The relationship between the U.S. and Cuba since the victory of the revolution in 1959 has been like that of a bully who breaks his victim’s legs and then mocks them for being unable to sprint.
America has tried and failed to destroy Cuba in countless ways, from the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 to the over-600 unsuccessful assassination attempts against former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (one of these included the C.I.A. hiring Castro’s former mistress to poison him – his charms got the better of her though, and the two ended up sleeping together instead).
The most enduring of these destructive policies against Cuba, however, is the trade embargo against the island nation which has endured since 1962. It is the longest sanctions regime in modern history.
According to declassified documents, U.S. policy toward Cuba has been crafted with the specific intention of producing “hunger, desperation and the overthrow of government.”
The trade embargo is supposed to be the means for bringing about such an upheaval, and though the overthrow of the Cuban government has not happened, it’s not for a lack of trying. The embargo has certainly made life more of a burden for ordinary Cubans.
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Because of the embargo, it is difficult for Cuba to obtain essential medical technologies and equipment; third countries can be punished by the U.S. for doing business with Cuba. It has blocked the country from communication services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams and it has cost Cuba more than $130 billion over six decades, according to the United Nations.
The U.N. General Assembly has condemned the American embargo of Cuba 30 years in a row – the most recent condemnation passed with 185 votes to two, with the U.S. and Israel voting against the resolution. The entire world continues to look with disgust at our treatment of the Cuban people.
Under the Obama administration, relations between the U.S. and Cuba improved and the sanctions were somewhat softened.
But the Trump administration reversed this progress and then some, issuing over 240 new sanctions against Cuba which included travel and financial restrictions. The Biden administration, though it has reversed some Trump-era sanctions, is still deeply reactionary toward Cuba. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month that there were no plans to remove Cuba from the U.S.’s ridiculous list of state sponsors of terrorism, for example.
The bourgeois theoreticians have always said that socialism could not and does not work –socialism is an impossibility.
But these theoreticians have never been trusted by governments. The truth of this claim is evident by the policies of the liberal “democracies” of the world toward socialist countries. If the bourgeois theories about socialism are correct, then socialism should fail all on its own – what need is there for intervention?
The U.S. government wants the Cuban government to fail, so why not allow it to fail on its own? There has not been a single socialist country that has been allowed to succeed or fail free of outside meddling from capitalist countries. One can only conclude that the capitalists fear a socialist success story.
And these fears are not unfounded. Though Cuba lies beneath the belly of a hostile beast, they have made incredible strides in several areas. For example, Cubans have a higher life expectancy than Americans, largely due to Cuba’s impressive healthcare system. Isolated from global trade, Cuba developed its own highly effective coronavirus vaccines.
Socially, Cuba has made inspiring progress as well, passing one of the most progressive family codes in the world in 2022, massively expanding the rights of the LGBTQ community. America, on this front, is clearly regressing.
The resilience of the Cuban people is inspiring, but such resilience should not be required of them, or any other people. The American government, if it was worth anything, would do the right thing and lift the embargo which has brought so much misery to Cuba.
And why not, one might wonder. After all, the world has called on us to do so, and the purpose of the embargo – regime change – has clearly failed. But the Democrats probably won’t lift the embargo, and that has a lot to do with America’s worst state: Florida.
Florida has a high population of Cuban Americans, and polling indicates that the majority hate the Cuban government and overwhelmingly support Republicans. Democrats are still living under the delusion that Florida is a swing state, and Biden will likely do nothing about Cuba’s current predicament until at least his second term.
The Democrats need to give up on Florida. It’s an electoral lost cause. If Florida sank into the sea tomorrow, Democrats would probably rejoice.
Democrats should stop trying to cater to the reactionary members of the Cuban diaspora and do the right thing instead. If Cuban socialism will fail, let it fail – but at least remove the knife from Cuba’s back.
Jared Quigg (he/him) is a junior studying journalism and political science.