The economic blockade on Cuba, which has been in effect for 50 years, is the longest that has been imposed on any nation. This violates Cuba’s sovereignty and the Cuban people’s right to self-determination. It is a unilateral, flagrant act of aggression by the US.
By BENJIE OLIVEROS
Fifty one years ago, on a tiny island measuring 42,803 sq. miles (110,860 sq. km), around 6 million people successfully ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista, who ruled Cuba after grabbing power twice through a coup d’ etat, in 1933 and 1952. During his first power grab in 1933, he ruled Cuba up to 1944. When he led another coup d’ etat in 1952, he held on to power until he was toppled on January 1, 1959 through a revolution led by Fidel Castro.
Batista brutally ruled the country killing 20,000 people while enriching himself by allowing American corporations such as Standard Oil, which controlled oil explorations and ITT that monopolized the telecommunications industry, and the Mafia, which controlled gambling and prostitution, to rake in profits at the expense of the Cuban people. While a few sugar and tobacco barons then were scandalously rich, majority of the people lived in poverty. The average family income in 1953 was $6 per week, 15 to 20 percent of the population were unemployed, and only one third of households have running water. So, when the Cuban revolution succeeded, it was a victory of the Cuban people, and a triumph of democracy.
However, the US government views it differently. A few months after the victory of the Cuban revolution, on October 1960, the Eisenhower administration declared a partial embargo on all exports to and imports from Cuba, except food, medicines, and medical supplies. On February 1961, the Kennedy administration imposed a total embargo. In April 1961, the Central Intelligence Agency supported an armed intrusion of Cuban exiles from Florida to Cuba dubbed as the Bay of Pigs invasion, which was easily repulsed by the Cuban Army because it did not generate any support from the population. In February 1963, the Kennedy government imposed penalties on foreign merchant ships that docked in Cuban ports. By July 1963, travel of US citizens to Cuba was made illegal and Cuban assets in the US were frozen. In 1992, the US Congress passed a law prohibiting subsidiaries of US corporations from transacting business with Cuba. By 1995, then President Clinton signed the Helms-Burton law, known as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act which imposed sanctions on foreign companies that trade in nationalized U.S. property in Cuba. Even the current Obama administration, which ran under the banner of change, declared that it would not lift the economic blockade on Cuba. The economic blockade on Cuba, which has been in effect for 50 years, is the longest that has been imposed on any nation.
Aside from this, the US funded and supported various efforts to topple the Cuban government, including repeated attempts on Fidel Castro’s life, the bombing of its biggest hotel, hijackings, among others. US-funded terrorist attacks against Cuba have claimed 3,478 lives and have left 2,099 people permanently disabled. Between 1959 and 2003, there were 61 hijackings of planes or boats. Between 1961 and 1996, there were 58 attacks from the sea. The CIA has directed and supported over 4,000 individuals in 299 paramilitary groups. They are responsible for 549 murders and thousands of people wounded.
In a Dec. 15, 2005 article for the website Voltairenet.org, Salim Lamrani, a French writer who is an expert on US-Cuba relations, wrote:
“US official documents that have been recently been declassified show that, between October 1960 and April 1961, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) smuggled in 75 tons of explosives into Cuba during 30 clandestine air operations, and infiltrated 45 tons of weapons and explosives during 31 sea incursions. Also during that short seven-month time span, the CIA carried out 110 attacks with dynamite, planted 200 bombs, derailed six trains and burned 150 factories and 800 plantations.
Between 1959 and 1997, the United States carried out 5,780 terrorist actions against Cuba – 804 of them considered as terrorist attacks of significant magnitude, including 78 bombings against the civil population that caused thousands of victims.”
Ironically, the US even included Cuba in its list of ‘terrorists.’
The economic blockade violates Cuba’s sovereignty and the Cuban people’s right to self-determination. It is a unilateral, flagrant act of aggression by the US.
Thus, the call to end the blockade has been generating popular support from the international community. Every year since 1992, the UN General Assembly has been ratifying resolutions calling for an end to the blockade. The 2009 UN General Assembly Resolution 64/6 got 187 favorable votes, with only the US, Israel, and the Marshall Islands voting against it. A few days ago, on October 26, the UN General Assembly, for the 19th time, passed a resolution on “The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America Against Cuba,” with 187 voting favorably, two countries voting against it,namely the US and Israel, and three abstentions from the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
Once again, the self-styled policeman of the world, the US, has shown its true color, that of an aggressor. (Bulatlat.com)