FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Punishing Cuba 50 Years On

by BEN SCHREINER

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.

More articles by:

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
Jeffrey Wilson
Demolish! The Story of One Detroit Resident’s Home
REZA FIYOUZAT
Billionaire In Panic Over Dems’ Self-Destruct
David Penner
The Barbarism of Privatized Health Care
Yves Engler
Canada in Zambia
Ludwig Watzal
What Israel is Really All About
Randy Shields
Matters of National Insecurity
Vacy Vlanza
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Through Eyes of an Activist for Palestine
Cesar Chelala
Dr. Schweitzer’s Lost Message
Masturah Alatas
Becoming Italian
Martin Billheimer
Lessons Paid in Full
Charles R. Larson
Review: James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model”
David Yearsley
The Brilliance of Velasquez
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail