Apartheid en Cuba
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    Embargo and Dictatorship

    Cuba: Embargo and Dictatorship

    The United States has kept an economic and financial embargo against the
    Fidel Castro regime for over four decades. Enemies of the embargo say
    this is an obsolete policy, that has had no results in achieving the
    democratization of Cuba.

    After 47 years in power, Castro is giving no sign of political will for
    the democratization of the small island of 12 million souls. Since the
    1959 revolution that made him Cuba’s new “strong man,” the Communist
    leader restricted all fundamental freedoms and confiscated private
    properties, both national and foreign. The Cuban government became the
    Caribbean nation’s only owner of all factories, hospitals, schools,
    theaters, news media, publishing companies, banks and lands, and also
    became the only provider of all other services, including those offered
    by small coffee shops and restaurants, grocery stores and meat markets.

    By July of 1960, Castro had expropiated all U.S. companies valued at
    $1.6 billion, and Cuba’s largest companies valued at $25 billion. A huge
    exodus of Cubans, mostly business people and professionals, began. The
    U.S. embargo as we know it today, was established by President John F.
    Kennedy in 1963, shortly after the dangerous crisis of October, 1962
    when the Soviet Union installed nuclear missiles in Cuban soil aiming at
    the United States.

    Many experts believe that Castro’s radical measures of 1959 and 1960
    were intended to developing a confrontation with the United States, to
    have an excuse for implementing his Communist ideas with the support of
    the Soviet Union, a key player of the Cold War with whom Castro had
    signed a cooperation treaty in February 1960. Few things have changed in
    Cuba since then.

    Certainly, the U.S. embargo has not changed the dictatorial nature of
    the Cuban regime in the last 43 years as an international embargo did
    change the South Africa’s apartheid policy.

    South Africa’s foreign trade and investment were affected by sanctions
    and boycotts, especially during the 1980s and early 1990s. These
    measures included a voluntary arms embargo instituted by the United
    Nations (UN) in 1963, which was declared mandatory in 1977; the 1978
    prohibition of loans from the United States Export-Import Bank; an oil
    embargo first instituted by OPEC in 1973 and strengthened in a similar
    move by Iran in 1979; a 1983 prohibition on IMF loans; a 1985 cutoff of
    most foreign loans by private banks; the United States 1986
    Comprehensive Antiapartheid Act, which limited trade and discouraged
    United States investors; and the 1986 European Economic Community (EEC)
    ban on trade and investment.

    The most effective sanctions measure against South Africa was the
    withdrawal of short-term credits in 1985 by a group of international
    banks. Immediate loan repayments took a heavy toll on the economy. Of
    approximately 350 US companies operating in South Africa, 119 agree “to
    press for broad changes in South African society, including the repeal
    of all apartheid laws and policies,” according to a New York Times’
    article published on December 13, 1984.

    Most liberal and progressive leaders supported the international embargo
    against South Africa. But they have never supported the U.S. embargo
    against Castro. Instead, they have been sharp critics of it and many of
    them keep good ties with the Cuban dictatorship even today.

    Obviously, there is no difference between the South Africa’s former
    policy of racial discrimination and the Cuba’s currently policy of
    political discrimination. That is why, for many of us who supported the
    international sanctions against South Africa in the 80s, there is no
    reason to withdraw our support to the U.S. economic sanctions against
    the Cuban totalitarian regime, even less a few hours after a significant
    number of news media outlets reported the brutal beating in Havana of
    Cuban opposition leader Marta Beatriz Roque, an old woman who was
    sentenced to jail in 2003 and had to be released “on probation” because
    of her poor health conditions, after strong pressures from the United
    States, the European Union and human rights organizations. On April 25,
    2006 a furious civil mob organized by the Cuban Communist Party and
    security forces, broke in her house and kicked her body.

    A well coordinated international embargo against Castro is the only hope
    for Cubans like Roque…, and for the rest of Cubans.

    (Hernandez Cuellar is Publisher and Editor of Contacto Magazine. He has
    been writing on Cuban issues since 1981).


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