The abyss of Washington's Cuba embargo
Bobby Naderi


Editor's note: Bobby Naderi is a London-based journalist, guest contributor in print, radio and television, and documentary filmmaker. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The United States government insists that it has the moral authority to impose sanctions on the Cuban police force and its leaders in response to the Havana government's crackdown on protesters. There always seems to be some reason that makes the next act of targeting Cuba necessary and appropriate. That's because President Joe Biden has promised Cuban-American leaders more actions are coming.

The U.S. Treasury Department says the new sanctions, which appear to be largely political and symbolic, are a reaction to actions to suppress peaceful, pro-democratic protests in Cuba that began on July 11. This is while the continued economic warfare is completely at odds with the principles of the UN Charter which highlights "the right to self-determination."

Furthermore, the protests, social divide and violence have come due to persistent U.S. politics of economic asphyxiation and the fact that Washington wants to choke Havana for challenging its self-declared monopoly over human existence.

The delusion that ban is good

Trade embargo is hardly a new tactic in American geopolitics and it's just as dangerous today. What this means in reality is that it's a lie that sanctions are one set of tools in Washington's broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights and help the Cuban people exercise fundamental freedoms.

Thanks to the unwarranted embargo, Cuba is still unable to import staple foods and medicines. This goes against UN resolutions that reaffirm non-intervention and non-interference. The UN has identified such measures as adversely affecting Cuban people and blaming the embargo for shortage of life-saving medicines and staple foods.

Biden faces a key Cuba-related decision: to side with the UN and global community in the interests of America or go beyond the bounds of international morality and law, stay in the abyss of embargo and view it as a tool of power and influence, and listen to lobby groups whose stated agenda is to provoke Cuba and escalate toward a costly confrontation.

The U.S. is attempting to isolate the island nation from almost all international trade. This has caused shortages of food, medicines, energy and spare parts for basic infrastructure, including water and power grid. The unintended negative impact the embargo has had through both direct and indirect impacts cannot be ignored.

The most obvious are restrictions on the importation of certain items that are necessary for agricultural production, in particular fuel, machinery and spare parts. The draconian sanctions deliberately target these sectors with devastating impacts. They gravely exacerbate any economic mismanagement, contributing to a catastrophic fall in food production, hyperinflation, economic collapse and rising mortality.

Andres Jimenez, a retired state worker who makes masks to sell in his neighborhood, helps a girl wear face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus in Havana, Cuba, March 31, 2020. /AP

Andres Jimenez, a retired state worker who makes masks to sell in his neighborhood, helps a girl wear face mask as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus in Havana, Cuba, March 31, 2020. /AP

A history lesson ignored

The fierce sanctions against Cuba are an outright failure that are harming U.S. economic and geopolitical interests. This should lead Washington to wonder whether its favorite economic power tool has been so overused that it's becoming ineffective and counterproductive.

The colonial policy is in direct contravention of UN resolutions and principles that call on Washington to lift the economic, commercial and financial restrictions in place for several decades. As highlighted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, it's about "an economic war of extraterritorial scope against a small country already affected in the recent period by the economic crisis derived from the pandemic."

One might expect that other countries would now sidestep the unilateral sanctions, but the beltway in Washington has threatened to penalize foreign companies that violate them. It has used the dollar's global clout as a bludgeon, threatening to sanction foreign banks that finance trade with Cuba.

Despite the intense economic pain inflicted on Cuban people, Havana has never succumbed to U.S. demands. Sanctions have proved to be no more successful than military occupation and intervention in Guantanamo. The blockade has been implemented by presidential decree, with almost no public debate and no systematic oversight. Biden realizes that he can impose more restrictions with almost no direct costs to American public, and with virtually no political or international accountability in any fashion for any of it.

To be sure, no matter how hard Washington peddles obvious and verifiable lies, breaks or disregards domestic and international laws, and uses intimidation to gain power and profit with impunity, the fierce blockade enacted against Cuba is still subject to international law, including UN oversight. The economic war is similar in function and outcome to military war, with inhumane consequences for civilians.

In this time of troubles for us all, the UN is expected to exercise its power, authority and responsibility to stop the unwarranted, unlawful and immoral behavior of the United States and secure the future of Cubans. The UN will go a long way if it takes up the fierce policy of embargo and weighs it against the requirements of international and humanitarian laws. It's the only way to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

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