Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hillary to Havana: Drop Dead

When a report in Newsweek revealed that one of Donald Trump’s companies had engaged in (extremely trivial) violations of the U.S. embargo on Cuba during Bill’s Presidency, Hillary was to tell reporters on her campaign plane that Trump had put “his personal and business interests ahead of the laws and the values and the policies of the United States of America.” Later she took to Twitter:

Back up.

The embargo is evil. It should be violated.

That Trump’s violation was motivated by profit rather than politics is beside the point. A grocery store owner in the Jim Crow South who illegally served black customers at his lunch counter because he wanted their business would be less praiseworthy than one who did the same thing because he wanted to take a principled stand against segregation laws, but both are better than a store owner who dutifully carried out those laws.

The embargo wasn’t put in place to promote democracy. It was instituted to punish Cuba for replacing a dictatorship that kept most of the population illiterate and impoverished—but which, as Hyman Roth says in Godfather II, “respects free enterprise”—with one that seized the wealth of the ruling class and used it to make massive strides in healthcare and education and social equality. Cuban society is very far from the pluralistic, democratic model favored by most socialists in this country, but anyone who believes that Cuba would be a ‘democracy’ if the CIA and the Miami exiles got their way should take a good long look at neighboring Haiti. Democratically elected left-wing President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was removed from office by U.S. Marines in 2004. The Cuban community in Miami cheered.

“In the American imagination,” Joy Gordon observes, “the embargo serves mostly to deny us access to Cohibas and Havana Club rum…” The reality experienced by ordinary Cubans is grimmer.

[I]ts damage to the Cuban people has been, and continues to be, pervasive and profound. It affects their access to everything from electricity to videogames to shoes. It has prevented Cubans from buying medical supplies from American companies, from buying pesticides and fertilizer, from purchasing Microsoft Word or downloading Adobe Acrobat. It has restricted how much money Cuban Americans can send to their families on the island. Americans have been prosecuted for selling water-treatment supplies to Cuba and threatened with prosecution for donating musical instruments.

Donald Trump has scored points with the Cuban-American community and the right wing of his own party by opposing President Obama’s efforts to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations. No one could blame Clinton if all she’d done was slam the Donald for inconsistency. The problem is that she didn’t stop at calling him a hypocrite. Nor did she simply fault him for breaking the law. She went out of her way to affirm that the embargo represents “our nation’s interests.” Nor, according to Clinton, is the embargo simply a matter of self-interest. No, the laws stopping Americans from providing Cuba with water-purification equipment represent American “values” that Donald Trump should have held sacrosanct.

Many opponents of the embargo may quietly reassure themselves that Clinton is simply lying about her position to pander for votes. She’s flip-flopped on this very subject before, and she could do it again. Of course, the same line of thought should give pause to progressives who took seriously her concessions to Bernie Sanders on matters such as college tuition and the minimum wage.

Either way, Secretary Clinton’s current message to Cubans who need water purification equipment is clear enough:

Drop dead.

More articles by:

Ben Burgis is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Underwood International College, Yonsei University.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail