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World tells self-appointed 'good guys'

'End criminal embargo of Cuba'

By Deirdre Griswold

The self-proclaimed "good guys" of the world, with all their military and economic powers of persuasion, once again lost the vote in the UN General Assembly on the embargo of Cuba. Lost big time. Bigger than ever.

This year 173 nations voted that the U.S. should end its punishing economic sanctions against Cuba. Washington could round up only two votes besides its own--Israel and the Marshall Islands. There were only four abstentions. The vote on Nov. 12 was the biggest repudiation of Washington's policy yet and the 11th straight year in which a majority of the General Assembly has voted against the embargo.

With the passage of the Helms-Burton law in 1995, U.S. sanctions on Cuba were extended to third countries that did business with the socialist island. This has been widely denounced in the world as an arrogant attempt to extend U.S. law beyond its bordersharkening back to the days of colonial "extraterritoriality."

The embargo was imposed shortly after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, which not only toppled the U.S.-supported dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista but also took back control of the country's resources from U.S. companies that had milked great profits from its sugar, tobacco and nickel industries and from tourism based on its lovely climate, dazzling beaches and rich culture.

For over 40 years, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have followed the dictates of big business and continued a hostile policy toward Cuba, trying in vain to destroy its socialist system. Despite the blockade, acts of terrorism and military threats, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, the revolution has not only survived but has provided Cubans with the best medical care in all Latin America and guaranteed jobs and education.

In recent years, many U.S. businesses, looking for new markets and unconvinced that the socialist government of Fidel Castro will "fall any day now," have been exploring trade possibilities despite Helms-Burton and other sanctions laws. Pharmaceuticals and agribusinesses have been among the exhibitors at trade fairs in Havana. Two years ago, Congress reflected the pressure of the agriculture lobby when it allowed the sale of food to Cuba. Cuba started buying U.S. food this year. Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly, said in a speech before the UN vote that Cuba's purchases of foodstuffs from the U.S. could reach $200 million this year.

Despite every effort by the U.S. to kill it, Cuban socialism is not a "failed system." It is the U.S., not Cuba, that is out of step with the sentiments of the world's people, as the UN vote showed.

Reprinted from the Nov. 28, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper
This article is copyrighted under a Creative Commons License.
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