• $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • other
  • use Paypal

CALLING ALL COUNTERPUNCHERS! CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners to the “new” Cuba. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads or click bait. Unlike many other indy media sites, we don’t shake you down for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it. So over the next few weeks we are requesting your financial support. Keep CounterPunch free, fierce and independent by donating today by credit card through our secure online server, via PayPal or by calling 1(800) 840-3683.


Punishing Cuba 50 Years On


With the media happily fixated on the sex scandal swirling around the U.S. Secret Service, the Sixth Summit of the Americas held in Cartagena, Colombia over the weekend was left to collapse with little notice.  The inability of the some 30 heads of American states to even issue a final declaration on Sunday derived primarily from the growing regional frustration with U.S. Cuban policy.

It has now been over half a century since Fidel Castro led a successful armed, popular revolt against U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.  Washington, though, is long in forgetting those that openly challenge and defy U.S. power (witness U.S. policy towards Iran).  Thus, the collective punishment of the Cuban people has long since been cemented as an unquestionable tenet of U.S. foreign policy—the longest and most foolhardy embargo in history remains. 

However, with the rise of center-left governments through the Americas, coupled with the weakening of U.S. regional influence attributable to its imperial overstretch in the Middle East, a growing push-back against U.S. Cuban policy has finally begun to take hold.  In 2009, for example, the Organization of American States (OAS) voted in defiance of the U.S. to lift its nearly 50-year membership ban on Cuba.  (Cuba still refuses to seek entry in the OAS, claiming that the organization is a tool of U.S. imperialism.)

Significantly, this growing impatience with U.S. Cuban policy has not been limited to the continent’s ascendant coalition of center-left governments.  In fact, right-wing Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a stanch ally of the U.S. and avid fighter of the Colombian Marxist rebel group F.A.R.C., publicly expressed his frustration with the obstinate U.S. posture towards Cuba just prior to this weekend’s summit.  As Santos warned:

It would be just as unthinkable to hold another hemispheric meeting with a prostrate Haiti, as it would be with Cuba absent…isolation, embargo and indifference have shown their ineffectiveness. It’s an anachronism that keeps us anchored to a Cold War era that’s been overcome for decades now.

Indeed, for Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa boycotted the weekend’s summit, directly citing U.S. policy towards Cuba.  The foreign ministers of Venezuela, Argentina and Uruguay, moreover, stated prior to the summit that their presidents would refrain from signing any summit declaration unless the US removed its veto of future Cuban participation.

Facing such a diplomatic backlash against his government’s failed Cuban policy, President Obama—quite remarkably, we might add—chose to defend the growing isolation of the U.S. by calling for all to move beyond any Cold War era mindset.  As Obama declared:

Sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions, or at least the press reports, we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy and Yankees and the Cold War, and this and that and the other.  That’s not the world we live in today.

This, though, is in fact the very world in which U.S. policy remains suspended.  And if the past weeks have demonstrated anything in this regard, it is a world in which the U.S. shall long remain.  

After all, in mid-March, the U.S. State Department rejected applications from two senior Cuban diplomats to travel to New York City to take part in a panel discussion at the Left Forum.  The State Department cited Cuba’s refusal to permit American diplomats freedom of travel outside Havana as reason for the travel ban.  But unlike the U.S., Cuba has not once tried to overthrow the U.S. government.  But such is life in the U.S. Cold War time warp. 

And then, of course, this past week saw the U.S. sports world rise to express its collective outrage at the supposedly incendiary comments made by new Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen.  Guillen’s crime: a public expression of admiration for Fidel Castro.  For such a grave transgression Guillen was forced to issue an immediate apology, and denounce Castro as a universally hated tyrant.  Nonetheless, Guillen was still slapped with a five game suspension for riffling the feathers of the rabidly anti-Castro Miami community.  Free speech, Guillen no doubt learned, has its limits.   

(Admiration for the Cuban Revolution, it must be noted, ought not be something to instinctively vilify.  Since the 1959 revolution wrestled the island free from the jackboot of U.S. imperialism, life expectancy in Cuba has gone from just under 60 years to just under 80 years.  And as governments at all levels in the U.S. take a hatchet to social spending, Cubans continue to enjoy free education and health care at every level.)

So, as the states inhabiting the Americas look toward forging a future free from Cold War antagonisms, the U.S. remains fixated on the imagined red menace looming 90 miles off its coast.  No U.S. war, it appears, is easily brought to a close.    

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Oregon.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his website.

October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Ron Jacobs
The Murderer as American Hero
Alex Nunns
“A Movement Looking for a Home”: the Meaning of Jeremy Corbyn
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Halima Hatimy
#BlackLivesMatter: Black Liberation or Black Liberal Distraction?
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Xanthe Hall
Nuclear Madness: NATO’s WMD ‘Sharing’ Must End
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Uri Avnery
Abbas: the Leader Without Glory
Michael Brenner
Kissinger Revisited
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots