By Johannes Werner
For the 22nd time, the United Nations General Assembly voted, overwhelmingly, in favor of a non-binding resolution submitted by Cuba, urging the United States to lift the embargo.
This time around, it was 188 in favor, and just the United States and Israel against. Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, historically the only other U.S. allies on this issue, abstained this year.
I’m not envying Ronald Godard for the speech he had to give before the General Assembly.
“The United States is a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people,” the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said, in defending the more than half-century old U.S. sanctions.
Let me qualify Mr. Godard’s statement. When it comes to the embargo, maybe the U.S. government is a friend of some abstract notion of Cuba, but certainly not of the vast majority of actual Cuban people. In my years of roaming the island and talking to scores of Cubans of all walks of life, much of it in private, I have yet to find a single one who speaks out for the U.S. embargo. In fact, most Cubans are quite passionate about whacking what they call el bloqueo. And that includes quite a few Cubans who could care less about their government.
In a nutshell: The U.S. government is shoving the embargo down the throats of close to 11 million people in Cuba. Total population on the island, by the way, is 11.2 million.
Another argument U.S. officials like to bring up: Cuba can trade with any nation in the world, except the United States.
Yeah, right. First of all, imagine the shape of the Canadian economy if that country were cut off from the U.S. market. That’s the kind of challenge the Cuban economy has been facing for the past 20 years. When you have absorbed that, consider that the financial embargo amounts to a blockade. Cuba is not only cut off from receiving multilateral loans, but the Obama Administration is apparently trying to beat even the W. Bush Administration in catching instances in which any financial entity around the globe makes U.S. dollar transactions involving a Cuban party. Then consider that nearly all commodities, including oil, wheat, or fertilizer, are traded in dollars. This makes most financial transactions with Cuba either very expensive, or unpredictable.
The embargo policy not only goes against the proper interest of the United States of America. It’s against the interests of the Cuban people; therefore, it’s cruel.
Johannes Werner is editor of Cuba Standard