By: Dr. Kevin Turnquest-Alcena
After 50 years as an organization, the Caricom has been ineffective at having the Cuban embargo lifted. It’s a travesty that America is still trying to weaponize Cuba in this modern day and time.
To my inquiring readers, what is an embargo one may ask? Well, according to Wikipedia it is, “the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country or state or group of countries.” Four countries the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) have implemented U.S. sanctions against are: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
The continuous and age old assault on Cuba is tantamount to immoral conduct. They are willing to work with countries such as: Vietnam, whom they were at war with and China because of some benefit to them, then why not Cuba?
We have to collectively find a way for America to understand that Cuba needs to be a part of and coexist with the global community. It is time America realizes Cuba’s political system, as well as the structure of how Cuba achieves its revolution is not going to disappear.
Robert Zubrin stated that, “The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is almost completely ineffective, as many other countries, including the European Union, do not honor it.” The Biden Administration must consider the realities of the Cuban people. Yes, the there are some deep geo-politics in regards to individuals who do not like what is going on in Cuba, but it does not negate the fact that this issue needs to be readdressed.
Former President Barak Obama understood the need for open dialogue about the embargo as was stated in his address to the Cuban people during his visit to Havana. He said that, “...on December 17th 2014, President Castro and I announced that the United States and Cuba would begin a process to normalize relations between our countries. Since then, we have established diplomatic relations and opened embassies. We've begun initiatives to cooperate on health and agriculture, education and law enforcement. We've reached agreements to restore direct flights and mail service. We've expanded commercial ties, and increased the capacity of Americans to travel and do business in Cuba.”
In February 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba, in response to certain actions taken by the Cuban Government, and directed the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury to implement the embargo. The Cuban embargo solely exists because they stand in solidarity, choosing to operate their political system the way they want.
This continued condemnation by America is unjust and inhumane, especially for a country that promotes freedom of speech. This embargo has majorly impacted the Cuban economy and has resulted in a $144 billion loss in the trading economy.
While the ultimate goal of the embargo was to cripple the economy and force President Fidel Castro’s hand in changing his style of governing, all efforts have failed in this respect.
The embargo limits the people of Cuba from accessing the internet to support their small businesses, take online U.S. courses, and use financial services like PayPal, yet Cuba has continued to exist and survive without the support of the American government.
America claims that the embargo is for the betterment of the Cuban people, yet it does more harm to the people than good. Its licensing requirements prevent food, medicine, medical equipment and humanitarian aid assistance from reaching Cubans.
Nonetheless, these restrictions have only encouraged the Cuban people to be innovative in their approach to taking care of the citizens of their country. Cuba managed to develop its own COVID-19 vaccine. Their development included the research, production, and rollout of the vaccine, which resulted in a 90% vaccination rate.
Cuba has educated Africa and The Caribbean in medicine and engineering, just to name a few. They now have over 2,000 institutes as result of the 1959 revolution.
Cuba has developed one of the best healthcare systems in the world. This was achieved by instituting 23 medical schools and educating those students for free. This has resulted in one of the highest doctor to patient ratios in the world, 8 for every 1,000 citizen.
Gender equality is also held in high regard with women having just has much opportunities for education as men. Cuba ranks second in the world in terms of most female representation in the country’s main governing body with a Congress that is 53 percent female. Education is the under lying cause of such achievements with Cuba having a 96% literacy rate.
So, the real question is, has the embargo really attained its goal of suppressing the Cuban country? Has it really achieved its aim of stopping trade with other countries?
The resounding answer is No! Daniel 2:21 says, “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”
Hence, this then begs the question as to what is America’s present goal for reinforcing the embargo? What purpose does it really serve for continuing their separation from Cuba? Would it not be more beneficial and useful if they worked with Cuba, rather than against them?
The reality is after 60 years of oppressing Cuba through the embargo, it has still not altered their political systems and way of life. As Allison Pujol writer for The Michigan Daily said, “Cuba’s heads of states recognized fairly quickly that the United States was not essential to the island’s economic future. And thus, like the embargo, Cuba’s one-party system has remained intact with little to no visible change.” I end with the words of the man at the center of it all: “Capitalism has no moral and ethical values: everything is for sale... it is impossible to educate people in such an environment: people become selfish, and sometimes turn into bandits” (Fidel Castro).