The old tricks of greed
By Luis Sexto
I call on sensibleness. On balance. The Cuban reality shall not be judged without the external component. The dependence on the external situations has been a contumacious sword in the history of Cuba. It would be worth investigating how many projects, how many improvement intentions have failed because of the pressure of foreign circumstances at different moments of the national history, during the chains of colonialism and in the waste pulp republic.
We could not either deny – if we make a balanced and sensible analysis – that the work of the revolution was determined, efficiently and quantitatively, by the blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba almost since the very beginning of 1959. Even the mistakes made by revolutionaries – real and influential ones, we must admit – are somehow the result of the constant hostility from the North and the cautiousness imposed by the real and sometimes imminent risk of seeing how the blood and passion of several generations could dissolve and fail in some of the traps schemed by the enemies of our independence and our ideals of social justice.
Who could deny that? The Revolution was born defending itself. The United States of America and its national and foreign allies did not want it. They still do not want it. Since the very beginning, they had the suspicious presentiment that what had been gestated at Moncada Headquarters, and later on conquered in the mountains by workers and dispossessed farmers, had burst into the country’s history as the reincarnation of the unfinished project of the cordial, just and decorous republic of José Martí. The eagles of greed soon realized that the change of men in January of 1959 was also a change of essence and classes. And then the dirty war began. And the economic blockade was part of it.
It is true, when one thinks sensibly as well, that in several periods of the last 44 years some people thought of blockade as the joke of the old naughty shepherd who used to scare his pasture colleagues with the false warning of ¨here comes the wolf¨. Or maybe it got old, wearing the sheets of a ghost. It was barely visible. The commercial relations with the former socialist block eased the material shortages originated as a result of the North American prohibitions. But, by forcing the technological reconversion, closing the credit windows, and banning the bilateral trade between Cuba and its nearest market, the blockade facilitated the fastening of a new dependence.
The blockade has been an aged-origin recipe in the foreign policy of the United States of America. They have used it more than once, at least against us, as the most convenient formula to their interest. While reading an old book – Oh, old books teach us so many things – I learned that 85 years ago the United States of America tried to impose a price in the 1918 sugar crop which was to be conciliated with the calculations of Wall Street. And in the light of some sort of speculative denial by the Cuban landowners, Washington chose the blockade – embargo, they used to call it in order to soften the term, just as they do today – of the foodstuffs that Havana had purchased from US companies. It was a way to persuade the Island that, among other dependences, it depended on the US market for its foodstuffs. The episode ended with the victory of Mister Wilson, the president, and Mister González, the ambassador, even though the last name sounded like latinity of popular ancestry. Liberals and conservatives, generals and doctors, aristocrats and foremen were persuaded. And the sugar trunks of the United States of America filled with another 600 million dollars at the expense of ¨our colony of Cuba¨, as Harold H. Jenks used to say in a book whose title, shamelessly and possessively, described a very possessive and shameless situation.
Being a concept as old as war, the blockade and its synonyms of siege and enclosure imply the strategy of defeating the enemy through isolation, starvation, and thirst. In domestic fights, between neighbours, one would hear about denying salt and water to the other as an irresistible means to offend him and overpower him. The world’s chronicles tell us about the siege of Troy, Jerusalem, Numantia, Leningrad…And they will mention the blockade on Cuba, perhaps remembering it as the longest of all, and they will underline that it is different to all the others because it does not siege a fortress or a city with warlike devices. Instead, it uses extraterritorial laws, circulars, warnings, threats…And it is exercised in times of peace against an entire country, without discriminating between victims or targets, using the economic, financial and commercial goods as evils.
In view of this event, turned into a process of aggression, Suárez, Vitoria, Vives – founders of International Law – would write, in awe, new texts that maybe the powerful ones – the United States of America and its allies – could not read, even though the majority in the UN´s General Assembly has for 15 years recommend that they do so.