Thanks to Gov. Schwarzenegger, the world is suddenly discovering one of the arms of U.S. economic warfare against Cuba:
The celebrity governor known for his love of premium cigars was headed to the Ottawa airport Wednesday when his motorcade made a detour to a hotel. There, Schwarzenegger picked up a Cuban Partagas cigar in a shop, with the $14.83 bill paid by an aide traveling with him, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.
Americans convicted of violating trade regulations can be sentenced to fines or prison, but it wasn't clear Friday if a U.S. citizen had ever been prosecuted for lighting a Cuban cigar in another country. Cuban cigars are imported into Canada legally.
"Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction are prohibited from purchasing or importing Cuban cigars, regardless of where they are," U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said in a statement.
Readers with a long memory will remember that I discussed this subject back in 2004, noting that it's not just illegal to import Cuban cigars or rum into the U.S., it's illegal to purchase them abroad and consume them there. And it's not just illegal for U.S. citizens, but even for permanent resident aliens of the U.S. And it's not just illegal, it's really illegal:
Criminal penalties for violation of the Regulations range up to $1,000,000 in fines for corporations, $250,000 for individuals and up to 10 years in prison. Civil penalties of up to $65,000 per violation may be imposed by OFAC.
If Gov. Schwarzenegger had any balls (and he probably doesn't, thanks to years of steroid abuse), he'd dare the U.S. to prosecute him, and help put an end to this outrage.
I made a (very weak) joke in the last paragraph, but this is no joke. From the very regulations we're talking about, here's one of the qualifiers about prohibited items: "is made or derived in whole or in part of any article which is the growth, produce or manufacture of Cuba." And what does that mean? It means, for example, that steel made with Cuban nickel can't be imported into the United States (or even purchased by an American company and used to construct a building abroad). Which is just one of the very real aspects of the deadly serious economic warfare which the U.S. has been conducting against Cuba for nearly 50 years. Other recent manifestations of the blockade are discussed here.
Since "genocide" is much in the news, readers might want to go back and take a look at an article Ricardo Alarcón (President of the Cuban National Assembly) published in CounterPunch last year. In it, he revealed something rather interesting about the origins of the blockade - a U.S. State Department document from 1960, detailing U.S. policy:
"The majority of Cubans support Castro. The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. It follows that every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba. It should be the result of a positive decision which would call forth a line of action while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government".
As noted here, attempting to bring about "hunger and desperation" in a population is the very definition of genocide, according to the Geneva Convention.
The media are having a laugh at Arnold's expense, but the blockade of Cuba is no joke.
(And while we're mentioning Ricardo Alarcón, be sure to check out the 12-minute interview he gave to Wolf Blitzer yesterday, in which he calls for "regime change" in the United States and much more.)
Reprinted from Left I on the News