The world rejects US blockade of Cuba
UN General Assembly votes 185-2-2
There is a saying among mothers in Cuba, “I have said it thirty times; when are you going to do it?” With the November 3 voting in the General Assembly of the United Nations, we arrive to thirty consecutive years that the Assembly has approved the resolution, “The need to put an end to the financial, commercial, and economic blockade by the United States of America against Cuba.” This year, 185 nations voted in favor of the resolution, two opposed (United States and Israel), and two abstained (Brazil and Ukraine).
Immediately before the voting, numerous representatives of governments from all regions of the world took the podium to denounce the blockade. To mention just a few, South Africa pointed out that Cuba has been helping the countries in development in an unselfish form, yet the sanctioning of Cuban transactions prevents Cuba from acquiring medicine, supplies, and equipment for its own nation. Algeria asserted that the blockade is contrary to the basic principle of the international multilateral commercial system, and it is an obstacle to lasting economic growth in Cuba, thus limiting Cuba in the exercise of its right to development. Nicaragua condemned the measures that in the times of the pandemic constituted a crime against humanity, noting as well U.S. pressuring of third countries with respect to the vote on the blockade.
The representative of the United States arrived to the Assembly with an unacceptable discourse of scarcely four minutes duration, claiming that the blockade is maintained in the name of democracy. The representative of the great northern republic was likely not well informed concerning the Cuban political system of people’s democracy, in which Cubans in neighborhood assemblies nominate candidates for municipal assemblies; and subsequently, in more than twelve thousand voting districts, cast their (secret) ballots for one of the two or more candidates, in an electoral process that occurs without the need for money and without the participation of any political party. Nor is it likely that he knows that the delegates of the 169 municipal assemblies so constituted elect the 600+ deputies of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the highest authority in the nation, empowered to enact legislation and to elect and recall the highest members of the executive and judicial branches of the government, including the President of the Republic (see “Political and civil rights in Cuba,” June 24, 2021). Nor is it likely that he is aware of the extensive participatory process in the creation of the 2019 Constitution, in which the entire people of Cuba became a de facto constitutional assembly (see “Participatory democracy in Cuba: The 2018 constitutional assembly formed by an entire people,” September 10, 2021).
Yuri Gala López, chargé d’affaires of the Permanent Mission of Cuba in the United Nations, declared before the Assembly that it takes much cynicism and hypocrisy to arrive to the General Assembly of the United Nations to speak of democracy on behalf of a country in which “electoral campaigns have no ethical limit and promote hate, division, egoism, slander, racism, xenophobia, and lies; and in which money and corporate interests determine who is elected or not.”
The role of money is the key difference between the Cuban and U.S. political systems, and full expose of it would delegitimate the political process of the USA. For this reason, the USA cannot see the Cuban political system, much less recognize its legitimacy. As the Cuban journalist Yeilén Delgado Calvo points out, imperialism cannot coexist with an example that demonstrates the possibility of a different manner of distributing wealth on the basis of different values, without giving in to the power of money.
The consequences of the blockade, increasingly intensified
The Cuban report in support of the resolution stressed that the Biden Administration does not have its own policy with respect to Cuba. It continues the policies of the previous administration of Donald Trump, leaving intact the 240 additional coercive measures that were imposed by the Trump Administration, implementing them in an aggressive form. This intensification of the blockade has been accompanied by an increase in the media campaign of disinformation concerning Cuba. In clear violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, the Biden administration seeks to fabricate a political opposition with the intention of generating disorder and instability and breaking the nation’s social consensus. The Biden Administration has resorted to lies and the manipulation of facts, utilizing the various methods of the unconventional war, with the objective of forcing a political change in Cuba.
The situation is further aggravated by the continued arbitrary and illegitimate inclusion of Cuba on a list published by the Department of State of countries that supposedly are sponsors of terrorism or “do not fully cooperate” with the so-called “war against terrorism” of the United States. There has been an incessant persecution by the U.S. government against financial transactions in which Cuba is involved, affecting virtually all sectors of the Cuban economy. This has led to the cancelling of contracts and the loss of relations with financial entities that habitually had been working with Cuba, and its has led to delays in the sending and receiving of funds and merchandise.
The Report maintains that the blockade has been the principal obstacle to the development of Cuba. The accumulated damage during the six decades of the blockade has ascended to more than 150 billion dollars. Taking into account the depreciation of the dollar in relation to the value of gold, this figure of accumulated damage could be expressed as 1,000 billion dollars.
Addressing the General Assembly in defense of the resolution, Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla characterized the blockade as “a deliberate act of economic war for the purpose of impeding the financial income of the country, destroying the capacity of the government to attend to the needs of the population, causing the economy to collapse, and creating a situation of ungovernability.”
Rodríguez noted that the blockade has created difficulties and delays in the arrival of medical supplies and equipment, and it has affected the national production of medicine. The feat of saving lives in such difficult circumstances can only be explained by the decades-long governmental and collective effort of the people to develop a strong system of science and health accessible to all without cost. Rodríguez observed that, in addition, the blockade has exacerbated limitations of financing and access to credit to repair and maintain the thermoelectric plants of the country. Moreover, the blockade prevents the exportation to Cuba of articles produced in third countries when they have more than 10% U.S. components.
Rodríguez stressed that particularly cynical and lacking in moral integrity is the obsessive and incessant persecution of financial and commercial transaction as well as investments in the country, based on the arbitrary and fraudulent inclusion of Cuba in the unilateral list of the Department of State of countries that are supposedly sponsors of terrorism. The inclusion of Cuba in such a list is totally unacceptable, inasmuch as Cuba has been a victim of terrorism, and indeed has suffered violent and terrorist attacks originating from U.S. territory; and in addition, Cuba has firmly rejected and has prosecuted terrorism in all of its forms, in an irreproachable manner, as is recognized throughout the world.
“even in the midst of the inhumane limitation that the blockade imposes on us, Cuba never will renounce its socialist system of social justice, confirmed in free and universal Constitutional Referendum in 2019. . . .
“With the same energy that we defend the inalienable right of each country to decide its political, economic, and social system, we demand respect for ours.
“Faithful to the legacy of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, Cuba always will have a ‘government of the people, for all the people,’ and ‘a Revolution of the humble, by the humble, and for the humble.’”
The irrational rationality of the U.S. blockade of Cuba
The neocolonial world-system was constructed on a colonial foundation. For four centuries beginning in the sixteenth century, European powers seized control of the Americas, East and South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in order to attain access to forced labor and cheap raw materials and to create markets for their surplus manufactured and agricultural goods. By the twentieth century, the resistance of the colonized forced a transition to neocolonialism, characterized by formal political independence combined with Western indirect control through the economic, financial, and ideological subordination of the national bourgeoisie of the neocolony.
The neocolonial system, with the USA as the hegemonic power, was at its zenith in 1959, when the Cuban Revolution triumphed and immediately established itself as an anti-neocolonial revolution. From the point of view of the hegemonic neocolonial power, the Cuban Revolution was a dangerous example that had to be ended. Unable to mobilize sufficient internal opposition to the revolution, the United States imposed the blockade, with the intention of creating economic difficulties that would provoke dissatisfaction and the overthrow of the government.
The persistence of the Cuban Revolution is explained by several factors. First, the development of an alternative political process that gives the people a meaningful voice in the evolution of the society. Secondly, the capacity of the revolutionary leadership to forge policies and strategies that intelligently respond to the situation created by the never-ending blockade. Thirdly, the increasingly evident decadence of the neocolonial world-system, demonstrating itself as incapable of offering a viable and sustainable road for humanity. And therefore, fourthly, the capacity of the revolutionary government to credibly present itself as the best available defender of the interests and the needs of the people.
There have been key moments in the increasing visibility of the unsustainability of the world-system. The failure of the US imperialist war in Vietnam, demonstrating the fallaciousness of Cold War assumptions. The sustainability of socialist projects in China, Cuba, Vietnam, and Korea, forged by systems of people’s democracy and state-directed, pragmatically conceived mixed economies. The turn of the global elite to neoliberalism in the 1980s, demonstrating its incapacity to find constructive and sustainable solutions to the contradictions of the world-system. The increasing use of imperialist wars after 2001, demonstrating the barbarity of the global elite and its continued incapacity to find constructive solutions to global contradictions. And the turn of the global elite during the past decade to post-modernism and unconventional war, demonstrating its cynicism, desperation, and decadence.
Although the blockade in 1961 violated the principle of the sovereignty of nations that the global powers had proclaimed, violations of this kind were a common practice at the time, seeking to repair fractures in the neocolonial world-system. Thus, the blockade had its neocolonialist logic in the 1960s. But it is no longer a rational policy, taking into account the evolving dynamics of the neocolonial world-system since that time.
What options are today available to the USA, examined from the point of view of its national interests? First, it must be recognized that the maintenance of the United States as the hegemonic power of the neocolonial world-system is no longer possible. The USA no longer has the productive capacity to play this role, given the decline of its economy relative to other imperialist powers and to emerging powers, which has occurred because of decades of insufficient investment in the productive capacity of the U.S. economy.
Secondly, it must be recognized that the neocolonial world-system itself in unsustainable in its present form, due to the fact that it has overreached and overextended the territorial and ecological limits of the earth, and it has given rise to sustained resistance by the neocolonized. In this context, the neocolonial world-system confronts the option of social democratic reform versus fundamental structural change.
Reform would involve moving toward a softer from of neocolonialism, a multilateral Euro-centered system that allows some latitude for emerging world powers and smaller nations that seek a sovereign road. Reform would have been a more viable option at the dawn of the twenty-first century, but the elite opted instead for wars of imperialist aggression. As a result, implementation of reform would be politically difficult today, given the continued U.S. policy of seeking to preserve its unilateral hegemony through military means, and taking into account the turn of emerging regional powers and smaller but influential nations toward structural change.
Fundamental structural change would involve the development of a pluripolar world, characterized by several regional powers and by mutually beneficial trade among regions and among nations in each region. Such world structures would favor the development of socialist projects in those nations with the political will, which would be characterized by political structures of people’s democracy as well as by mixed economies directed and regulated by states. Such an alternative and more democratic pluripolar world is emerging in practice, with China, Russia, India, Vietnam, and Iran as regional powers, and with Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua leading a process of post-imperialist union and integration in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Both options of reform and structural change imply a different U.S. policy with respect to Cuba, one that ceases the blockade and respects Cuban sovereignty. The continuation of the blockade would be logical, even if inhumane, if it were possible for the United States to maintain its position of hegemony in a sustainable neocolonial world-system. But because of decisions taken by the U.S. power elite beginning in the late 1940s and especially in the late 1970s, and because of evolutionary dynamics in the world-system, this is no longer a real possibility, neither for the nation nor the world.
Therefore, there are three real possibilities for U.S. foreign policy today, each with their implications for U.S. Cuba policy. First, the maintenance of the blockade of Cuba and the continued desperate but impossible attempt to preserve global hegemony, which likely would lead to further confusion, division, and decadence in the nation. Secondly, a belated turn to a multilateral neocolonial world order, still undemocratic and imperialist but less bellicose than the existing world order, which would include space for Cuba to be Cuba. This road would be more realistic than the first, but it would confront many pitfalls, given the sustained and expansive anti-imperialist sentiment in the world, inflamed by U.S. policies of the last four decades. And thirdly, a turn toward cooperation with other nations in the development of a more just, post-imperialist, democratic, and sustainable world-system, in which Cuba would be recognized as a dignified example. This road would be the best hope for humanity, fulfilling the promises and hopes of the great religions and political philosophies that are its common heritage.
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