Cuba, U.S.A.: Blogger Perspectives on the Embargo’s 50th Anniversary

Yours truly in an interview with Janine Mendes-Franco from Global Voices regarding the 50th anniversary of the U.S. embargo against the Castro dictatorship:

Cuba, U.S.A.: Blogger Perspectives on the Embargo’s 50th Anniversary (Part 1)

[…] Global Voices: The U.S. embargo on Cuba – probably the longest-running economic ban in history – recently turned 50! Supporters see it as a necessary measure against a communist government; critics say that the policy is a failure that is really not hurting the regime, but instead, the average Cuban. Where do you stand on the issue?

Alberto de la Cruz: It is hard to argue the U.S. embargo against the Castro dictatorship hurts the Cuban people when in 2010 (the latest figures available), the Cuban government imported over $400-million in food from the U.S. While the embargo limits trade, it allows food to be sold to the Cuban government on a cash basis. If that food is not reaching the average Cuban and is instead being sent to the Cuban military owned hotels and resorts to feed tourists, that is not because of the embargo, it is because of the Castro regime [which] ultimately controls the distribution of all food on the island. It is interesting to note that none of those who suggest the trade embargo against the Castro dictatorship hurts only the average Cuban can explain why the vast majority of Cubans continue to live in abject poverty when the Castro government, according to their own figures, had over $8-billion dollars in imports in 2010. While Cubans struggle to feed their families, Cuban children are denied milk once they turn six, the most basic items are nearly impossible to find, and ration books are still in use. In Cuba’s tourist hotels and resorts, which again, are owned by the Cuban military, there is no shortage of food, soap, milk, or anything else. If an embargo is hurting the Cuban people, it is the embargo placed upon them by the Castro regime.

What the U.S. “embargo” actually does is prevent the Castro government from adding the U.S. to its long list of debtors who are currently owed billions of dollars with no hope of getting paid in the foreseeable future. From that perspective, the embargo has been a phenomenal success. We are perhaps the only nation in the world that does business with Cuba who is not owed millions of dollars by a regime with a decades-long history of not honoring their financial commitments.

GV: What do you think the embargo has accomplished, if anything?

AdlC: In addition to precluding the U.S. from becoming another victim of the Castro regime’s propensity for borrowing money and not paying it back, the U.S. embargo is the only leverage the U.S. has against the Castro dictatorship. As history indicates, the countries that have normalized relations and business dealings with the Castro government are severely limited in their ability to demand respect for human rights on the island. When these countries have attempted to pressure the Cuban dictatorship into stopping their repressive tactics, their economic interests on the island are immediately threatened. Therefore, their decision to promote respect for human rights in Cuba ceases to be a moral one and becomes an economic decision instead. Since, because of the embargo, the U.S. has zero investments on the island that can be threatened, it can maintain its firm stance on human rights and democracy for the Cuban people.

GV: Do you think the embargo, as it stands now, is doing anything to improve the political or human rights situation in Cuba?

AdlC: In essence, yes. The U.S. embargo has deprived the Castro dictatorship of hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars it can use to maintain and fuel its machine of repression. For the past fifty years, the Cuban regime has used hard currency provided by other countries – beginning with the former Soviet Union and now Venezuela – to fund its brutal, East German Stasi-trained State Security apparatus. By denying the Castro regime U.S. dollars from American tourism, credit, and normalized trade, they have less cash to maintain, strengthen, and expand their repressive policies.

Read the entire interview HERE.