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The History of Cuba’s Tantrums Against U.S. Embargoes in the United Nations


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Early on, Cuban communism realized that the weaponization of multilateral diplomacy would serve its dictatorial survival pursuits. International and national forums, as early as 1959, became prime targets of the Marxist government’s intelligence and foreign relations focus. The United Nations has been one of its most coveted success stories in this field.

Every year since 1992, Castroism has effectively launched a United Nations (UN) embargo tantrum. This year, as has been the case for the last 29 occasions, the UN General Assembly voted on June 23rd to condemn the U.S. embargo against the Island’s communist dictatorship. Does this vote have any relevance? Is it even necessary?

The cited “embargo” is the unilateral, sovereign decision of the United States to deny credit and limit classes of exportable goods to the Castro regime, as well as commercial and financial transactions. The bogus “blockade” term often heard is nothing short of propagandized semantic chicanery and an insult to proper language and social science conceptual usage. The U.S. government has sustained consistent forms of sanctions and/or an embargo against Castro-Communism since 1960, despite wide variances in its severity and application. The determinant factor has been the occupier of the White House.

In October 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower suspended Cuba’s sugar quota. Additionally, in response to the wholesale thievery of American property on the Island numbering close to 9,000 individuals and businesses totally about $8-$9 billion (in current dollars) by the communist regime, his administration evoked the Trading with the Enemy Act (1917). Almost a year later, President John F. Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act (1961), which granted the executive branch the power to issue a total embargo on trade with Cuba. In February 1962, Kennedy made full use of this authority and officially instituted the U.S. embargo against Cuban communism.

The ravishing theft of American property was not the only factor that weighed in on the decision to penalize the Castro regime. By 1962, Castro trained communist guerrillas had invaded seven Latin American countries (Panama, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, Guatemala, and Colombia) from Cuban soil. Marxist groups from other nations (Argentina, Venezuela, Argelia, Congo, and Bolivia) were actively training to do the same thing. Soviet weaponry was establishing a cushiony base in Cuba, which by November of that year (1962), included nuclear weapons. The U.S. embargo was, and remains, morally and tactically valid, given Castro-Communism’s subversive nature.      

In 1975, President Gerald Ford issued an executive order allowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to sell products in Cuba, thus debilitating the embargo. President Jimmy Carter further weakened it in 1977 by permitting U.S. citizens to travel to and spend dollars in Cuba. One year later, Carter allowed remittances to be sent and Cuban Americans to travel to the Island. The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, reversed course on the appeasement policy established by Ford and Carter.

Cuba embargo
Remittances flow in every year. This is one of Cuba’s principal legitimate entry of hard currency (Archive)

The Reagan administration reinstituted the travel ban and the dollar spending prohibition (1982) and extended the travel ban to Cuban communist officials seeking to “visit” the U.S. (1985). Through the Cuban Democracy Act (1992), George H. W. Bush curtailed U.S. subsidiary trade with the Cuban regime, prohibited American travel, and further restricted remittances. President Bill Clinton both softened and hardened the embargo by reinstating travel and remittances but signing the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (Libertad Act) (1996), which extended the sanctions reach abroad, as well as potentially allowing Americans and Cuban Americans to sue in U.S. courts for stolen property indemnification.

The Clinton administration further relaxed the embargo by allowing direct passenger flights (1998) and signed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (2000) which allowed for the of American food and medicine to Cuba. President George W. Bush (son) reinforced the sanctions by limiting travel and remittances. In 2004, he banned vessels from traveling to Cuba from U.S. ports. President Barack Obama comprehensively eased as much as he could the sanctions and embargo since the Libertad Act transferred the embargos jurisdiction to the congressional realm.

Obama’s Omnibus Appropriations Act (2009) eased travel, remittances, and facilitated as much as a president’s executive instruments could do. President Donald Trump, essentially, reversed Obama’s overtures to the Castro dictatorship and went one step further. Trump has been the only president to enforce Titles III and IV of the Libertad Act. Joseph Biden, most likely eyeing the 2022 mid-term elections, has not wanted to alter course, despite expressing that he would deviate from Trump’s Cuba policy.

Here are some cold facts, $6.6 billion dollars has been received in Cuba from the U.S. in the form of cash and merchandise remittances in 2018. That year, America was the largest provider of food and agricultural products to Cuba valued at $220.5 million. The U.S. is still a premier humanitarian aid supplier. Remittances to Cuba come mainly from American territory. The estimated $6.6 billion dollars sent, in 2018, in the form of cash and merchandise remittances, is a seminal amount of income transfer Cuba receives from the flow of U.S. remittances every year. This is one of Cuba’s principal legitimate entries of hard currency. Where is the American isolation?    

Communist Cuba has relations and trades with most countries in the world. The diatribe against the U.S. embargo is really a hardship grievance about access to American credit, business ventures with American investors, and the lobby that commercial interests bring which seek to consolidate the status quo. That is really what the Marxist dictatorship in Havana is after. The U.N. is being used and taken for fools.   

Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.

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