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End that vicious blockade of Cuba

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For 15 straight years the United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to end the 45 year inhumane blockade of Cuba by the United States of America, Big Brother. Unfortunately this is symbolic and has become a mere ritual because the power rests with the Security Council not with the General Assembly and in any event the United States of America has a veto that it is prepared to use whenever necessary.

The construction of world politics and the power plays that give the major powers and the sole superpower the wherewithal to resist the demands of the majority of the nations of the world make a mockery of democracy in more ways than one. The US embargo imposed after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 is as senseless and barbaric as can be imagined.{{more}} What has the US been able to achieve over those 45 years with the imposition of its embargo? Castro is still president, though ailing. It is only the people of Cuba who have been affected. It takes an asinine mentality to continue to pursue something after its demonstrated failure over a period of 45 years.

Over US$70 million has been spent during the years on what the US authorities consider their programme to promote democracy in Cuba. Let us, however, not only blame our friend Bush for the policy has remained regardless of the administration in power in the United States of America. True enough it has reached the height of absurdity, vulgarity and brutality under the Bush Republicans. Recently it has been revealed by the Government Accountability office that most of the money allocated to the so-called Cuban democratic programme has been mismanaged. HARDBEATNEWS.COM (Daily Caribbean Diaspora News) of November 21st reported; “Auditors say that one US-funded group spent the funds on a gas chain saw, computer gaming equipment (including Nintendo Game Boys and Sony Play stations) and soft ware, a mountain bike, leather coats, cashmere sweaters, crab meat and Godiva chocolates.” It is the same nonsense that went on and is still going on in Iraq.

It should be a serious embarrassment to Bush and his administration that the vote ended 183-4 with only Israel among its friends voting with it. As I had indicated in my column last week, the other nations that voted with the USA were of course, the USA itself and the South Pacific nations of the Marshall Islands and Palau with Micronesia also in the South Pacific abstaining. Really the USA, or more specifically the Bush Administration, does not understand the meaning of embarrassment. I don’t believe it is in its lexicon. This is what wealth and power (actually they mean the same thing), does to one, individual or country.

I have called the embargo barbaric because it is the Cuban people who are suffering because of it. But then the administration turns this on its head by coming back and saying that they have introduced these policies because the Cubans are suffering, forgetting that the people are suffering primarily because of their backward policies. Over the years all sorts of committees were established with one goal in mind, getting rid of Castro and his administration at all cost. Americans who visit Cuba do it at a great cost since there are penalties that are imposed on them. Even academics travelling to academic conferences in Cuba suffer this same absurd treatment.

I have noticed that in St.Vincent and the Grenadines there is growing criticism of Cuba and quite often the persons who are behind this are really trying to make a statement about Dr. Gonsalves, suggesting that he wants to bring this country like Cuba but Cuba is Cuba and St.Vincent and the Grenadines is St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Cuba has a proud history and has made remarkable achievements despite the barriers and obstacles and the US primitive embargo. The Cuban government and Cuban politics have emerged out of a particular history. The Cuban style of government cannot be imposed on St.Vincent and the Grenadines. In fact, had it not been for the American embargo and the American hostility and attempts to overthrow the government, Cuba would have been a different society.

Cuba has the sympathy of most of the world because of its remarkable achievements in the face of all the Americans have pushed at it. Cuba has thousands of doctors operating all over the world and it does this not because it wants to make the rest of the world Communist. The Cubans are not stupid people. They could never think that these efforts of theirs can spread Communism. Cuba has been expressing solidarity with peoples all over the world for a long time. It has come to the aid of many countries in times of disaster. Vincentians have benefited from Cuban scholarships and we know, among other things, of the Vision Now programme. Cuba is no bed of roses. Cuba has its fair share of problems, probably more than most, but it has made tremendous strides in education, health and sports. It has done all of this to such an extent that many of us seem to forget that Cuba is a poor, developing country.

We do not have to love the Cuban system or to want the system introduced into our country. We have to accept the fact that Cuba has been the victim of vicious and barbaric policies for some time now and that despite this they continue to exist proudly and defiantly. What is ridiculous too is that America is prepared to trade and has been trading with other Communist countries including China. In fact China has at different times been given special trading privileges. Isn’t all of this hypocrisy to the highest? Apart from some warped ideological thinking Bush is catering to the Cuban – American community and pandering to its whims and fancies. These are to a large extent made up of people who wait in Miami dreaming of moving back to Cuba with the intention of controlling and devouring the resources of the country.

I am not in all of this trying to paint a rosy picture of Cuba, because there is no such picture and there are lots of things about which one can be critical. But admittedly it is easy to sit back and say this is so because of the embargo and the threats from America. If the embargo was to be removed and America was to change its policy of hostility, then Cuba would not be able to use these things as excuses.

It will then have to stand up to world scrutiny and be counted. What will be the position of the Democratic controlled Congress? I will hate to think that it is prepared to lend support to the stupid and archaic policies of President Bush. Vincentians should not allow any criticisms of the government and policies of Prime Minister Gonsalves to blind themselves to the real story behind Cuba and the assistance and solidarity that the Cubans have been expressing with disadvantaged peoples in the Caribbean and around the world.

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