Arguing For The Embargo

Yesterday’s post by Conductor got me to think about past posts and columns which clearly and intelligently express the reasons why the embargo should remain in place, if not strengthened even more.

Just after posting this I saw Conductor’s Part 2, therefore I have moved this to the top for better continuity of thought.

We all know that this topic comes up quite frequently here and in other Cuba-related blogs. But after reading Conductor’s linked articles regurgitating the same old and tired anti-embargo arguments along the lines of: “After 40+ years it’s time for change”, “If the U.S. can trade with China and Vietnam then why not Cuba?”, and “Cuba policy is being held hostage by a small group of influential exiles in Florida”, I figured it’s once again a good time to present our side of the argument.

I’ll start off with this column by El Nuevo Herald columnist Vicente Echerri published in today’s Miami Herald and which provides a bit of a unique perspective to the pro-embargo argument:

The error perhaps is the failure of the international community in seeing and appraising Castro’s rule in a holistic or comprehensive way. It is easier, I can understand, to judge the commission of particular crimes, the violations of the human rights of specific individuals, than to address the entire nature of a perverse system and, consequently, to find a consensus to deal with it or the instruments for its punishment or dismissal.

The demonization of Castroism was and has been in my opinion — and in that of most of my fellow Cuban exiles — the right response of the American government to that challenge; and the embargo, extended for more than four decades, its coherent implementation.

Read the entire column here.

Also, make sure to check out these earlier pieces by Conductor:

Kitchen Sink Arguments
Ask A Cuban-American About The Embargo

Think of this as a resource and research tool for the next time this discussion pops up.

5 thoughts on “Arguing For The Embargo”

  1. Good piece; wish more people would take this money quote seriously: “Confronting a gross violator of human rights, as the Cuban dictatorship, with timid diplomatic approaches is a doomed enterprise.”

    Echerri uses “timid” ~ a nice way of saying “cowardly.” But he’s right, it never works.

    I want to take this time to wish all fellow Babalusians, posters and readers and even the occasional troll, a very merry Christmas, and whatever else you may be celebrating this week. Please have a safe one, wherever you are. Thanks to Val and the webmaster and everyone that makes the blog possible.

    God bless you.

  2. First, let me thank Robert M for making a space where we can discuss the US embargo towards Cuba. Its a very important issue, currently and for the future. My position concerning the embargo is that it violates international laws and has little merit as a legitimate policy. Nevertheless, I don’t dismiss it entirely as a part of future negotiations. Or, as Jaime Suchlicki puts it, a “bargaining chip” for the future.

    Here’s my rebuttal to Echerri:

    Echerri’s false arguments begin with the complaint that the “failure of the international community” is clearly shown by the “presence of two opposite
    policies” towards Cuba within the UN: the decision of the UN General Assembly against the US embargo and the decision of the UN Commission on Human Rights against Cuba.

    There are no errors, nor contradictions in these two decisions. Both decisions are in full accordance to the principles of the UN Charter,
    and international law. One need only read the specific UN resolutions to find this out.

    Yet, Echerri continues in his erroneous path by stating that he can explain this international “contradiction” with two models: international law
    and philosophy (or religion). Unfortunately, the UN does not make resolutions by philosophical discussion, thus Echerri’s model does not apply.
    Also, by violating the UN Charter, the US embargo is neither a “worthy and outstanding exception.”

    Based on false assumptions of international law, Echerri continues to elaborate that the US embargo towards Cuba is the “right response” and “duly
    proportional to the lack of human rights and freedoms” in Cuba. Yet, Echerri provides no basis in international law to support his comments.

    Ironically, Echerri concludes that his “relevant duty” is to preserve the “precarious status quo of Castro’s regime” in the international arena. As
    noble as this may seem, it is important to note that this can be accomplished without violating the principles of the UN Charter and international law. Echerri seems to argue for a paradox: supporting the international arena, while violating its own principles at the same time.

    Such contempt for international standards can only come from arrogance that in the end quips: We just want our country back.

  3. Thanks for your comments, I’ll respond briefly to a couple of points you made.

    – Echerri makes no claims that the philosophical approach the U.S. takes vis-a-vis Cuba is supported by international law or the United Nations. He clearly makes the distinction between the denouncement of concrete violations supported by international law and the U.S. stance which is based on the sum of the parts. In essence, he is saying that the U.S. is alone in taking this approach which he believes is the correct one.

    – I hate to make the comparison, but here goes. The embargo against South Africa in the 80s was multi-lateral and I’m pretty sure had UN support. No doubt apartheid violates human rights and is one of those concrete violations Echerri mentions. Using the same principle, why is Cuba treated differently? If the UN recognizes Cuba’s numerous and repeated human rights violations, then why the kid gloves treatment?

    That’s the question most embargo supporters ask, and with good reason.

  4. why indeed is cuba treated differently? is it because u.n. third rate nations can vicariosly live through fidel’anti-american rants? and thus frustrate in veiled indolence any group that could frustrate their fidel fantasy.the u.n. is irrelevant to the cuban regime as they have nothing but contempt for law.they do not allow or recognize u.n. human right nor u.n. red cross inspections of it’s 300 plus prisons. fidel and his cartel only employ sophisticated sofistry upon weak and corruptible men, who then are entangled in fidel’s criminal web. blackmail and embezzlement pure and simple. in essence the u.n. is compromised in every event by cuban spies nesting within it who pollute by complicit corruption it’s very foundation.

  5. Read a very cogent response to why the Embargo is wrong and Echerri is mistaken. Letter to the Editor Miami Herald Jan 2, 2007

    Cuba embargo remains wrong approachRe Vicente Echerri’s Dec. 22 Other Views article, U.S. Embargo a coherent response to Castro’s atrocities: Echerri wants his country back. But he is not going to get it back through the failure that is the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba or at the expense of our country’s integrity.

    He is exacerbating his misery by supporting the embargo. The ultimate forum to address Fidel Castro’s atrocities is not U.S. foreign policy, which has done nothing but strengthen the Castro regime and hurt the average Cuban and American. It denies Americans their right to travel freely or to visit and support their families.

    The forum to respond to the Castro regime is in Cuba, with the Cuban people themselves. When Castro dies, the transparency of his legacy will be clear for everyone to judge. If we applied Echerri’s analysis to our own country, why did we support another gross violator of human rights in Latin America, Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, and other right-wing dictators, including Cuba’s Batista? Why do we support and engage in normal relations now with other nations whose records on human rights are atrocious?

    Much of the world has normal relations with Cuba. Yet we ignore what other nations think of our hypocritical conduct and expect them to stand by us or take the views expressed by Echerri seriously. The illegitimacy of the Castro regime has nothing to do with the embargo. It is the simple realization that Castro’s revolution is a failure. It is based on an unsustainable socioeconomic model. A society that provides health and education for all under a police state and centralized economy is doomed.

    Perhaps when Castro dies, Cubans will be able to evolve their society into a true democracy that respects individual rights and the marketplace and that makes the noble goal of healthcare and education for all a true possibility. I look forward to Echerri and all Cubans getting their country back. Our current policies, however, are not the correct way.

    MAURY SILVERMAN, Silver Spring, Md.

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