A Rerun of the Embargo Show
Cuban authorities, as has been their custom for years, have launched a
new campaign against the U.S. embargo, taking advantage of the start of
high-level United Nations General Assembly sessions. The worn-out script
began with a press conference by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of
Foreign Affairs, in Havana on September 20. The only thing that could be
called new was the announcement that the cumulative damage to the
economy is now calculated to be one 1.76 trillion dollars. It is not
known where he got this figure or how it was calculated.
Of course, the minister omitted the fact that the United States is one
of Cuba's principal commercial trading partners and that, according to
official statistical annuals, supplied more than 4.1 billion dollars in
food products from 2001 to 2002, making it the main provider of these
commodities during this period.
He also forgot to mention that, thanks to President Obama's easing of
restrictions, approximately 400,000 members of the Cuban community
arrive in that country annually. They provide substantial help to their
families and friends, and their remittances constitute 85% of one of the
chief sources of hard-currency earnings for Cuba. There has also been an
easing in restrictions limiting the direct shipment of packages and
money meant to aid family members. All this disproves the fallacy that
the embargo has stiffened under the Obama administration.
If the Cuban government is not purchasing medications, it is because of
its perennial financial insolvency. All the world's other countries are
willing to sell Cuba all the goods its requires — including products
from the United States — provided it can pay. This is the real problem
for the Elder of the Antilles, now a parasite state.
In addition to the damage brought on by the embargo, it would be
appropriate to evaluate the disasters caused by a regime which for
fifty-three years has destroyed the very foundations of the nation.
It is worth asking how much the destruction of the sugar industry, the
backbone of the economy, has cost the country. Or the destruction of the
livestock sector, another national treasure, now devastated to the point
of not being able to guarantee that children over seven years old have a
liter of milk or a piece of meat, something Cubans hardly recognize anymore.
One should consider the destruction of coffee and cocoa production, and
the fact that a prominently agricultural country now imports 80% of its
food, including such staples as yucca (cassava) to supply the tourism
industry, as has been recently reported in the official press.
Perhaps the American embargo is responsible for the poor quality of new
construction, which develops leaks immediately after completion and has
many other problems. Are U.S. administrations responsible for Cubans not
having access to the internet and the human knowledge to be gained from it?
Is the United States responsible for the continued decapitalization of
Cuba, or for the fact that it invests half of what other Latin American
countries do, causing it to sink progressively into backwardness?
Can external factors be blamed because people in the principal inland
cities have to get around in wagons and carts pulled by horses, or
because farmers have access only to old hoes and mule teams?
Have external factors caused the destruction of a large part of the
roadway infrastructure and the housing supply? Are they responsible for
the insignificant amount of housing construction, which has led to
overcrowding for generations of Cubans? Or that 50% to 60% of piped
water is lost due to the poor condition of water mains and the
inadequate state of plumbing in homes? Or that the nation's electrical
energy system is showing signs of collapse due to obsolete Soviet and
Czech thermo-electrical plants, most of which have been in use for forty
years without adequate maintenance, and some of which are fueled by
high-sulfur heating oil?
Is it because of an imperialist plot that the health care system is
falling to pieces, as Cuban doctors recently claimed? Or that Calixto
García Hospital finds itself in a calamitous state, with only ten of its
thirty operating rooms even able to function. Or that, meanwhile, the
other great "achievement" of the revolution — education — is marked by a
drop in the quality of instruction?
Perhaps it is because of a sinister CIA scheme that Cuba will have an
unsustainable population base by 2035, with more than 34% of the
populace over 60 years of age, according to the National Bureau of
One might mention the many calamities resulting from completely
irrational decisions taken over the course of the last fifty-three years
which have cost the nation hundreds of billions of dollars. These would
include programs such as the character deforming country schools, the
Cordón de La Habana, the Revolutionary offensive of 1968, the Harvest of
Ten Million, the social workers, the emerging and comprehensive
teachers, and many more of the mad ideas that seem to have been schemes
intended to ruin the country.
Was it an international plot to fragment Cuban society by separating
families and causing personal upheaval by forcing people to abandon
their homeland? Who is to blame for the growing marginalization of
society, the runaway growth of corruption at all levels, the fifth
largest rate of incarceration in the world, or the acceptance of new
moral and ethical codes which justify any actions as means of survival
in the the jungle that Cuba has become? All this has resulted in the
greatest loss of moral values of all time.
It is clear that, by the time he realized that the country was on the
edge of a precipice, President Raúl Castro was already aware of many of
these problems. However, his commitment to the past seems not to have
allowed him to take effective measures to rectify, at least in some way,
all the damage caused to the nation that was unrelated to external factors.
It is hoped that the resolution on the embargo, which is scheduled for a
vote on for November 13, will once again condemn it. We have never
supported the embargo, which has been used by the Cuban government as a
justification for all its failures and repression.
However, to condemn only the embargo is a decision that would not take
into account the most important aspect of the Cuban experience, which is
the blockade imposed by authorities preventing the people from realizing
their potential and from enjoying their rights. We, therefore, feel it
would be fitting that the resolution to be approved, in addition to
condensing the American embargo, also demand that the Cuban government
take the following steps:
That the National Assembly of People's Power ratify the the
International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the
International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, endorsed in
writing by the government on December 10, 2008.
Democratic countries would make a great contribution to the Cuban people
if a balanced resolution were approved in the current session of the
United Nations General Assembly.
Translated from Cubaencuentro
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Havana
25 September 2012