The Time to Lift the Cuba Blockade is Now

Elio Delgado Legon

Havana Currency Exchange House. Foto: Juan Suárez.

HAVANA TIMES — Recent news seems to suggest changes in the opinions of a number of individuals and governments with respect to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States more than 50 years ago.

Reports from the United States inform us of the statements former Florida governor Charlie Crist made to the press. Crist referred to the blockade as an “inefficient relic” and called for its lifting. In his judgment, this would allow Florida farmers, manufacturers and others to enter into commercial relations with Cuba that would bolster the economy and create jobs.

Over the last few weeks, Florida businesspeople and personalities have called for the lifting of this, the longest blockade in history – a blockade that has cost the Cuban people more than a 1.1 trillion dollars.

Let us not forget, what’s more, that the blockade on Cuba has been condemned at the UN General Assembly by nearly all of the international community for 22 consecutive years.

More recently – this past February 10 – the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union (EU) approved seeking negotiations surrounding political and cooperation talks with Cuba.

It is curious that EU foreign ministers approved this point without a previous debate. This means there was unanimity of opinions on this matter, dealing a crushing blow to the so-called “Common Position” vis-à-vis Cuba advanced in 1996 by the then Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar.

According to press reports, the aim is to “broaden spaces of cooperation with the island, support its socio-economic reforms and encourage greater respect towards human rights.” What the report doesn’t say is where they would encourage “greater respect towards human rights”, because, in many European countries, there is still plenty to be done in this connection. It remains to be seen where human rights are respected more, in Cuba or in Europe.

Bucanero beer truck. Photo: Juan Suarez

That same day, after these reports were divulged, EU Ambassador in Havana Herman Portocarrero offered a press conference to report on this decision, declaring he had submitted a letter from the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherina Ashton to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez to inform him of the EU’s decision.

Portocarrero called the decision a “very important step in relations with Cuba, as it will allow us to make future inroads and result in mutual benefits. We trust that mutual respect and the determination to find common ground will prevail,” he said, adding that, “during the CELAC Summit, we’ve seen that Cuba plays a very important role in regional cooperation efforts. We think that Cuba will play a very powerful role in future regional integration, something we want to support,” he concluded.

On Tuesday, February 11, Democrat Senator Patrick Leahy and his Republican colleague Jeff Flake demanded that the US government put an end to the commercial, economic and financial blockade on Cuba, alleging that the majority of Americans long to see a change in the country’s policy towards Cuba. The legislators pointed out that there is much to be gained from “eliminating this Cold War relic.”

With these outdated policies, we are not isolating Cuba, we are isolating ourselves, they stated in an article published by the Miami Herald.

In my opinion, both the European Union and many US government officials are coming to the realization that, while the blockade causes the Cuban economy considerable damage, our country continues to make progress and to develop – perhaps not as quickly as we would want, but the future is promising. The feeling of isolation stems from seeing the role Cuba is playing in terms of the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the world’s most important regions.

Ambassador Portocarrero says as much when he stresses “Cuba’s role as the leader of the integration process impelled through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which is of immense value for the European Union, wishing, as it does, to strengthen relations with countries in the region.”

The Cuban government immediately issued a declaration, signed by Vice-Minister Rogelio Sierra, declaring that “Cuba will consider the invitation advanced by Europe in a respectful and constructive manner, in adherence to its sovereignty and national sovereignty.”

Unquestionably, a change in the EU’s policy towards the island and the elimination of the US blockade are very important – but let no one believe they will be able to use such measures to blackmail this country or to meddle in its internal affairs.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

24 thoughts on “The Time to Lift the Cuba Blockade is Now

  • February 17, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I have nothing against the US military, they only do what they are told to.

  • February 17, 2014 at 9:49 am

    The triple “E” ship could unload at Mariel and pick up bulk cargo in Brazil as is contemplated in Europe. Cuba would not be an end destination for most of the containers. Even more likely with the Panama canal not able to take triple “E” and the new canal in Niqueragua.

  • February 17, 2014 at 6:59 am

    I travel all over the world. I have never been scared to be identified as an American. OK, I have never been to North Korea, Syria, Iran or (insert rogue state) so you may be right in those countries. An American passport allows me to travel to most countries without a visa so I don’t see the problem you claim exists. In fact, in most countries, being American has it advantages. Cuba purchases food and medicines from the US, not exactly a choice on their part. Not trading with the US hurts them more than us. I admit polls can be manipulated. I am proud of the US military.

  • February 16, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Do you make this crap up in your head. That is not how it works. Container ships pick up containers OR they unload containers. Cuba would more likely be a transfer point as opposed to a beginning or end destination. This means the ship would have to leave Cuba and dock somewhere else and could not make port in the US for 6 months.

  • February 16, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    I think that Brazil is hoping that South America can use Mariel as a hub for container traffic. The US is becoming less of a concern.

  • February 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    #1. World opinion does matter, you expect Cuba to accept the US gov. opinion on what Cuba should do and be but think the US is above negative World opinion. The US government is looked on negatively because of it’s foreign policy and constant intervention into countries internal affairs and this even has a negative effect on US travelers who are scared to identify as being American for fear of reprisal. There was no conclusive evidence on which side used chemical weapons in Syria and Cuba has a right to have an opinion as well as you or anyone else. The US resolution to that problem was to blast the shite out of them and it took the Russians to defuse that intervention. (See Guantanamo for US torture camps)
    #2. Minimum impact on the Castros and shamefully much impact on the Cuban people.
    #3. I think Cuba should minimize its trade with the US until it changes its attitude of intervention into the affairs of sovereign nations.
    #4. So you admit that the media is manipulative?
    #5 I know that “squashing them like a bug” concept makes you drool.
    #6. The US has tried to bump off the Castros many times and has not been successful (talk to your buddies in Florida they can give you more specifics)
    #7. The US has backed many worse governments and still does. At least the Cuban people are healthy and well educated compared to other third world countries.

  • February 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    You are missing the point. It is not about the port itself. Ports are merely passages through which commerce takes place. It is about the container vessels that carry the products. Without the US in the transaction, there is far less reason to send the deep water ships to Cuba.

  • February 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    The US is rated #16 in the world as far as ports go, even Canada is ahead at #11. Brazil has a bigger plan for Mariel as it only has a bulk port that can handle triple “E” vessels

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