Who Profits from the Cuba Blockade?

Yusimí Rodríguez

Photo: Tracey Eaton
Photo: Tracey Eaton

HAVANA TIMES — I must apologize to the readers of Havana Times for my recent article, “Who Did Cuba’s Ladies in White Speak For?” The title, I now see, ought to have been “Who Profits from the Cuba Blockade?”, for, that is what the issue is ultimately about: who stands to benefit from the petition made by the Ladies in White?

Several readers have pointed out something significant to me: the Ladies in White, or, more specifically, Berta Soler, should not feel entitled to speak on behalf of anyone except themselves.

Likewise, I never speak on anyone’s behalf save my own. But I am not an influential or well-known public figure, as the Ladies in White are. Nothing I can say will have the repercussions or the significance that any declaration or action by the Ladies could have.

In any event, what’s important is that they, or Berta Soler in this case, have exercised their right to free speech. This is something I stated in my previous article and say again now. Ideally, the Ladies in White would be able to exercise this right in the Cuban media, so that Cubans could freely decide whether or not they identify with their opinions.

One thing many of my readers agree on is that the US blockade is not truly to blame for Cuba’s situation, and that lifting it would not bring significant changes to the country.

These readers tend to call it the “embargo”. My apologies, but I’ve been hearing and reading the term “blockade” in our news and our press for far too long to suddenly start saying “embargo” now. It’s difficult. But that’s not the point, the point is determining what repercussions it has on our daily lives.

I confess I am unsure as to what the scope of its consequences is. On the one hand, it is obviously doing something, as successive US administrations have insisted on maintaining it, and the Ladies in White have requested a continuation of these economic pressures on the island.

A group of Damas de Blanco.  Photo: Tracey Eaton
A group of Damas de Blanco. Photo: Tracey Eaton

On the other hand, I sometimes ask myself: “how many of our problems are actually caused by the blockade?” History has shown that the Ten Million Ton Harvest (a failed undertaking), the massive failed Havana periphery coffee plantations, the Revolutionary Offensive (which among other things closed all small private businesses), were mistakes plain and simple, and costly ones at that. How did the blockade have to do with these, if anything?

It’s hard to determine, with any degree of exactitude, to what extent the blockade, sorry, the embargo…heck, the blockade, affects the lives of the Cuban people. What I do know is that, while it is still around, this blockade, or embargo, or whatever you want to call it, will continue to be guilty of all our problems, of everything that doesn’t quite work, of all the mistakes made by our leaders.

So, I again ask myself: who stands to benefit from the blockade? Who continue to use it as a pretext for the failure of the economic model they now seek to modernize?

Who will continue to repress and discredit those who oppose the government, claiming that they are at the service of a foreign power? Who truly profits from the petition made by the Ladies in White?

32 thoughts on “Who Profits from the Cuba Blockade?

  • The ones who profit most from the US/Cuba ’embargo are the Cuban-American politicans. Without it, they would be unable to raise any money for their re-elections!

  • (OOPS) * accepting Cuban doctors does not mean they have been Cubanised. Should nations then not accept Cuban doctors? I’m afraid your idea of Venezuela being ‘Cubanised’ only makes sense to you, and maybe some Americans who watch too much Fox news. I’m not going to debate Venezuela with you, and keep my replies minimal on here (against my better judgement–i only opened an account on here because 1 of your comments annoyed me!) as I have better things to do than endlessly, pointlessly argue on comments pages on the internet which achieve nothing and are ultimately a waste of time!! Write some articles or something man if you stuff to say, clever comments on news stories etc don’t constitute much…as i knew before i joined and now have realised as i write this reply! take this as proof of my defeat by your massive intellect if you like, but trust me its not; rather you have opened my eyes to the banal pointlessness of arguing on the internet!

  • Well we’ll agree to disagree on the embargo and the opening of the markets effect; because what you seem to be saying is that the Castro regime will benefit either way with market reforms–the problem with this is that if no political change really comes what then? The USA has been saying for over 50 years that the embargo is the right policy at the moment, but it still hasn’t brought any benefits to the average Cuban has it?

    As to the ‘Cubanisation’ of Venezuela; if your only argument is that shortages = Cubanisation then quite a few countries will fall into that category! We’re not going to agree on Chavez i can see; but he did improve many things for the average, poor Venezuelan–thus why he was constantly re-elected… As to your stuff about the other governments in the region that has nothing to do with my reply; unless your suggesting that by not supporting the isolationist policy towards Cuba they therefore had these problems (and i don’t see why you mentioned these things unless you wanted to link the 2!). I mentioned trading with Cuba; the EU is Cuba’s biggest trading partner & they I presume you don’t think have been ‘Cubanised’. Various developing nation leaders have praised Cuba in the past for various different things, some of them dictators others democrats, are they all ‘Cubanised’? The fate of these governments still doesn’t cover the fact that I and others are right that the Cuban gvt is not isolated in the region.

    Again the stuff about the doctors; I didn’t comment on the laudable or not nature of the Cuban medical diplomacy–i simply pointed out that accepting Cuban doctors doesn’t mean your nation has

  • Not really. I do believe that the Castros benefit most from the embargo because of its propaganda utility. However, to the Castros impending peril, using the embargo as the excuse for all things wrong with Cuba only further undermines their almost non-existent credibility with Cubans.I believe that unilaterally lifting the embargo would bring unmerited financial gains to the regime that would be used to sustain the repression of the Cuban people. As a result, maintaining the embargo, AT THIS TIME, serves a greater overall good, even in light of the benefit it lends to the Castro myth. Second, as Fidel’s original goal was to convert Latin America into a second front for socialism, the Castro plan as originally purposed has failed. However, despite the legitimacy of Venezuelan elections, Chavez was determined to ‘Cuban-ize’ Venezuela and if today’s current toilet paper shortage and currency crisis is any example, his efforts were not it vain. Given the union disputes in Bolivia, the battles with the independent media in Ecuador, the recent shift back to the right after the election in Paraguay, and the growing unrest in Argentina against la presidenta, it is clear that the progressive movement is shaky at best. To say nothing of the outcome of the Capriles-Maduro election. Cuba’s medical diplocacy/commerce is at first glance laudable. But after only cursory review, when you consider why Cuban doctors will volunteer to leave their family and country for missions abroad and when you run the numbers as to who benefits most and who benefits least from this program, you begin to see the darker and more sinister motivations of the Castros. This looks less like trade among equal parties and more live indentured servitude. Why do they take the doctors passports away from them when they are on mission? Why do they prohibit doctors from bringing their families with them? The answers are simple.

  • Moses as the posts above point out your stance on the embargo is completely illogical. You say only the Castro’s & present Cuban regime are the only ones benefitting from the embargo but you support it because of its ‘good’ side; which you say is that it stops the spread of the Cuban system elsewhere (although according to you it has spread to Venezuela). Well firstly the Cuban gvt is less isolated now in the region than at any other point in its history. Second the ‘export of the Cuban model’ had failed by the early 90s with the defeat of the various guerrilla movements across the continent based on the ‘foco’ theory & their incorporation into the liberal democracatic political system.
    Also to label Venezuela as an export of the Cuban system is ridiculous! You may not have noticed that Chavez won more elections than any US president and the Jimmy Carter Democracy Foundation & Jimmy Carter himself described Venezuela elections as the free-est & fairest in the world. If ‘exporting’ the Cuban model means sending doctors, trading (even at preferential rates) or even praising elements of the Cuban revolution than numerous gvts around the world, developed & developing, are Cuban exports. Every single 1 of your posts on this site is riddled with contradictions. with contradictions.

  • You are naive, they simply switched to soft politics using their human resources as leverage. Is not only Venezuela, add Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua to the mix as direct allies. And their influence in the third world is now stronger than ever and keep growing. At the very least. the people of those countries see Cuba as a friend and ally, to the point that US and Canada are completely isolated in the issue in the hemisphere.

    If that is the goal, it failed miserably so all the pain and suffering inflicted into the Cuban people has been in vain,

  • Well if you call medical aide cubanization, it once moe shows what you stand for. Basically for your hate towards Cuba and its revolution. You in reality could not care less for the Cubans. Your just on your ego trip, studying your endless commentaries at the end of the eveneing I suppose, telling yourself how great you were. Unless you`re really a sock puppet.

  • Because of the embargo, the Castros were and continue to be unable to effectively export their ‘country-killing cubanization’ system to other countries, Venezuela notwithstanding.

  • Interesting perspective. Many people have actually DIED and permanently lost sight BECAUSE of the embargo. And as usual, the ones most affected are the most vulnerable: young children and elders.

    And for what reason? Can you name a single GOOD thing that has come from it? And if you do, do you seriously think is good enough to be worth life, pain and misery of innocents?

  • Moses. Cubans have died and became crippled for life because of the embargo. It only looks peaceful because is not open warfare, but is still hostile and harmful to the Cuban people, and YOU are supporting it.

    As I mentioned in my response to CUBAQUS, it is also illegal. It classifies as genocide and breaks the rules about massive punishment of people for things they id not personally committed, and what it should be worse in your own eyes, is the reason why the Cubans still back the Cuban government.

    It doesn’t matter how you paint it, the Cuban government is not intentionally trying to starve their people, at the very worst that’s the result of sheer incompetence, while the embargo tries to make life miserable to the population so they overthrow their government. Thats not only makes it immoral, the Cuban people see it as intentional damage inflicted upon them, and as such regard the people behind it as a hostile, destabilizing force.

    And when presented with the alternative between perpetuating incompetence and supporting the ones that have been intentionally harming them for decades, most sane people will chose incompetence, so embargo supporters are directly responsibly for keeping the Cuban government in power.

    The US doesn’t HAVE to police the world, an international organization can take care of that but such entity would be outside of US control, so is against their interests to be part of it.

    Arguably, both they and the world would be better served without US policing. Can you name a SINGLE threat to US thats is NOT the direct result of US meddling around the world? Can you deny their history of backing murderous dictatorships and disrupting democratic governments to serve their self interests?

    You mentioned Bosnia 20 years ago. Are you aware that the side the US supported (Muslims) were also guilty of genocide against the Serbs? Do you know about the multiple war crimes committed by the wining side?

    “Until now, the discussions have focused mainly on the Serbian nationalist forces, which have occupied two-thirds of Bosnia, employing the brutal tactics they call ethnic cleansing against scores of Muslim and Croatian towns.

    But with Muslim and Croatian fighters now using many of the same tactics against each other, rejecting the pretense of an alliance, Western leaders who have been wary of military involvement may find added reason for not making commitments.”


  • Sadly, for you, and much as the CIA would like to, not even they dare to question Cuban health stats. Unlike you, they cannot allow themselves to become an international laughingstock — at least not on this issue. Must be frustrating as hell for you.

  • If you are referring to the “copy and paste” stats they have somewhere: no confirmation from them on those.

    International experts and Cuban doctors that have left Cuba have confirmed that Cuban health statistics are questionable.

    As far as you over and over repeated false genocide claim goes, Mr. Stalinist, I have exposed that lie. You failed to come up with any quoted from any credible source that would have referred to them as such. Amnesty International certainly hasn’t however hard you try to mislead people with you misrepresentations.

  • Years later, in 2012, Amnesty International reported that the abuse continues:

    “UN agencies working in Cuba, such as the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA, continued [as of 2012] to report the negative effects of the US embargo on the health of the population, particularly members of marginalized groups. Access to specific commodities, equipment, medicines and laboratory materials remained scarce as a result of restrictions imposed on the importation of items manufactured by US companies and their subsidiaries or produced under US patents.”

    Tell us this is not genocide. You know it is.

    So, enough your mindlessly repeated lies and rationalizations, Paul. No one, not even your closest allies at the UN are buying into them. Every year, for 20 years in a row now, the overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly has voted to condemn these cruel and inhuman sanctions of yours.

  • Not even the CIA is buying into your BS. Even they are forced to concede at their website that Cuba’s infant mortality rate — the single most reliable indicator of overall public health — is the best in the Americas.

    As for your genocidal embargo, we are STILL waiting, for almost a decade now, for a straight answer to this one simple question: Are trade sanctions which help to deprive a target population of medicines and other essentials of life a form of genocide or not? Or would they be a legitimate tool of foreign policy and no one else’s business?

    For obvious reasons, we know you will refuse to answer this question as you have done literally hundreds of times here and in other forums.

    Maybe it would help you to imagine that the victims are NOT JUST Cubans. Suppose they were Belgians, and that you your own family were the victims.

    Still nothing? Oh, well.

  • Indoctrination implies putting false ideas in to people’s mind using coercion. That is what the Castro regime does.
    I post referenced facts to inform people.

    The Brazilian government is indeed talking of hiring 6000 Cuban doctors, It hasn’t “accepted” them yet.

    The local medical board objects to them based on their experience with failing graduates from Cuba.

    “Regulador del ejercicio médico en Brasil repudia una eventual llegada de galenos cubanos”

    “Médicos cubanos fracasan en Brasil”

    On the evaluation of Cuba trained doctors in Costa Rica see:

    “Universidad de Costa Rica dice que los médicos graduados en Cuba tienen ‘graves deficiencias'”

    The site I am referring you to has online translation should you not speak Spanish.

    More on the subject of the quality of education from Namibia:

    “Namibia: Cuban Engineering Degrees ‘Useless’
    By Selma Shipanga, 30 August 2012”

    So I think I have shown that it isn’t me that is either “ignorant” nor “lying”.

    As far as why the Cuban people lack medicines and equipment in their hospitals while the hospitals for tourists and the elite are well stocked: blame the regime.

    If the “blockade” stops medicines and equipment for the hospitals for the Cuban people how come it allows the same medicines and equipment to arrive in the tourist hospitals?

    It seems that you are the “ignorant or lying” one here.

    “The U.S. says it approved $142 million in commercial and donated medical exports to the communist island in 2008. So why did less than 1 percent of it get there?”
    “It’s not the embargo,” said John Kavulich, a senior policy adviser at the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Economic Trade Council, which provides nonpartisan commercial and economic information about Cuba. “These are economic and political decisions not to buy.” Cuba often waits for allies to donate what it needs, Kavulich said. “They’d rather get things for free than pay for them.”

    “It’s unclear why U.S. medical exports aren’t reaching Cuba”, Dallas Morning News, 5 December 2009.

    Lyndonville man talks about being imprisoned in Cuba
    By Helen J. Simon
    Free Press Staff Writer June 11, 2006
    “In retrospect, Schwag, 53, thinks he might have run afoul of high-ranking Cuban officials who might have helped “divert” costly anesthesiology machines he was transporting to the island from doctors at Johns Hopkins University. He will never be sure, because everyone he has contacted in Cuba and the United States claims ignorance.”

  • Whos`s trying to indoctrinate. How come that Brazil just accepted Cuban medical doctors, about 6000. That even Doctors without Boarder also mention the high moral and technical quality of their Cuban colleges? Are you so ignorant or cinical or trying to sell lies, that you mention lacking of medical equipment and ,edicines. You forgot to mention grace to whom. Jeeez. are you really such a hipocrite

  • The reason why Dan Christensen call the sanctions genocide is because he mindlessly repeats the Castro propaganda over and over again in the hope to mislead people.

    The US was by 2008 Cuba’s largest food supplier.

    Genocide implies an “intent to kill”. Sending food is a strange way to kill people.

    On medicines see:

    “The U.S. says it approved $142 million in commercial and donated
    medical exports to the communist island in 2008. So why did less than 1
    percent of it get there?”

    “It’s not the embargo,” said John Kavulich, a senior policy adviser at the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Economic Trade Council, which provides nonpartisan commercial and economic information about Cuba. “These are economic and political decisions not to buy.” Cuba often waits for allies to donate what it needs, Kavulich said. “They’d rather get things for free than pay for them.”

    “It’s unclear why U.S. medical exports aren’t reaching Cuba”, Dallas Morning News, 5 December 2009.

  • Cuba’s health care – for Cubans – is a disaster lacking in doctors, medical equipment and medicines.

    Education has gone south and doctors graduating from Cuba fail to meet the grade in Costa Rica, Brasil, … while Namibia rejected Cuban trained engineers as useless.

    Education on Cuba is about indoctrination.

    Cuba’s health statistic are more doctored than the Cuban people according to a whole series of Cuban doctors that have emigrated (and therefore are free to speak) and international experts that had access to Cuban data.

    As far as the lie about genocide you keep posting over and over again, Dan Christensen, that is easily debunked.
    lots of people have challenged you to post even one quote from a respectable international organization that would have ever called the trade sanctions “genocide”.

    You have failed to do so in lots of internet groups for over a decade. That says it all.

    The Castro dictatorship is the one actually on Genocide Watch’s list:

    It is clear that making cash to survive is the regime’s “top priority” as shown by the fact it send about half of the Cuban doctors abroad to earn money for the regime leaving Cuban hospitals, clinics and doctor cabinets without personnel.

  • Luis, you are confusing ‘peaceful’ with ‘painful’. Yes, sanctions are painful but intentionally so. Otherwise, why bother? But sanctions are indeed peaceful. What other non-violent way is there to encourage rogue nations to return to the world community? You also seem to always have a problem with the fact that the US must lead in ‘policing’ the world. As the US failed to take the lead in Bosnia 20 years ago, the US was criticized for NOT acting soon enough. Likewise, in Rwanda. Today, there are Syrian refugees crying out for the US to join in the struggle to end the civil war in that country. It would seem that when the US acts, people like you are quick to complain and when we don’t act, there is a chorus of detractors who will criticize as well. Every US President is faced with this dilemna. Dan abuses the term ‘genocide’ to promote his pro-Castro agenda. Given the billion dollars of remittances from the US, the sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of food and medicine, the embargo, as Griffin states, is shrinking at best, if it exists at all.

  • How can you deny it is genocide? Again, Amnesty International, has reported that “the restrictions imposed by the embargo help to deprive Cuba of vital access to medicines, new scientific and medical technology, food, chemical water treatment and electricity.”

  • No, economic sanctions are not ‘peaceful’ measures in any way. They are aggressive imperialist actions, because only an Empire has the power to tell other sovereign nations that they ‘have gone astray’, in other words, how they should behave.

    I don’t see how ‘peaceful’ could be measures that, for example, left about half a million children dead in Iraq during the 90’s – http://www.globalissues.org/article/105/effects-of-sanctions.

    That’s why Dan calls it a genocide.

  • Have you heard of the Tea Party? Obama couldn’t get sanctions lifted with this Congress even if he had an iron rod for a spine. As long as a ‘commie Castro’ is in charge, the votes are not there. Don’t blame Obama for this. BTW, your repeating that whole embargo as genocide argument over and over again will not make it any more true. Economic sanctions are a peaceful way of convincing governments that they have gone astray. The UN sanctions against Iran, Syria and North Korea are cases in point.

  • You are absolutely right. Up until last month, Cubans living outside Cuba were sending appliances, medicines, money and clothes to their family members by the boatload. My wife has sent a microwave, a king-size mattress, an air-conditioner and suitcases of clothes last year alone. We know other Cubans who have furnished entire homes and even sent building materials to build room additions. Embargo? Not according to my credit card receipts!

  • Cuba has the best health care and education system in the region. Even according to the CIA, it has the best infant mortality rate in the Americas — the single most reliable indicator of overall public health. It is considerably better than the USA, and even marginally better than Canada.This despite over a half-century of genocidal US trade sanctions. (Must be frustrating as hell for you!) Clearly, the health and well-being of its citizens are the Cuban government’s top priority.

  • I support the embargo because it does more good than harm.

  • So why do you support the embargo and the harsh US policy on Cuba anyway? ac (I guess) already bummed you wrong for the real reason beyond the ‘lack of hard currency’ and ‘international credit’: EXACTLY the embargo. You suffer from schizoid reasoning, at least.

  • Spineless US politicians like Barak Obama are the only beneficiaries of these cruel and humane sanctions. They get blood money and votes in South Florida for promoting what can only be seen as a form of genocide under international law (Article 2c of the UN Genocide Convention). And, of course, promoters of these sanctions can earn a tidy living as well.

    BTW, this is not a matter of “free speech.” No one has the moral right to promote genocide even if it is against his or her own people.

    Just a reminder: No less an authority than Amnesty International, has reported that “the restrictions imposed by the embargo help to deprive Cuba of vital access to medicines, new scientific and medical technology, food, chemical water treatment and electricity.” Morally and legally, this is a form of genocide.

  • My bank. Have to pay everytime I send money to Cuba ( about 2 a montgh) 30 Euros in xtra fees to send it via, via cause som US Idiot bought the biggest share of the bank. Lives off my money and dictates on top of it. Ask myself not neing a US citizen, what the hell do I ha´ve to do with US politics.Thats capitalism and imperialism on a miniscale pure. Should change bank…..

  • call it whatever you want, maybe its a shrinking blocade….hehe…don`t see any shrink

  • In the long run the Cuba people as it denies the regime access to more funds that would go to repression first.
    Maybe one day a democratic Cuban leader will thanks the US congress and its people for their support via sanctions as Aung San Suu Kyi did in the case of Myanmar.

  • For the one thousandth time: there is no blockade.

    There is a limited and shrinking embargo.

  • This is an easy one to answer. Clearly, the Castros and their hangers-on benefit from the the embargo. Castro sycophants constantly whine about Cuba’s inability to access credit, buy technology or medical supplies and even access to the internet as the negative outcomes of the US embargo. The the truth is that Cuba, even if the embargo were lifted, lacks the hard currency and the international credit worthiness to purchase these goods.The real question is why Cuba lacks the resources to make these foreign purchases. Why is Cuba poor? The answer is complex but largely due to low productivity of the Cuban workforce and low exports. The embargo benefits the Castros et al as the perfect excuse for all things gone wrong with their wretched system. The only argument that makes any sense for lifting the embargo is the one long posed by Yoani Sanchez and many others who share her reasoning. Take away the embargo and you take away the veil the Castros have shrewdly used to disguise their failed governance.

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