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Should the US Embargo Against Cuba Continue?

18 May 2009 6 Comments

The United States embargo against Cuba has been in place since 1962.   In international politi-speak, an embargo is the prohibition of commerce and trade with a country.  The purpose is to cause the government of that country to have internal conflict as its economy suffers in consequence of the sanctions.    In “The Cuban Democracy Act” of 1992,  the US formally mandated continuing embargo as long as the Castro regime refuses to progress toward democratization and greater respect for human rights.   In 1996, Congress further restricted US citizens from doing business with Cuba, prohibiting any public or private assistance to the Castro regime and any successor regime, unless certain conditions demonstrating approach to a democratic form of governance were met.

In Iraq, I had seen the devastating consequences of the twenty years of economic sanctions.  Not only were the hospitals bare of the most basic of medicines, causing hundreds of thousands of people to die of readily curable illnesses- but even the medical textbooks were archaic.  Iraqi doctors had not had the benefits of advances in medical science for twenty years.  This, my only experience with embargo, I could not help but suppose that embargo is in general a bad thing concocted by politicians for questionable ends of power mongering at the expense of the people.

“What will the new Obama administration do about the embargo?” I wondered, while riding in Manuel’s cab.

To my surprise, Manuel said that as a second generation Cuban American, he had mixed feelings about whether or not the embargo should be continued.  He explained that Cuban Americans are happy that President Obama has now made it possible for Cuban Americans to visit their families in Cuba.  But he said that there is dissension within the Cuban community about the embargo.  Specifically, while younger Cuban Americans are interested in commerce potentials, older Cuban Americans as a group remain in favor of continuing the embargo, to generate pressure for a conversion of the Cuban government to democracy.  The older Cuban Americans remember too well the human rights violations experienced under Castro.

Unconvinced, I asked Manuel: “Isn’t it far-fetched to imagine that a dictator like Fidel Castro or even his brother Raoul would one day say ‘ O.k., I won’t be dictator any more- we can have a democracy.’ ? ”

Manuel’s response was ready:  “Perhaps- but the embargo provides the basis for dialogue about democracy.  Without the embargo there would be no road to discussion.”

6 Comments »

  • Jamie Holts said:

    Thanks for posting the article, it was certainly a great read! I have read through some of your other posts and like your writing style. I will read your posts frequently! Added you to the RSS feeder…

  • Daily News About Cuba : A few links about Cuba - Tuesday, 19 May 2009 04:11 said:

    I posted this article in The Opportunity Cafe in the daily news about Cuba…

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