By a vote of 185 to 2, the world has once again condemned the U.S. blockade of Cuba at the United Nations. The United States was joined only by the apartheid regime of Israel in defense of this brutal policy that seeks to impose maximum suffering on the people of Cuba. This is the 30th year in a row that the UN voted overwhelmingly to call for the blockade to be lifted.
The utter cruelty of the U.S. blockade cannot be overstated. It denies Cuba not only the right to trade with entities in the United States, but also blocks any entity that does business in Cuba from also doing business in the United States. The full weight of the largest economy in the world is applied to ensure that Cuba is unable to import essential goods, including food and medicine. During the worst moments of the COVID pandemic, the U.S. government even prevented Cuba from purchasing oxygen!
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez summed up this criminal policy when he addressed the UN General Assembly in late September:
“For over six decades, we have resisted a ruthless, unilateral, economic, commercial and financial blockade, extremely intensified to unprecedented levels since 2019 and during the pandemic … The US government has put additional pressures on governments, banks and business people worldwide, interested in relations with Cuba. All our sources of revenue and the inflow of foreign currency are being obsessively persecuted with the aim of provoking economic collapse. As a result, the Cuban economy has come under huge pressures affecting industry; the provision of services; creating shortages of food and medicines and undermining consumption and the general well being of the population. The human damage to all the Cuban families this policy has generated, impossible to quantify, is stark, real and significant. The blockade is an act of economic war in times of peace.”
The intensification since 2019 that Rodríguez refers to includes the 243 additional measures imposed by the Trump administration on Cuba that tightened the blockade even further. This policy of total economic warfare has been maintained by the Biden administration, which has also sought to promote counterrevolutionary violence inside the country, most notably in July of last year.
Cuba is dealing with extreme difficulties stemming from natural disasters that are made exponentially worse by the blockade. On August 5, an enormous fire broke out at a major oil storage facility in the province of Matanzas, wreaking havoc on the country’s electrical system and intensifying blackouts — and claiming the lives of 14 heroic firefighters. And the following month, Hurricane Ian struck the country, dealing a further blow to the power grid and causing huge damage to agriculture. Even from a purely humanitarian point of view, the lifting or at the very least easing of economic restrictions on Cuba is an absolute imperative at this moment.
Additionally, Biden must reverse Cuba’s outrageous designation as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” Cuba, a victim of CIA-sponsored terrorism itself that has claimed the lives of thousands of its people, was absurdly classified as such because it hosted peace talks between the Colombian government and rebel groups! Only in the twisted world view of the U.S. empire is support for peace an act of terrorism. This slanderous label is designed to even further deter anyone from relating to Cuba in any way.
The governments and peoples of the world reject the U.S. blockade, and so do an increasing number of people in the United States. Cuba should be our neighbor, not our enemy. This is something that both peoples would benefit from. Despite enormous obstacles, Cuba’s world-renowned medical professionals remarkably developed five different COVID vaccines, and Cuba gives us an example of a society organized according to values that are suppressed under capitalism — solidarity, equality, compassion and dignity. The Party for Socialism and Liberation joins with the whole world in demanding the end of the blockade.