Cuba, absent yet present at the summit

[La Razon, Bolivia]



La Nacion, Chile

Making Sense of the U.S. Blockade of Cuba


"What distinguishes Cuba from China or Vietnam in the eyes of the United States? Ö When Castro enrolled Cuba in the socialist camp in the midst of the Cold War - the U.S. simply couldn't permit the installation of hostile bases that, in case of war, might impede navigation in the Gulf of Mexico."


By Raul Sohr


Translated By Elise Nussbaum


April 19, 2009


Chile - La Nacion - Original Article (Spanish)

What distinguishes Cuba from China or Vietnam in the eyes of the United States? All three countries are ruled by communist parties and define democracy from an economic and social perspective. First and most important to all of their ideologues is that people have food, health, housing and education. What use is freedom if they live in misery and ignorance? For decades the question has been formulated in various ways. Democracy, from the standpoint of what is known as social realism, is the right of the masses to enjoy the benefits of economic progress. The political dimension is relegated, for the sake of national harmony, to a later phase - a phase unknown to every nation ever led by a communist party. This means that there are no competitive elections to guarantee equal conditions to all participants - there is no freedom of the press or opinion. For those who cross the lines of tolerated dissent, harassment, jail or exile await.


Although the three socialist states share these characteristics, they are treated very differently by Washington. China and Vietnam have full political relations with the United States, despite the fact that the U.S. battled the Chinese in Korea and fought its longest war in Vietnam, where it lost 58,000 men. This past doesn't impede a blossoming trade with the two Asian countries.


So what's the reason for enforcing a trade embargo with Cuba which has already lasted half a century - particularly when it's obvious that the blockade hasn't achieved the desired objectives? The Cuban regime has had the capacity to survive frontal attacks like the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, a multitude of covert operations and aggressions of various kinds. Havana today all but carries on normal trade with every country but the United States. Has the embargo affected the island? It has of course hurt Cuba by making it poorer, but that hasn't been enough to trigger regime change. On the contrary, many believe that the siege has helped cause a majority of the population to close ranks behind the government.



[El Nuevo Diario, Nicaragua]


Cubaís biggest problem in the context of international relations is that it's a small island in very close proximity to the U.S. Being in the Caribbean, Cuba rests in a body of water that Washington considers its own by right - as in the Monroe Doctrine, which in 1823 maintained that a safe and friendly Latin America required the presence of the United States.



The shamelessness shown by some in the U.S. press during the campaign to wrest Cuba from the hands of the Spanish [the Spanish-American War] has gone down in the annals of journalism. Bored because no fighting had broken out, a photographer sent to Havana to cover the impending war asked his publisher, William Randolph Hearst, if he could return home. Hearst responded, "You provide the photos, Iíll provide the war."


The 1898 conflict was brief, and President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed at its conclusion, "it was a splendid little war, the best we ever had." The victory allowed the U.S. to obtain the now sadly infamous base/prison at Guantanamo Bay. In 1903, Washington was granted a lease to the land in perpetuity. It was all part of its plan to keep the Caribbean under full U.S. control.


[Editor's Note: Actually, Roosevelt wasn't president until after Cuba was in American hands. In order to participate in the war, Roosevelt resigned as assistant secretary of the Navy and joined the famed "Rough Riders" - an infantry division. The quote that the author refers to was taken from a letter to Roosevelt by his friend, who was U.S. ambassador to England].


[El Espectador, Colombia]


Later on, Cuba became a kind of Las Vegas, a place where American tourists could give free rein to their fantasies. At the time of the revolution, Havana counted 270 registered brothels and thousands of bars with women, men and children to satisfy the desires of visitors. American businesses controlled 90 percent of production. The fall of Fulgencio Batista, who was backed by Washington, gave way in 1959 to the regime headed by Fidel Castro. The nationalization of many farms and ranches is the technical cause - and it has been argued that the embargo was imposed due to a lack of compensation. But when Castro enrolled Cuba in the socialist camp in the midst of the Cold War - the U.S. simply couldn't permit the installation of hostile bases that, in case of war, might impede navigation in the Gulf of Mexico.††



At the same time, the exodus of thousands of Cubans to settle in the United States was a phenomenon that took on a life of its own. Many of the exiles became prosperous businessmen and influential politicians. The state of Florida, essential in presidential elections, couldn't ignore the immigrant vote. The anti-Castro rancor of many of them was in direct proportion to the maltreatment they suffered before leaving Cuba. Thus the Cuban question became a motif of U.S. domestic politics.


Today there's a new generation of Cubans in the United States, Fidel Castro is no longer in power and the embargo doesn't serve the slightest useful purpose. There are no valid reasons, from the standpoint of political realism, to continue to exclude Cuba from the fraternity of nations to which it belongs.
















































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US April 20, 1:19am]