After 55 years, time to end embargo against Cuba

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In late 1958, things were not going well for Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cuba's economy was on the ropes, with thousands of rural and urban poor people idled and destitute through much of the year. Three quarters of agricultural land was controlled by big landowners. In some rural areas, only half the adult population was literate. U.S. conglomerates dominated the economy. Batista's gangsterish regime had opened up Cuba to U.S. organized crime, turning Havana into a center of gambling, drugs and prostitution. But the Cuban people would no longer tolerate this state of affairs, and the combination of repression and bribery could no longer hold things together. The revolutionaries of the 26th of July Movement headed by Fidel Castro were defeating Batista's army in every battle. The Eisenhower administration in the United States ditched Batista and tried to find a pliant leader who could fend off Castro. They could not. As a general strike swept Cuba, Batista fled.

On January 1 1959, revolutionary forces headed by Fidel and Raul Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos took full control, and began a process which transformed Cuba into a socialist state and a bulwark of solidarity for people's struggles all over the world.

For 55 years, successive U.S. administrations and their allies in other countries have done everything humanly possible to reverse the consequences of that historic day. Terrorism, sabotage and the Bay of Pigs invasion did not work. Economic strangulation has not worked. Lies have not worked. Cuba was battered by the collapse of Soviet and Eastern European socialism, but did not go under. Each year, claims that Cuba is "isolated' ring hollow when the U.N. General Assembly votes, by increasingly lopsided margins, to denounce the U.S. policy of the economic blockade of Cuba. In November 2013, it was 188 to 2 with 3 abstentions. The nay votes were those of the United States and Israel only. It is the United States that has isolated itself from the world family of nations with its policy toward Cuba.

The blockade has inflicted billions of dollars on the Cuban economy and denied Cubans access to medical and technical supplies. It has also cost workers and farmers in the United States thousands of lost jobs as opportunities for the export of agricultural and manufactured goods have been denied.

In spite of this, the socialist government in Cuba has made enormous progress in meeting the needs of all of its people. Cuba has the highest standards in Latin America and the Caribbean in educational achievement, health care and infant and child welfare. It has more doctors proportional to its population than does the United States, and Cuba's infant mortality rate is lower than that of the United States (4 infant deaths per 1000 live births per year as opposed to 6 in the United States).

Cuba is a founding member of the nine-nation Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). Within that organization, Cuba works to create models of trade and development that will allow the poorest countries of the hemisphere to serve the needs of their peoples without having to bow down to the richer countries or to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Cuban military aid missions helped to end the apartheid system in South Africa. Today, Cuban non-military aid is providing vital help to poor countries all over the world in the fields of education, health care and science. To the poorest countries, this aid is provided free of charge.

Under President Raul Castro, socialist Cuba continues on its revolutionary course.

We in the United States have a responsibility to do more than just praise and admire the Cuban Revolution. We have a responsibility to change our own country's policies toward Cuba, and we can make that change it if we enlist the support of the American people. Let us resolve that in the year 2014, we join with our coworkers, neighbors, friends and relatives to pressure the U.S. government to:

*Talk to the Cuban government about freeing the four remaining members of the Cuban 5 group, who were given draconian prison sentences for their work against terrorist groups in the U.S. These groups have caused death and destruction in Cuba. The door is wide open for this: The Cuban government has stated that it is always ready to talk, and imprisoned U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross and his family are also demanding the U.S. negotiate with Cuba.

*End the restrictions on the right of U.S. citizens to visit Cuba. These restrictions are a violation of our own rights.

*End the blockade of Cuba, a sovereign country that has never done anything to harm the people of the U.S.A., and restore normal diplomatic and trade relations between our two countries.

To accomplish this will entail visiting members of Congress, contacting the White House and the State Department, circulating petitions, passing resolutions in labor unions, faith based organizations and other groups, writing letters to the editor and op eds in the press, organizing and participating in demonstrations and other events and taking advantage of every opportunity and using every available platform to patiently explain the real issues to our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors. All is worthwhile if it is done with perseverance and is addressed to the whole of the U.S. people.

We can do it! Let's get this done this year!

¡Viva la Revolución Cubana! ¡Viva Cuba Socialista!

Photo: Prensa Latina

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  • The embargo has only served some opportunistic businessman and create some bitterness between people from both countries. I am sure that if it doesn't exist in the first place, Cuba would be in a better shape and people between the relations between the two countries would be better.

    Posted by Ana Romero, 01/09/2014 5:21pm (9 months ago)

  • Quoting: "In November 2013, it [the UN General Assembly voted] 188 to 2 with 3 abstentions. The nay votes were those of the United States and Israel only. It is the United States that has isolated itself from the world family of nations with its policy toward Cuba.

    Clearly, U.S. leaders, especially GOPers, are isolated delusionists. They are pathetic.

    An it would figure that the only nations opposing the vote would be the U.S., and its "spoiled child" Israel.

    Posted by , 01/08/2014 11:34am (9 months ago)

  • call your congress person & inform the internist about the blockade & tell them about the the 5 hero`s who tried to stop terrorism in socialist cuba..i call debbie wasserman at least once a week..give them websites for information..do something !..try to be an activist. venceremos con amour, siempre

    Posted by albie, 01/07/2014 6:39pm (10 months ago)

  • Please reword your editorial to say:
    "The blockade has inflicted billions of dollars worth of damage to the Cuban economy..."

    Posted by Eric Gordon, 01/07/2014 4:29pm (10 months ago)

  • As long as we have a member of the Democratic Party sitting in the Oval Office, who is more interested in visiting Miami than doing the right thing, the Cuba embargo will unfortunately continue.

    Barack Obama is as phony as a $3 dollar bill. No difference from Dubbya.

    Do not reward the Democratic or Republican capitalist parties with your votes for POTUS candidacy.

    I included a link to your excellent editorial in my post of Jan 2, 2014.

    Have a happy new year!

    Posted by Jorge Gonzalez, 01/04/2014 12:01pm (10 months ago)

  • Having visited Cuba 6 times as an invited guest for the IGF fishing (Hemingway tournament), it is clearly apparent the US embargo to Cuba has severely hurt the general population far worse than any of our politiicans would care to admit.

    In the US we manufacture what they want and don't have. Everything from shampoo, soap, medical supplies and basic household goods & food.

    Without a doubt if we opened trade with Cuba, it would create easily 100,000 new jobs in the US to handle the influx of business orders that would need to be filled, much more the dollars that would put people to work in expanding our port facilities to accommodate this new trading partner.

    Yes, instead of paying $1.00 for a tube of toothpaste, the citizens now have to pay $3 for the same thing coming to them thru a distributor from Mexico. Multiply this for everything they use versus the meager amount of $$$ most families have and is easy to see how this has reduced the average person's lifestyle and continues to be the reason that so many defectors risk their lives trying to cross the Florida straights in row boats, overloaded and dangerous.

    The embargo has not worked for 50 years!!! Why our politiicans in other states than Florida will not address this issue is quite a mystery to me. Anyone with one ounce of common sense can see the benefits of opening trade with Cuba.

    Posted by jim williams, 01/03/2014 9:10pm (10 months ago)

  • I am one of the greatest admirers of the Cuban revolution and its accomplishments. Whether or not you agree with me is not important. What is important is that the blockade against trade and travel to and frm cuba be ended. It is long past time for this injust ice to be reversed.

    Posted by Rayleen Nunez, 01/03/2014 1:31pm (10 months ago)

  • Viva Cuba! un buen artículo! feliz año nuevo!

    Posted by Nancy Pontius, 01/03/2014 8:50am (10 months ago)

  • Wherever I go, Hemingway On Stage will advance the cause of Cuba. I have met the people of Cuba and they have become my friends, forever. They are a fine, intelligent, loving people who have been victimized by the embargo. America, do what is right. Stop harming an innocent island of good people. Do no more harm. Restore Cuba's freedom. You will not be sorry.

    Hemingway On Stage will donate a complimentary performance in support of Cuba whenever asked. So ask!

    Posted by Brian Gordon Sinclair AKA Hemingway On Stage, 01/02/2014 11:43pm (10 months ago)

  • My hat is off to the Peoples World staff who dedicated our efforts in 2014 to Free the four remaining members of the Cuban 5 group - at the top of their list.
    There is a clear role to play for the US government to reverse a failed policy toward Cuba that goes back to the rise of US imperialism when the victory of Cuba over Spain was denied by US military intervention in 1898.
    The handshake seen around the world in Soweto, South Africa, was just the beginning to recognize publicly the need for US reconciliation and reconstruction of relations with Cuba. By removing Cuba from the US State Department list of "State sponsors of terrorism", our government can send the signal that opens the door to negotiations.
    Because our Cuban 5 brothers have inspired the world with their altruism and sense of duty to prevent terrorism, we stand with them at the threshold of a new era of peace and understanding with the Cuban people.
    For these reasons, let us say, President Obama, give me Five!

    Posted by Richard Grassl, 01/02/2014 7:17pm (10 months ago)

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