By Lee Camp / Behind The Headlines
The entire world just voted to end the 60-year blockade against Cuba…except for two countries. Can you guess which ones? (Luxembourg was neither of them.)
I take you back to September 1961. The U.S. was a younger, naive nation. We drove around with children in our laps because the seatbelt law was still years away. And the top song of the day was Barry Mann’s “Who put the bomp into bomp bah bomp bah bomp?” (Turns out it was Henry Kissinger. He was a childlike 73 years old back then, and he was actually into “bomping” before he was into bombing.)
In 1961 the United States began a massive embargo against the island country of Cuba. This was just a few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion, in which the U.S. tried to retake Cuba from the communist revolutionaries who had wrested it away from the American-backed capitalist oligarchs. President Kennedy was told by the Joint Chiefs and the CIA that sending a small group of poorly armed men into Cuba would bring down the entire country, no problem.
But it became clear that the pathetic Bay of Pigs plan was actually cooked up by our military intelligence community to force JFK to invade Cuba once the invaders were captured.
However, JFK didn’t take the bait, refused to invade, and afterwards famously said he wanted to, “splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds.” And we saw how that ended for him. Which is why I, on the other hand, am a huge fan of the CIA. I have their posters, their action figures, all their greatest hits (Salvador Allende, Patrice Lumumba, Olof Palme, Sonny Bono).
Anyway, the economic war went into effect in Cuba in the 1960s and at the same time, our CIA was trying to kill the leader of that country – Fidel Castro. In fact, he survived 638 assassination attempts, including poisoned scuba suits and exploding cigars. The CIA was watching way too much Wile E. Coyote. (Thank god they weren’t watching Pepe Le Pew, or they would’ve been sexually assaulting Castro. Although maybe then they would’ve successfully whacked him off.)
Point being, how do you think we, the United States, would’ve responded if another country tried to murder our president over 600 times? I think we all know the U.S. government would’ve made drug cartel hit jobs look like a meditation retreat where they sing songs and only eat sunshine. Yet Cuba has kept their cool. Their people have gone about their lives and created a successful country. And still, to this day, the U.S. empire continues eagerly attempting to crush them.
JFK is gone, the Soviet Union is gone, Fidel Castro is gone – the CIA took him out a few years ago with natural causes – and yet, the battle against Cuba continues. Just this month, there was another vote at the United Nations about ending the economic war. And the entire world voted 185 to 2 against the blockade of Cuba – the US and Israel were the only two bitter, irrational, belligerent countries voting against ending it. (Bolsonaro’s Brazil and Zelensky’s Ukraine abstained from the vote.)
This begs the question, what is the point of the embargo on Cuba? What are we hoping to achieve? To punish a dead Fidel Castro for his sins? Maybe to punish a dead Che Guevara for his sins? Perhaps punish Cuban cigar makers for being so damned good? (I had an American cigar last week – tasted like sucking the tailpipe of a burned-out Chevy Impala filled with dead squirrels.)
Actually, the U.S. government once admitted what our real goals are. As covered in Multipolarista, an internal memo from the State Department in 1960 said the Cuba embargo was meant “…to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow the government.” So our stated goal was to bring about hunger and desperation in the innocent Cuban people. And in fact, that is still the U.S. government’s intended goal with economic sanctions around the world. Just a few years ago, then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted it onstage at an event when talking about our sanctions on North Korea. He said, “They have had over 100 North Korean fishing boats that have drifted into Japanese waters. Two-thirds of the people on those boats have died. …They’re being sent out in the winter time to fish because there’s food shortages. And they’re being sent out to fish with inadequate fuel to get back. So we’re getting a lot of evidence that these sanctions are really starting to hurt.”
He proudly said we’re winning against North Korea because the U.S. is starving poor fishermen to death. What kind of a psychopath would say such a – you know what, don’t answer that.
So who does our economic war on Cuba impact the most? The International Labor Organization told the U.N., “The direct and indirect effects of the embargo on the Cuban economy and people affect not only the enterprises, but even more their workers and the population in general. The International Labor Organization is particularly concerned about the impacts on children, workers and the elderly.”
Children and the elderly – you know, the people I view as the real enemies. Those damn Cuban three year-olds. (If I had a nickel for every time one of them attacked me in a car park, or hurled dirty, filthy lies at my grandma, I’d be a rich man.)
So while the U.S. is busy shipping death, disease, and starvation around the world – some in Afghanistan, some in Venezuela, some in North Korea – Cuba has been busy exporting their OWN horrible products around the world, like… doctors.
Yes, as reported by Aljazeera, “Cuba has a history of sending medical teams to nations in crisis. …According to the Pan American Health Organization, between 2005 and 2017, the unit helped 3.5 million people in 21 countries affected by disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and epidemics, including the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. … Over the past 50 years, it is estimated that between 135,000 and 400,000 Cuban doctors have been sent abroad.”
So while the U.S. empire’s biggest exports are oil (which is killing our future) and weapons (which are killing our present), Cuba’s biggest export is free medical care. Hm, who do you think is on the right side of this? The people giving out drone bombs and starvation, or the people givin’ out monoclonal antibodies used to treat Ebola?
Keep in mind the number of sanctions against Jeffrey Epstein’s island when he was alive? Zero. Number of U.S. sanctions against Saudi Arabia after they committed a genocide in Yemen and murdered a Washington Post journalist? Zero. But we are still trying to crush Cuba after 60 years.
The truth is the real reason the U.S. despises Cuba is because of what Noam Chomsky called “the threat of the good example.” They are a socialist country that, despite our economic assault for six decades, has done quite well. According to the World Bank and others, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the world – at 100%. Comparatively, the U.S. rate is 79%.
Cuba has one doctor for every 150 patients, which is the best ratio of any developed country. By comparison, for every 1000 patients in the U.K., there are 2.8 doctors. As the LA Times reported, “…the Cuban people receive free healthcare, education, housing and pensions — along with employment security. Cuba has virtually no drug trafficking, homelessness, illiteracy or malnutrition.”
This is not to say that everything in Cuba is perfect; it’s not. But the good aspects are scary to the American capitalist ruling class. For those of you who are American, imagine living a life where you never for one minute fear you’ll end up homeless or unable to pay for healthcare or drowning in student loan debt or sitting next to Andrea Mitchell on a long flight. Such a utopia is tough to even dream about. (Delta puts Andrea Mitchell next to you if you don’t pay for the upgrade.)
Plus, Cubans have a lower infant mortality rate and longer life expectancy than Americans. All of these are the real reasons that Washington has kept its boot on Cuba’s throat for 60 years.
A UN commission reported, “…the numerous United States sanctions constitute the most severe and prolonged system of unilateral coercive measures ever applied against any country…”