The Embargo: Both Sides Are Still Living Out the Cold War / Yoani Sanchez

Despite the embargo our stores are full of U.S. products.

Year after year the issue of the U.S. embargo against Cuba is presented in the United Nations. Year after year, the majority of countries votes against this fossil of the Cold War. But even though the existence of such economic sanctions has been condemned 21 times, they remain in force. On both sides of the Florida Straits there are too many interests who want to perpetuate the situation, even though the political discourse says otherwise.

On one side are the many who believe that financially strangling the Cuban government will produce democratic change in Cuba. These are the people who hold the view of the “pressure cooker” on which they just have to put greater and greater pressure until it explodes. For these defenders of the embargo, if daily life on the island becomes ever more miserable due to lack of material goods, Cubans will finally throw themselves into the streets to overthrow the current system. This theory has demonstrated its failure over five decades. What has actually happened is that when the economy hits bottom, people prefer to escape from the Island, legally or illegally – in some cases to literally throw themselves into the sea – rather than confront the powers-that-be.

The others who dream of continuing the embargo are all those ideologues of the Cuban government who have run out of arguments to explain the dysfunction of this system. They are those who need, as in a child’s fairy tale, a big bad wolf to blame for everything. They say it is because of the “blockade” that we can’t enjoy the internet, that we can’t freely associate with others who share our ideas, that we can’t even travel freely. They try to justify everything based on the existence of this mistaken policy of Washington. Trapped in the middle of these two positions are eleven million Cubans, caught between the absurd restrictions of some and the implausible justifications of others.

14 November 2012