By Dan Ehrlich
A delegation of Russian commerce officials was visiting Cuba this week to further enhance trade relations between the two nations. This makes me ask: Why isn’t the US, only 90 miles away, doing business with Cuba instead of Russia, a country sanctioned by most of the developed world?
Of course, we know the answer. Just as Russia is being sanctioned for its war with Ukraine, Cuba has been the target of America’s ire since 1959, the longest trade embargo in modern times. The reason: A communist government was installed there.
And in case you have forgotten, it’s all part of a monumental hypocrisy based on the US’s bigoted view that all communist governments are bad and to be shunned, while right-wing anti-communist governments are good. Someone better tell President Biden, China, America’s biggest trading partner, is a communist nation a hundred times bigger, more powerful and more repressive than Cuba. Sanctions on China? Walmart wouldn’t allow it.
And what about Central America’s anti-communist governments the US helped install? Nicaragua and El Salvador, two of the most violent nations on earth, have done away with legitimate democracy being governed by strong men. Yet, here too it’s business as usual with the US, including record numbers of immigrants heading to the US from these harsh Central American dictatorships.
Cuba, for some now vague reason (Regime Change? remains sanctioned by the US. And it makes no sense given the US’s hypocritical cherry-picking method of sanctioning nations it doesn’t like.
The US hasn’t gained a thing from the embargo except for millions of refugees who have had enough of the communist rule and poverty that has accompanied it…poverty that has largely been due to the embargo.
The Cuban diaspora in the United States is comprised of nearly 2.7 million individuals who were either born in Cuba or reported Cuban ancestry or race, according to tabulations from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 count. And these numbers keep increasing, part of the record number of illegal migrants arriving at the Mexican border from countries the US has either sanctioned or supported.
Venezuela is another nation sanctioned by the US for its alleged rigged voting system that keeps a pretender to the leadership in power. No matter how well-intentioned this may have been, as with Cuba, it has created such economic hardships that more than 6.1 million refugees and migrants have left Venezuela as a result of the political turmoil, socio-economic instability and the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
What the US doesn’t seem to understand as the regional superpower, it’s not Spain in 1492, forcing its ideology on other nations. It has no legitimate right to lay siege and harm other people because they don’t embrace democracy.
This bigoted blinkered socio/political mentality has left the US with a grossly incompetent foreign policy in the region, one where everyone loses, even the US. On one hand, there’s the Cuban embargo creating poverty and endless numbers of US-bound immigrants and on the other, there are US-backed right-wing dictators whose harsh regimes have created thousands of fleeing US-bound immigrants.
There’s bit of irony in all this with some migrants saying, ‘Since you ruined our countries, we’ll come to yours.’
On a broader level, every nation shunned by the US winds up aligning itself with Russia.
“It is long past time for us to normalize relations with Cuba,” US Senator Elizabeth Warren said of bipartisan legislation in the works that would end the trade embargo. Warren said. “This legislation takes important steps to remove barriers for U.S. trade and relations between our two countries and moves us in the right direction by increasing economic opportunities for Americans and the Cuban people.”
But, there’s plenty of opposition to this move. It’s as if these politicians are frozen in time when the 1962 Cuban missile crisis was the hot topic and Fidel Castro a hate figure in the US.
In the end, we are still left with that question: What in Hell Has Cuba Ever done to the US to deserve this treatment and when will it end?