[OP-ED]: How Much Longer for the Failed Cuban Embargo?
It is said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. And when it comes to U.S.-Cuba relations, the old dictum fits like a glove.
So much so that on October 27, the U.N. General Assembly will overwhelmingly condemn for the 25th time the embargo to Cuba imposed by –listen to this—President John F. Kennedy 54 years ago. Shamefully for the U.S., since 1992, the first year Cuba presented its resolution against that abusive policy, Washington has found itself utterly alone, opposed by practically the whole world.
This year, despite the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries after more than half a century of relentless enmity, and the reopening of their respective embassies, the story will be the same: the blockade, a failed zombie-like policy whose only real effect has been making life harder for the Cuban people, remains in force. As a result, the U.S. will find itself once more rejected by the entire world, with the possible exception of Israel.
Yes, hard as it may be to believe after the Rolling Stones concert, the fabulous Chanel fashion show in the streets of Havana, the reestablishment of commercial flights, the steep rise in the number of U.S. visitors and the hundreds of American business people eager to profit from the new opening in Cuba, the fact is that the longest embargo in history remains fundamentally unchanged.
Most people would agree that it doesn’t make sense, but this month the U.S. extended the economic blockade for another year even though not even Miami Cuban-Americans support it any longer.
According to a poll recently released by Florida International University and quoted by the Center for Democracy in the Americas in its Cuba Central newsletter, 63 percent of all respondents in Miami-Dade County are opposed to the embargo; and, of those, 72 percent of Cuban Americans aged 18 to 59 oppose the embargo. Besides, 64 percent of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County “strongly favor” or “mostly favor” President Obama’s policy changes toward Cuba. Registered voters, who comprised 55 percent of respondents, support the policy changes.
Yet, the cruel and counterproductive blockade still stands.
“The blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba persists,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said in Havana at the beginning of the month. Urging President Obama to take stronger steps against the cruel policy, the Cuban minister said the embargo has cost Cuba $4.6 billion from April 2015 through March 2016 and a mind-boggling $125.9 billion since the it was imposed in 1962. “The blockade is the main cause of the economy's problems and an obstacle to development,” he added.
Incomprehensible is the financial persecution of Cuba that continues unabated and makes global businesses and financial institutions afraid of doing business in the island.
Despite having repeatedly expressed his opposition to the embargo, during Obama’s tenure the Treasury Department has imposed fines for more than $14 billion both to U.S. and foreign banks for doing business with Cuba, severely undermining the island’s economy. Last time I checked this was called hypocrisy.
The sooner the hypocritical embargo policy is cast to the ash heap of history, where it belongs, the better.