Roundup: 50 years on, more are calling on Washington to end embargo on Cuba
Updated: 2012-02-03 11:08:00
MEXICO CITY/HAVANA, February 2 (Xinhua) -- As Cuba observed the 50th anniversary of the political and economic embargo imposed by the United States on the country on Thursday, many are openly questioning the effectiveness and legitimacy of washington's obsolete policy of containment.
From top government officials to political analysts and ordinary Cubans, many are wondering how much longer the embargo, imposed on February 3, 1962, will stay in place, as international support for the U.S. policy has all but vanished.
During the past 20 years, at consecutive United Nations General Assembly meetings, an overwhelming majority of the 193 member countries have voted against the embargo.
In the most recent vote last October, Cuba received support for lifting the embargo from 186 countries. Only Israel voted in favor of supporting Washington.
"The embargo...has had a counterproductive effect almost since the day it was imposed," said Ivan Eland, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Independent Institute, in a comment posted on a website for news on Cuba.
The United States formally broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 over ideological differences following the victory of the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro, which resulted in the nationalization of all properties of U.S. companies on the island.
Following the cut of diplomatic relations, Washington then moved to restrict a number of Cuban exports into the U.S. market, dealing a particularly harsh blow to the island's fragile economy.
"It's time, finally, to end the Cuban embargo," said Aaron Lukas, an analyst with the Cato Institute' s Center for Trade Policy Studies, in a recent commentary published at Cato's web page.
Cuba's current leader Raul Castro, since taking power in 2008, has made repeated calls for normalizing relations between Havana and Washington.Last December, he called on the Cuban parliament to take further measures to ease tensions between the two countries, but he said Washington was making this impossible.
"The U.S. government continues to be chained to the past. We know that embargo will continue and that the financial cost of this will increase, but all this will not be able to take away the dream from our revolutionary people," said Castro.
In a recently declassified document dated 1961, it was revealed that Washington's main objective was to cause" hunger, desperation and suffering" to the entire Cuban publication in order to stir the kind of internal stabilization that could put Fidel Castro's revolution in reverse.
"The sanctions that were imposed on Cuba so any years ago were really designed to impoverish people, (but) the reality is that it never works that way," said Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington.
Since U.S. Barack Obama took office, hopes were once running high that the embargo would finally be lifted, but so far progress has been slow and only a number of restrictions have been eased.
Food and medicine now can move more freely to the island. Travel between Cuba and the United States is also easier. Besides, Cubans in the United States are allowed to send remittances back to Cuba.
"History shows that isolation isn't necessarily an effective means of fostering change. The Cuban embargo long ago outlived its usefulness. Cuban's aren't our enemies and most Americans know it. It's time to let go of a policy that only serves to punish the innocent and antagonize our friends," said Lukas, the Cato analyst.