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How to Respond When Told That Cuba Suffers from an Illegal and Immoral Blockade

Why doesn't the Cuban Government file a complaint with the International Criminal Court, as Venezuela and Iran did, regarding the US embargo?

La Habana
American and Cuban flags on a house in Havana.
American and Cuban flags on a house in Havana. Reuterx

In a few days, the UN General Assembly will issue its annual gesture of support for Castroism, as the overwhelming majority of the body will, again, approve the document that the Cuban Government regularly presents to condemn the "Yankee blockade."

This diplomatic condemnation would lack importance if it were not for the fact that it does bolster the Cuban regime’s claims that the misery on the island (wrought by its economic model, and the suppression of the people's political and economic rights) is due to the fact that it is "under siege."

This posture of victimhood is advantageous to Castroism, even though the arguments that support its propaganda are as facile as the minds at which they are directed, the fundamental theses being: it is a blockade, it is illegal, and it is immoral.

Blocking: etymologically, to block is to prevent the normal functioning of something by placing obstacles impeding it. Thus, any obstacle to trade and emigration could be considered a "blockade", in which case, as all the countries around the world have controls on trade and emigration, it would follow that all are both blockade victims and blockade imposers.

Of course, no one questions the right of a country to regulate its relationship with others. Selective border controls based on the nationality of the people arriving, and tariffs directed against a specific nation, or a given product, are standard practices. It is the sovereign competence of each country to define the extent to which it wishes to interact with others.

Despite this, the Cuban government claims to suffer from a qualitatively different situation, alleging that the United States has it surrounded.

Cuba did suffer a siege, but that was in 1962, when Fidel Castro turned the island into the equivalent of a Soviet nuclear aircraft carrier. A fleet with American and Latin American ships then blockaded it, isolating it from the world by air and sea until achieving the withdrawal of the missiles installed by the Communist power.

Of the more than 22,000 days that Castroism has endured, only those historic 13 days in October featured a blockade/siege - barely 0.057% of its existence. It hardly seems that this infinitesimal period can justify the current country's current ruin.

The reasons for how Washington regulates its relationship with Havana aside, the real question is whether it has the right to maintain a good relationship with the country, or no relationship at all. Castroism itself has severed all relations with various countries on more than one occasion.

In reality, Cuba trades with the whole world, including the United States, without any siege preventing it from doing so. Of course, in each case it must follow the rules imposed by its counterpart, which is only natural. What blockade are they talking about, then?

Illegal: the first thing to understand is that the set of laws that make up "the blockade" does not prohibit Cuba from doing anything. Rather, the laws limit the relationships that US companies and nationals can have with the country. Thus, in any case, it would be up to the Americans to determine the legality of those laws.

The fact that Americans cannot travel to Cuba without a special permit is not a blockade. When Cubans could not travel anywhere in the world without a permit from the Castro government - which still prevents many citizens from travelling - it never occurred to anyone to claim that Cubans were blocked from the world.

The reality is that the huge corporations that have received multimillion-dollar fines for breaking these laws, even with the best law firms at their disposal, have never argued in their defense that they are illegal or unconstitutional. This is, clearly, de facto recognition of their legality.

In any case, if Cuba really believes that these laws unfairly affect it, why doesn't it file a complaint directly against the US Government? It could appeal to a local court using one of the many agents it has living within the monster. It could also go to the International Criminal Court, as Venezuela and Iran recently did. Why does Cuba only turn to the UN General Assembly, where the legality of these laws is not discussed at all? Does Cuba fear that a real legal verdict would take the wind out of the sails of its media circus and spurious justifications?

Immoral: the argument must not be ruled out, a priori. There may be something immoral about the American legislation, which seeks to affect an enemy government by having a direct impact on the country's population. It is particularly problematic when the enemy government is a dictatorship, such that the population - at least the vast majority - is a victim, and not an accomplice of it.

But Washington faces a dilemma: refuse to collaborate with a dictatorship to accelerate its fall, even if the people suffer as a result, thus seeking the long-term good; or think in the short term and, to alleviate the people's current situation just a little, collaborate with that dictatorship and, thus, probably, perpetuate it in power.

Both options can be morally condemned, but they can also be morally justified. But, what justification does Castroism have for being a dictatorship?

What is inadmissible is that the party that is directly responsible for the appalling situation of the Cuban people accuses on that, in any case, might be indirectly responsible.

But, for the sake of argument, let's place ourselves in Castroism’s shoes and accept that "the blockade" is a form of political blackmail that seeks to break Cuba's will.

It is obvious that "Cuba" does not have will; only the people have will. Those who govern each country are those who have will; in the Cuban case, as it is Castroism that governs, the blackmail is not against Cuba, but rather against Castroism.

And it is not a blackmail of the type that says "do what I tell you or I will torture you" (as those who rule Cuba do not suffer, even minimally, the ravages of the "blockade"), but rather "do what I tell you or I will torture your children."

To what extent does responsibility lie, then, with the blackmailer, and to what does it lie with the  intransigent "father?" At what point did Castroism's saving face become more important than Cubans' well-being?

By its own logic, Castroism has decided to allow the Americans to torture the Cuban people, for 62 years.

The final conclusion is simple: there is no blockade. Cuba trades with whoever it wants to, just like any other country around the world.

Indeed, there is a set of laws in the US, a sovereign country, tending to regulate its relationship with another country, but these laws do not attack Cuba. Rather, they only prevent it from benefiting from US assets, which is something completely different. And the legality of these laws has never even been questioned, even by Castroism.

The morality of a relationship between a democracy and a dictatorship is always questionable, being based exclusively on mutual interest. The United States decided that it can live without Cuba, and it is not its fault that, after 62 years of Castroist nationalism, the island today needs the United States more than ever.

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