Opinion: U.S. needs to end blockade against Cuba, says Madrid resident
Friday, November 24, 2017 - 6:56 am

To the Editor:

For the past 26 years, Cuba has annually presented the same resolution to the United Nations: a formal condemnation of the U.S. blockade against Cuba that has been in place since the early 1960’s. As in past years, the resolution passed with an overwhelming majority. In fact, the only “nay” votes came from the United States and Israel.

We likely will not see an end to the blockade as a result; the resolution is non-binding and the United States has refused to follow suit in each of the past 26 years.

To end the blockade requires the passage of a bill by the U.S. Congress. Do members of Congress refuse to pass a bill at the behest of their constituents, to whom they are ostensibly bound to represent? No. Polls have consistently shown for years that the majority of Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba. Last year a CBS News/New York Times poll shows 58% opposition to the blockade among Americans, while a Pew Research poll showed 73% of Cuban-Americans oppose the blockade. One wonders, then, at the motivation for continuing the blockade. Does our legislature not represent us?

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s main trading partner, the blockade became especially trying for the Cuban people. The nation entered an economic depression.

During this time the nation had to dramatically restructure its economy in a bid to regain its previous standard of living. Seeing an opportunity to tighten the screws on Cuba, the United States passed the Helms-Burton Act, an enhancement of the blockade. The act’s provisions displayed a stunning lack of concern for the sovereignty of other nations, strong-arming them into participating in the blockade, and was condemned even among American allies.

To date the blockade has cost the Cuban economy over 1 trillion dollars. Yet today the Cuban people persist, boasting an outstanding healthcare sector and public health; guaranteed family planning services; an average lifespan that equals, sometimes exceeds, that of the US; nearly universal literacy; no homelessness; equal government representation of men and women; and swift, continuing progress on LGBTQ rights.

The US ought to end the blockade, normalize relations with Cuba, and perhaps start learning from its people.

Corey McGrath

Madrid