By Jomo Thomas
Three months after Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, launched an international campaign to end the US government’s illegal blockade against Cuba, the economic and social conditions in the socialist republic continues to deteriorate. We have long maintained that revolutions are not defeated. They are pressured, blackmailed, deformed, strangled and eventually destroyed.
The international community has an obligation to ensure that the American obsession with domination and control of the internal affairs of other countries is brought to an end. Every country has the right, in fact the duty to order its internal affairs as it fit. The cardinal principle of non-interference in the international affairs of nations must be respected.
What the United States government is doing to Cuba and Venezuela is not only a violation of international law and an affront to the rights of people to sovereignty and to choose their own economic part to development, the criminal policies violate the most fundamental norms of international relations.
For more than 60 years, the American government has decided against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the international community that the Cuba and later Venezuelan experiments aimed at bringing a better life to their citizens should be pressured and snuffed out. As Maurice Bishop, former revolutionary Grenadian prime minister, said, ‘the Americans are mortally afraid of revolution’s successes. They are afraid of the example.’ Simply put, to pressure a people into submission by sabotaging their economy is a form of genocide. No other country does this and gets away with it. It is a policy of might equals right.
And this is why Mexico’s initiative is so vital. The Mexican president noted that the United Nations vote with one or two exceptions each year. (Last year, only the USA and Israel voted to maintain the blockage). Sadly, when the votes are tallied and the results made known, everything returns to normal.
All of this is in the face of the fact that the world is shifting, and the United States is no longer the sole dominant economic and political power it once was. But we must not underestimate the economic, political, cultural and military heft Washington continues to wield in the world. Moa Zhe Tung’s notion that America is a paper tiger has been proven wrong.
With the rise of the People’s Republic of China and its emergence as the industrial workhorse of the world, its economy second only to the United States, the formation of the BRICS block, which unites Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, one is left to wonder why these countries cannot and have not done more to protect and preserve many of the gains made by the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions. International law demands no less.
The United States continues its blockage against these countries and gets the entire world to participate. It uses its laws to prevent commerce and other economic activity with countries that trade with Cuba or Venezuela; uses its military to block sea lanes, board commercial vessels and force them to change course; disrupts banking arrangements, and restricts people-to-people contact even among families. Cubans living 90 miles away in Miami cannot send barrels or money to their friends and families as we in SVG take for granted.
As the Mexican president said, ‘Cuba is not a dangerous country. Cuba is a world leader in health and education. It continues to offer invaluable assistance to people all over the world.’ Yet there is a spiteful insistence by the United States to crush the efforts of the Cuban and Venezuelan people toward peace and development.
In 1972, Michael Manley of Jamaica, Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Errol Barrow of Barbados and Dr Eric Williams of Trinidad and Togabo, in an act of courage and independence, simultaneously announced that they were establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. The Mexican initiative is timely and urgently needed if the Cuban revolution is to gain breeding space and lend more benefits to its people. As we saw last May Day, Cuba was forced, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, to cancel its annual Labour Day celebration because of a fuel shortage.
Reports out of Cuba are that the economic conditions are increasingly difficult for most citizens. President Biden has added to the tightened embargo that Trump imposed after the brief easing of economic pressures by President Obama.
Support for the Mexican initiative to end the embargo should come with a renewed effort on the part of Caribbean leaders to ensure that Cuba and Venezuela break free of the US pressures. Much like Burnham, Barrow, Manley and Williams, CARICOM leaders need to ensure that Cuba and Venezuela not only survive American pressure but thrive.
Venezuela has offered billions of dollars in economic assistance through its Petro Caribe fuel initiative, and Cuba, with its limited resources, has frequently answered humanity’s call for help. As the saying goes, ‘When the world calls, Cuba answers.’
The world has frowned on the vicious and bullying tactics of the United States. But Cuba and Venezuela need far more than symbolic disapproval. They need active support. A country with the resources of Venezuela can lend invaluable economic and commercial assistance to the rest of the region. However, it can’t do more because the US is intent on making life difficult, smashing its economy, destroying its oil sector and pressuring international banks and lending institutions from offering credit.
Cuba has shown that its doctors and scientists can compete and outclass their counterparts from countries with much more resources.
Now more than ever, an international brigade of solidarity and action is needed to ensure that the dog-eat-dog policies currently dominating international relations are abandoned. A renewed effort is required to break through the US policies of aggression and isolation.
Cuba and Venezuela deserve our support. Caribbean governments need to support the Mexican initiative to ensure that Cuba can strive, develop and grow, thus offering more benefits to their people.
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