Tag Archive for 'u.s. economic blockade'

Cuba and the US: A Historical Relationship

Sugar cane has played a prominent historical role in US - Cuba relations

Sugar cane has played a prominent historical role in US – Cuba relations photo by Isaac Holeman.


If you’ve read my recent posts on Cuba, some of you might think I’ve been “going easy” on Cuba, that I always give this politically, ideologically charged nation the benefit of the doubt. I do not. I am, however, very intent that social critique be productive. It’s worse than useless to harangue Cuba (or anything) without a specific attention to the underlying structures and trajectories that have shaped its characteristics and will determine whether, when, and how these characteristics change.

Many Cubans are quite close minded politically. Censorship happens. No one is being disappeared like in Guatemala, but the press sucks and ideological advertisements are ubiquitous. I want to write a few posts about this, but it is so important to first examine Cuba’s troubled relationship with the U.S.

The Castro led revolution that began in the 1950’s is the third of Cuba’s revolutions that the US has worked to undermine in order to protects its own economic-ideological interests. The first two times we were successful in exercising ownership over the “unruly” Cuban people. This time has been more complicated.

U.S. [economic] sanctions challenged Cuba precisely on the grounds that the leadership was best prepared to defend: the ideal of nation, free and soverign – a formulation with antecedents early in the nineteenth century and the defense of which the Cuban leadership claimed the historical mandate to uphold. U.S. policy challenged the Cuban revolution at its most credible point and the most defensible position. Sanctions were perceived as one more maneuver to exact Cuban acquiescence to U.S. hegemony, another attempt to remove a government in Cuba dedicated to the defense of patria (homeland & heritage), one more way to punish the people of Cuba for having dared to aspire to national sovereignty…

Sanctions also contributed to reduce space for dialogue and debate inside Cuba. If indeed the survival of the nation was at stake, what mattered most was unanimity of purpose and an unyielding course of action, neither of which admitted easily internal discord and disagreement…

U.S. pressure could not but have acted to impede the process of political change inside Cuba. The Cuban willingness to pursue reforms – and the signals were mixed – could not have easily occurred in an environment in which the central preoccupation of national leadership was framed in terms of national security (remind anyone of executive abuses of civil liberties in the name of the war on terror?). On the other hand, it is possible to contemplate that these developments too were a desired outcome, for the U.S. did not seek a government reformed but a government removed.”

Perhaps the human rights advocate Miriam Leiva put it best “The irony of the situation is this: extremism in Miami (epicenter of the anti- Cuban Socialism lobby) and extremism in the White House ultimately serve to fuel extremism in Havana.” All quotes from Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution, 3rd edition, pages 316, 317, and 329.

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