants is for Cuba to once again become our little Las Vegas in the Caribbean. Little more than a whore house for the rich and lascivious gringo tourists. I do not understand our hatred of both Haiti and Cuba. Every time Haiti elects a moderate we finance and arm the rich class with more riches to overthrow the democratically elected and reinstall a strongman to keep the people down. What is wrong with us? Why do we hate progressives so much?

Ingrid said...

Amen, ditto here. It's ludicrous and there is a double standard with this embargo. Pulleeze..the US has always backed dictators in other countries when it suited embargo a small and insignificant country such as Cuba is idiocy.It's all about them testosterone of those old hard headed anti commie types in Washington..(jesse helm anyone)
there really is no reasonable reason for continuing this as there never was..
as always, thx for bringing up issues from the latino world..

Border Explorer said...

Thanks, Ruth. Mighty kind of you.

Carol, let's be cynical together. Or better: let's do the Cuba caravan together sometime.

Chani, very thoughtful response. Cuba has been preparing, just as they've been preparing for life after Castro.
I'm so with you on lifting the travel ban!

Utah, your comments are powerful...every sentence full of punch. Loving your comment!

Ingrid, ditto to you. Hugs back atcha.

Dada said...

"If I'm elected president, I won't meet unconditionally with the Castro brothers while they keep political prisoners in jail, stifle free media and block free elections in Cuba."

I wonder if McCain catches the irony of what he's saying? I mean, after all, heads of states from around the world meet with the president of the US and it keeps political prisoners in jail, stifles free media and blocks free elections doesn't it?

Border Explorer said...

A good point and well made, Dada. People get so trapped in their point of view that they don't even see how they could possibly be incorrect or wrong or inadvertently ironic. Mr. B.E. & I repeatedly discuss this dynamic because it helps us to look on this kind of hypocrisy more compassionately [i.e. with understanding of how it can exist in the world--not acceptance of its existence].

ThomasLB said...

Things probably aren't as good in Cuba as they should be, but I doubt things are as bad as the US says they are. After all that nonsense we spouted about Iraq- WMDs, anthrax, and feeding people into wood chippers, for example- America is not the unimpeachable source it once was.

I've always thought open trade was the way to go with Cuba. I think their citizens would start to ask questions like, "How come Americans can come here, but we can't go there?" I think Castro would have a little trouble with that one.

Border Explorer said...

It's pretty tough for US citizens to go to Cuba, I believe, so I don't understand your second paragraph. But I certainly understand your first one...and agree. The economy in Cuba seems to have greatly modified the extremes of economic wealth and poverty that existed under Batista. Things perhaps aren't perfect under their system, but at least the lot of the poor is much improved.