Miguel Fernández Díaz (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Everything seems to indicate that the US embargo on Cuba has lost its footing. The efforts of those who believed that an improvement in relations with the United States would bring about a better Cuba have proven victorious.
The embargo has been losing ground since the Carter administration and has now been pinned to a corner by the measures of the Obama administration, aimed at expanding travel, remittances and trade with the island.
When the new members of the US Congress convened on January 6, Republican Senator for Tennessee Bob Corker replaced Democrat Senator for New Jersey Bob Menendez as the chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and did nothing less than call the blockade an “ineffective” policy. In the midst of tensions that gradually lose their force as it becomes clear that the Cuban people will not somehow do away with the dictatorship, the invisible hand of the market starts to impose itself. The economies of the United States and Cuba are coupling to the rhythm of globalization and that systemic trend has time on its side to push aside all electoral impulses in Florida and the ethical or emotional factors that continue to impel the Cuban émigré community it its confrontation with Castroism.
Changes in the US
Democrat representative for Illinois Bobby Rush has just presented a bill (H.R. 274) to lift the embargo. It won’t go anywhere, but it points in the direction of where things are heading. Trade Secretary Penny Pritzker announced that she is planning on visiting Cuban and the US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), founded last year by more than 30 associations and companies, aimed at lifting the embargo to make trade and investment in Cuba possible.
Democrat politician Andrew Cuomo, governor of the State of New York, has already planned a trip to Cuba as head of a trade mission.
The anti-embargo stance has ceased to be part of the Democrat banner. Republican Senator for Kentucky Rand Paul has already engaged his colleague, Republican Senator for Florida Marco Rubio, in a Twitter debate about freedom of trade with Cuba.
In this connection, Republican Senator for Kansas Jerry Moran issued a declaration based on the simple argument that the island is “a natural market for basic US agricultural products.” In 2014, Havana bought US $ 150 million in grains from the European Union. According to Moran, that wheat could be sold to Cuba by Kansas farmers, who could offer the product at one third the price.
Despite and even thanks to their continued presence in the media and the blogosphere, the demons of repression and other human rights violations in Cuba fade away because of the many Cubans who manage to escape from them and immediately return to spend their money in this axis-of-evil country. This contradiction becomes all the more intense because of the most renowned victims of repression who visit the émigré community, boast of what they do and will do against Castroism, speak in support of the embargo and return to the island without being gagged or achieving anything they boasted of.
Because of how the Freedom Act of 1996 is designed, lifting the embargo and keeping the Cuban Adjustment Act is impossible. Such that, if the embargo has contributed to the confrontation against late Castroism, the Adjustment Act contributes to its perpetuation, ensuring a constant flow of Cubans out of the island, Cubans who, after settling in the United States, deprive the embargo of its footing by feeding the travel and remittances industries.
While we wait for two Godots – for the dictatorship to hand over power or for the Cuban people to do away with the dictatorship – it is perfectly logical that the correlation of political forces in the United States should shift in favor of trade with Cuba. People interested in trade couldn’t care less whether there is a dictatorship there or not, particularly when the oppressed have endured it for decades and decades.