19 Apr 2009
Leaders of the Summit of Americas echo the opinion of the majority of the world
Prior to his departure to attend the heads of states’ summit of the Americas this weekend in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, President Barack Obama took the decision to ease some restrictions on dealings between America and Cuba. He ordered the lifting of restraints on travel and money transfer by Cuban-Americans to Cuba. Though modest in context, the measures certainly helped to tone down the Anti-US rhetoric that was expected from left -leaning leaders of Latin America during the summit.
Cuba, nevertheless dominated discussions at the OAS summit. The case for lifting the decades old American embargo was echoed by most leaders but in a friendlier than expected manner in respect to Barack Obama’s humility and openness.
Obama has found himself in an awkward situation in which millions of his supporters around the world like me are equally ardent supporters of Cuba’s right to be free from the US imposed economic embargo. Today’s reality is that the recycled reasons the US advances for maintaining that obnoxious embargo do not more hold water. The majority of the World views the issue as a travesty of justice.
The US has always been seen to be behaving completely out of tune with the thinking of majority of people on earth by insisting on maintaining an asphyxiating and unjust economic embargo on the struggling people of Cuba. Some of the provisions of the law enforcing that embargo are so ridiculous you will not imagine that they originate from a country in today’s world.
That law has been used to intimidate nations, companies and even individuals from having dealings with Cuba. I remember when an editor of an international news outlet that usually publishes my articles refused to publish this article (link below) I wrote two years ago criticizing the American Embargo on Cuba. http://www.njeitimah-outlook.com/articles/article/2076046/70181.htm
I was not given any reason why my article was turned down but I could easily deduce that the fear of Uncle Sam must have played a role. Due to the pervasive nature of the Cuban Embargo law and its potential to harass those visiting Cuba, the Cuban authorities adopted a policy of not stamping the passports of people visiting that country in order to protect them from possible harassment by the US authorities! It was common for people who have visited Cuba to remain discrete about their trip especially if they had future plans of visiting the US.
It is generally believed that with the recent changes in Washington, the time is ripe to do away with this unjust embargo that is opposed by all nations on earth with the notable exceptions being Israel and the U.S.
The United States must admit that in the battle of ideas, Cuba has emerged victorious. I had the privilege of visiting Cuba and discussing with ordinary people. This is a country that caters for her citizens but has been constantly vilified and blackmailed by successive U.S administrations. Yes, there are material shortages in Cuba (mostly linked to the embargo), but Cubans are highly educated, enjoy free medical care, have an enviable lifespan and are patriotic. These people deserve better treatment from their giant neighbor to the north. As Barack Obama said during the Summit of Americas, “I didn’t come here to debate the past…I came here to deal with the future”.
The future certainly has no room for this embargo which is an ugly relic of the distant past.
Seven Days in Cuba
Njei Moses Timah