By Repatriado

Havana mural. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES – Official Cuban media have recently launched another propaganda campaign about the Blockade, to reinforce the idea that it is the main source of all our problems.

Let’s analyze these arguments:

  • It is isn’t fair because it is a conditioning factor for Cuba which reduces its ability to compete with other countries.

I would say that is neither fair nor unfair, it just is. Every country has relative advantages and disadvantages. The Blockade is one of Cuba’s disadvantages, but the Cuban people’s admiration of messianic leaders is another disadvantage. However, Cuba has many advantages that other nations would be envious of: a great coastline, a regular and predictable climate, flatlands, a single time zone, a population that is culturally and linguistically homogeneous, a strategic geographical location.

  • The blockade is an interfering imposition.

The essence of the Blockade is that the US government won’t allow most trade with the Cuban government or allow it to use its currency. Plus, the former has warned the international community that it will not trade with whoever decides to trade with the Cuban government. Does a country’s government not have every right to establish its foreign trade policy? Doesn’t every country do this, including Cuba? If the United States government doesn’t want to trade with Cuba or anyone else who trades with Cuba, is that being interfering? Don’t friendly countries like Venezuela do the same when they refuse to sell oil or threaten to do this?

Interfering would be to try and force the US government to trade with nations they don’t want to because of their own reasons.

  • It’s illegal.

If it’s illegal, why haven’t any of the laws that make up the Blockade been denounced in front of US courts? Why does the Cuban government turn to the UN General Assembly and not to the International Court?

  • It’s immoral.

I agree with this point. It is immoral to exploit a people’s hardships even when you believe that you are seeking out the greater good by freeing them of a tyrannical government. However, it is also immoral of the Cuban government to choose and decide in the name of a people they have never consulted, forcing us to pay the extremely high price of being enemies with the greatest world power, a price which the people pay, not our leaders who never have to go without anything.

  • It violates Human Rights.

It always astonishes me when I hear the Cuban government talk about how a foreign government is violating the Cuban people’s human rights… I only ask myself, is it the Cuban government’s right to trade with the United States? Obviously, it isn’t.

  • It’s the main reason why 60 years of a “socialist” government haven’t been able to achieve sustainable economic progress, this is why advances made in education and healthcare are deteriorating quickly.

Jose Luis Rodriguez, a consultant at the International Economy Research Centre (CIEM) and former Cuban Economy minister, one of the people who best understands this subject, said the following when talking about Cuba’s foreign trade and its relationship with Moscow between 1961 and 1991: “the relationship in exchange terms reveal a favorable balance for Cuba whose revenue exceeded what they would have made by trading at global market prices by 50%.” That’s to say that Cuba was bringing in 50% more than it would have if it had been trading on the global market, even without a blockade!

Soviet subsidies during those 30 years were estimated to stand around 120 billion, “without this figure taking into account the payment and trade facilities socialist countries granted the island, without taking into account all of the extra aid that Cuba received from other socialist member states of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) and without taking into account the high rents the USSR paid for military and intelligence facilities, for example, the 200 million USD Russia paid every year to rent out the Lourdes SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) Center in Pinar del Rio.”

The former minister pointed out the fact that the “US blockade cost the country approximately 30 billion” during that time, which means that the scales were still tipped in Cuba’s favor.

From 1991 to 2000, Cuba had to survive with its own resources for the first time since this government came into power. The result? An epidemic of optic neuropathy due to vitamin deficiencies, sharks in the Florida Strait doubling in size and a country whose infrastructure, literally and still, is falling to pieces.

Ever since 2000, the Cuba-Venezuela Cooperation Agreement has rescued the Cuban government. With this agreement, Cuba sends thousands of professionals in semi-slavery conditions to Venezuela in exchange for foreign currency, oil and huge investments. This is the way that Chavez found to pay for Fidel’s patronage.

As a result, saying that the Blockade is the main reason for Cuba’s failed socialist system is a lie, a poor excuse. This system that our government chose and imposed so they could survive politically has failed even when its existence has been financed with foreign sums of money that far exceed whatever it has lost as a result of the Blockade!

I would look for the reason for this economic disaster in the State’s monopoly and its infinite ways of paralyzing society and preventing any independent progress within their control with monetary, Customs, tax or trade policies that resemble the ones Spain imposed on Cuba during colonial times.

16 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about the US Blockade

  • You don’t understand business. If Cuba could produce more, they would and the marketplace would buy it. Yes, demand creates supply but only after the market has identified quality supply exists. First comes the product, then comes the buyer. If Cuba had a 1000 high quality software architects hanging around unemployed, they would get snapped up. The reality is they don’t. As Kevin Costner said, “…if you build it, they will come”.

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