Skip to main content

View Diary: Updated: Neocolonial U.S. Blockade of Cuba Should End, and Gitmo Should Close Too (66 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Good question. It is important not to confuse (8+ / 0-)

    lifting the blockade, which I support, with what Cuba should do once the blockade is lifted, which should be up to Cuba. That would be much better decided if Cuba were not authoritarian, but it is still Cuba's decision to evaluate:

    As long as Cuba is not a democratic socialist country, but rather is a state monopoly capitalist country, its ability to represent the best interest of the people in matters of trade is highly suspect. Party leaders may (or may not) skim off revenues generated by the imported goods rather than equitably using the revenues for the people. A “free” Cuba should not in my opinion necessarily be a “free-trading” Cuba, anymore than any other country should be. Any international trade outside a social compact should be undertaken only with great care. I am not for neoliberal free trade that benefits capitalists and may actually harm the people overall by, among other things, harming the ability of a country to ensure that the basic needs of all of its people are met. Neoliberal-created or enlarged slums of desperate people the world over are evidence of free-trade’s potential harmful effects.

    Food is one area where unbridled dependency on imports is highly problematic. Food is a justice and security issue of the first order. I place a lot of emphasis on the concept of “workers’ gardens” because I believe it makes sense as a matter of soil science, sustainability, and social planning to allow everyone the opportunity to grow at least some of their own food. Often-times, as with Dominican Republic food imports, free trade can foster unhealthy levels of dependency, hegemony, and other harmful effects. (See my photo and discussion of “Harina Blanquita.”) It can engender an alienated and vulnerable people fully dependent upon capitalist-provided hiring and adequate wages to buy food. (Adequate jobs and wages will not materialize for all people, leading to acts of desperation such as crime and prostitution. In times of broader capitalist crises such as recessions and depressions, ever-present capitalist desperation merely becomes more widespread.) It can effectively drive small domestic food producers out of business and into urban slums, run counter to a peasant-friendly land distribution, and contribute to a large-scale export-driven limited-commodity agricultural sector, one that in turn might be driven toward non-food production (bioenergy, for instance) or be susceptible to international land-grabs. It can put people out of work, lower traditional crop production, and make customary varied diets less accessible, leading to health problems and micronutrient deficiency even if consumption of protein and calories is adequate.

    That does not mean that I am always against food trade and never for large-scale industrial agricultural production. Bread baskets of the world must be fully utilized (but much more sustainably than is currently done). Soil is a critical global resource that must be carefully stewarded to meet everyone’s basic needs. I believe a robust international entity such as a modified U.N. needs to be capable of participating in this stewarding to make sure that no one is left hungry and vulnerable. All the Caribbean islands import most of their food, and the world is full of hungry people who have to eat. However, as I discuss in A Winding Path to Workers’ Gardens/Un camino de bobina a jardines de trabajadores, to its credit, Cuba is the one island doing a good job of obtaining a high level of sustainable domestic food production, particularly with respect to fruits and vegetables. It is allowing more and more small-scale farming operations to use otherwise idle good arable land, empowering the farmers to work hard and receive material incentives for their high production. It would not be good for Cuba to lose these gains.

    My avatar is a photograph I took in 2008 of the headwaters of a waterfall in the imperiled Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on La Gomera, birthplace of my paternal grandfather, in the Canary Islands near the Sahara Desert.

    by Galtisalie on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:23:26 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Galtisalie - is it really a blockade? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Galtisalie, nextstep, Shockwave, ColoTim

      Blockade usually means stopping any ships from entering a port(s). I don't think the US Navy is stopping any vessels from entering Cuban ports.

      Do you mean the embargo where US goods can't be shipped to Cuba?

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:34:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another good question. Here is what the (4+ / 0-)

        Reuters article cited above says about that. It is a "blockade" in my opinion, and certainly Cuba's, which does not necessarily require a militarily-forced blockade, but can also relate to economic duress placed on companies that may be tempted to violate it.

        Obama has lifted some restrictions on travel and on the sending of remittances to the island, but Moreno said the embargo and its enforcement had been broadened in other areas.

        "The blockade not only is being maintained, but strengthened in some aspects," Moreno charged.

        "I ask what right does the United States have to sanction companies that are not North American," he said, charging that since Obama took office in 2009, fines against embargo violators, domestic and foreign, had dramatically increased and totaled $2.5 billion to date.

        Cuba says the embargo is a blockade because it punishes third country companies for doing business with Havana.

        Many critics of Cuba's one-party system, including dissidents on the island, also have called for lifting the embargo, saying it is counter-productive.

        My avatar is a photograph I took in 2008 of the headwaters of a waterfall in the imperiled Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on La Gomera, birthplace of my paternal grandfather, in the Canary Islands near the Sahara Desert.

        by Galtisalie on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:39:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We have every right to tell foreign companies that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hmi

          they must choose between doing business with the US or Cuba.

          •  The "right" would be wrong in that case, (0+ / 0-)

            as all of the nations of the world except three will likely remind the U.S. of today.

            My avatar is a photograph I took in 2008 of the headwaters of a waterfall in the imperiled Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on La Gomera, birthplace of my paternal grandfather, in the Canary Islands near the Sahara Desert.

            by Galtisalie on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 03:38:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Is that an 'inalienable' right? (5+ / 0-)

            Given to our nation from on high by our anti-communist Supreme Being?

            "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

            by Crider on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 05:32:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No, just basic national sovereignty (0+ / 0-)

              We have no obligation to let any particular foreign company do business with or in the US.

              •  Well, not until all the free trade treaties (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                AuroraDawn

                are signed.  Then, according to diaries here on DKos, the US will not have many legal rights to challenge companies from those other countries from doing business here.

                •  Actually, EU has used the WTO's dispute resolution (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Sky Net

                  process against the US on this issue.

                  The back and forth has been very complex, but apparently for now the US has the upper hand.

                  The jeremiads on DK claiming that WTO and similar free trade agreements run rough shod over US sovereignty are rather exaggerated.

                  •  Gitmo and the blockade of Cuba are not about (0+ / 0-)

                    a trade dispute. It is important that trade issues with Cuba be put on an equal playing field with the rest of the world. Many complexities exist in international trade, and many injustices. None of this excuses putting Cuba on a special blockade list. None of it excuses the continuing occupation of Gitmo under an unjust 1903 lease deeply resented by Cubans.

                    My avatar is a photograph I took in 2008 of the headwaters of a waterfall in the imperiled Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on La Gomera, birthplace of my paternal grandfather, in the Canary Islands near the Sahara Desert.

                    by Galtisalie on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 05:50:13 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  "el bloqueo" (5+ / 0-)

        In Cuba, the word used is the cognate of "blockade." But in practice it is an embargo.

        What makes it more like a blockade is that the US has exerted extreme pressure on other countries and non-US companies to try to prevent them from trading with Cuba either. It's been wildly ineffective (you can buy Coca-Cola -- from Coca-Cola Mexico -- everywhere on the island, computers from Asia preloaded with Microsoft software, and pirated first-run US movies with Spanish dubbing). But Congress (thanks to its hardline Cuban-exile members) keeps trying to control all trade in and out of Cuba, not just US-based.

    •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

      I see your point, but you seem to be walking back on the usefulness of lifting the embargo.  If you want strict restrictions on trade and investment, there doesn't seem to be much point.  I'm sure you're not in favor of having US workers compete with Cuban workers that make $12/month, and if you don't want the US to export food to Cuba, there's not much left of an economic relationship.  Tourism, I suppose, but that's it.

      Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

      by Sky Net on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:41:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  $2.5 billion is a lot of fines. That is fact, (5+ / 0-)

        and not insignificant. I am not for Cuban workers making widgets for slave wages to export to the U.S., any more than I am for Chinese or Indonesian workers doing the same. We need a global social contract. I appreciate the complexity of the trade issues, especially regarding any impacts of trade on U.S. workers. Worker protection is not the basis for the U.S. blockade or most of what the U.S. does internationally.

        I am not an expert on the Cuba-U.S. trade issues, but I have looked a fair amount at the DR-U.S. trade relationship, and I would hope that it would not emulate that relationship.

        I think that U.S. sugar imports from Cuba could be a big economic issue, and on the U.S. side, guest workers are heavily exploited, while on the Cuba side, by Cuba's low wage standards, I am told that they incentivize Cuban sugar cane workers' pay based on productivity. I also think that Florida hotels and resorts, and other Caribbean resorts could be fearing the competition. I think that travel is actually a big deal for that reason, as it would be much bigger if U.S. citizens were freely able to vacation in Cuba.

        The complexities you raise are real, but I maintain that they do not excuse the blockade (much less Gitmo's existence).

        My avatar is a photograph I took in 2008 of the headwaters of a waterfall in the imperiled Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on La Gomera, birthplace of my paternal grandfather, in the Canary Islands near the Sahara Desert.

        by Galtisalie on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 05:55:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also, I am not against food exports from (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bisbonian, flowerfarmer, lotlizard

        the U.S. to Cuba per se, but against the collapse of domestic food production and healthy diets, which happened in the DR. No island in the Caribbean is food self-sufficient, but Cuba is a lot better than any other comparable place on that issue. The U.S. exports to Mexico have driven a lot of people off the farm and into urban slums, and many to the U.S., where they, like the Haitians in the DR, work harassed and in limbo, without political or civil rights.

        My avatar is a photograph I took in 2008 of the headwaters of a waterfall in the imperiled Parque Nacional de Garajonay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on La Gomera, birthplace of my paternal grandfather, in the Canary Islands near the Sahara Desert.

        by Galtisalie on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:05:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site