BY; TREVOR BROWN
When the majority of human citizens through their representation in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) gather on June 23, 2021, to vote on the resolution entitled the ‘Necessity of ending the economic commercial, and financial blockade of Cuba’, it will mark the 29th consecutive year that a vote against ‘war by other means, of the 59 year –old criminal blockade of our sister nation has been adopted overwhelmingly, for its unconditional lifting. When the vote was last taken in 2019 due to the intervention of the Covid-19 pandemic, 187 voted in favor,3 against( USA, Israel, and Brazil) with 2 abstentions, namely Colombia and Ukraine, in the 192 member assembly.
As a matter of fact, blockades have been recognized as an ‘act of war’ in international law, since the London Naval Conference of 1909 and in accordance with this principle, such a measure can only exist between warring factions. To compound this anachronistic and genocidal practice between states(USA-Cuba), it’s also an illegal act, as there exists no international law justifying a so-called ‘peaceful blockade’ as was commonly used by colonial powers during the 19th and 20th century.
In addition, this controversial concept does not have any tradition in international law, as the USA was forced to remind the French in 1916, where they said ‘the United States does not recognize the right of any foreign power to impose barriers to the exercise of commercial rights of non-interested nations by using the blockade when there is no state of war’. Is this then a matter of the leadership of the USA suffering from a convenient case of ‘selective amnesia’ or is it a case of the empire had its own way courtesy of the Monroe Doctrine.
However, in order to make them illegal and therefore criminal action of a blockade more palatable, to disguise its overall intent of seeking to persecute, isolate, suffocate and immobilize the heroic Cuban people, with the aim of forcing them to renounce their decision to be sovereign and independent, the term ‘embargo’ is used. An embargo is universally understood, to be a legal method aimed at the retention of goods to ensure the fulfillment of a legitimately contracted obligation. It can also be a preventative measure of a patrimonial nature, authorized by a judge, court or competent authority with the same purpose of obliging the debtor to fulfill commitments to creditors. Our sister country does not fit any of the above-mentioned criteria in any shape or form.
What is an incontestable fact, is that in July 1960, a mere 7 months following the triumph of the Cuban revolution over the US-backed despotic regime of Fulgencio Batista, US presidential seal of approval was given by Dwight Eisenhower-, when faced with a determined population led by the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel to take their destiny in their own hands. On page 885 of memorandum to the director of the State Department’s office of regional economic affairs, concluded that ‘the only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship….every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba…a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government’.
The application of this war-like stance by Eisenhower has been taken as ‘gospel’ by the 12 other occupants of the White House to one degree or the other since the triumph of the revolution, with the third-party extraterritorial Helms-Burton Law during Bill Clinton’s term of office, being one of the most pernicious additions to the blockade of Cuba. A country which has not been nor is it a threat to the security of the United States, thus the attempts to apply measures in the name of legitimate self-defense with regard to our sister island, is a gross and bare-faced violation of international law that Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Snr, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama, Trump, and Biden will have to reconcile with their maker.
Looking back at some of the punitive actions taken in this near to 6 decades-old undeclared war against our sovereign sister nation, in an interventionist program that seeks to asphyxiate a courageous people and to bend their will in all areas of their human existence would reveal the following:
Accumulated economic damages to the country of USD 144,413,400,000 which is further magnified that between April 2019 to March 2020, the unprecedented criminal actions by the US government caused an estimated loss of USD5, 570,300.000 to the Cuban economy. The full extent of this unmitigated cruelty on the Cuban people is marked by the fact, that for the first time in one year, that the USD5billion barrier for losses as a result of the economic blockade has been broken, which does not take into account the US coercive actions during the Covid-19 pandemic which is ongoing.
Helms-Burton Act of 1996 which strengthens and continues the economic blockade of Cuba that allows for an extra-territorial application to a third party country and punishes foreign companies and organizations which do business with Cuba huge fines, if any US –connection in any shape or form is detected. The application of this act is very rigorously monitored and enforced through their Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) which has more resources assigned to it, than those engaged with the USA’s war against terror initiated by George W Bush. Considerable sums of money were levied against foreign institutions by the USA in its overzealous attempt to use this as another tool aimed at regime change in our sister country.
An immigration policy that promoted illegal migration through the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (‘wet foot, dry foot) and a corollary Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program which was aimed at siphoning off its medical professionals especially those who were on assignments for the government in other countries across the world. This policy ended in January 2017 when Barak Obama demitted office after 51 years of existence.
Targeted terrorist attacks against hotels and tourism interest across the country between 1992-1997 following the break-up of the Soviet Union, which was Cuba’s main economic partner. Cuba’s drive towards tourism as one of its main sources for foreign exchange earnings was therefore seen as ‘fair game’ for the agents of the US and the subsequent death of Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo was an innocent casualty of these actions.
The introduction of the swine flu virus in 1979 within the animal population which resulted in over 500,000 pigs being slaughtered as a means of protecting the remaining animals, as pork is the main source of protein in the country.
Bacteriological warfare in the form of dengue hemorrhagic virus in 1981 resulted in 158 deaths including 101 children, with another 150,367 dealt with different levels of treatment up to and including hospitalization. Interestingly, at the Guantanamo Naval Base which is also Cuban territory, not a single person was ill, due to the availability of a vaccine on this US-run military facility to counteract this virus
On October 6, 1976, there was a mid-air explosion of Cubana Aviacion’s CUT-1201 shortly after take-off from Barbados, which results in the death of all 73 persons aboard including crew members and citizens of Cuba, Korea, and Guyana. Now deceased CIA-trained terrorist Posado Carrilles boasted of his diabolic authorship of this action.
April 17, 1961, mercenary invasion at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) Cuba by 1500 persons trained, equipped, and supported by the USA government which was routed by the Fidel-led patriots in 72 hours after they landed. The occasion marked the first time that US-supported troops were defeated in combat, the other being in the Vietnam War.
Declassified documents from the Central Intelligence Agency, ‘CIA Targets Fidel- Secret 1967 CIA Inspector General’s report on a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro period between 1959-1993 ‘points to 612 attempts on the life of the historic leader of the revolution.
A total of 3470 people losing their lives with an additional 2099 being injured during this period of undeclared war and at an inestimable economic and social cost to our sister country.
Relentless disinformation and psychological warfare campaign in the media, utilizing all the available tools of communication at its disposal, designed to break the will of the Cuban people and to paint a picture of the country as a pariah state, that would make Joseph Goebbels, architect of Hitler’s Third Reich propaganda machinery look like a saint.
Therefore on what moral grounds can the USA who prides itself as the ‘ arbiter of all that is good in humankind, underpinned by values and practices that we should all emulate’, address any nation which they perceive as ‘falling out of line’, except by the sheer brute force of their military might or by methods that we in Jamaica have had the bitter experience of during the 70’s and which is currently being refined and applied in our sister countries of Nicaragua and Venezuela as 2 cases in point.
Cuba remains a beacon of hope for all of us, who are secure in the knowledge, that another world is indeed possible, which was amply demonstrated by their ‘writing’ of a glorious chapter in the country’s history, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, in the necessity of humanity standing up with each other for the greater good, that is in sharp contrast to that of the empire, which places profit over people. “What we need is solidarity is the refrain from Black Uhuru’s, award-winning Reggae Grammy Album ‘Anthem’.
We need to stand with Cuba.