Cuban embargo is a big no-no

Shaun Hayes and Shaun Hayes

Last week the American government announced a tightening of the embargo the United States has held against the country of Cuba since Fidel Castro, currently President of Cuba, rose to power in 1959.

The new rules allow Cuban-Americans to visit their immediate family in Cuba once every three years, as opposed to once every year now, and limit the length of their stays to a maximum of 14 days.

The new rules also make it illegal for travelers to bring back any Cuban merchandise (even cigars!) or receive any services from the Cuban government. That’s right, if you go to Cuba and receive any mail while there, you’re going to jail. The amount of money travelers can take has also been further restricted, as have the amount of money that can be spent in a single day and the weight of luggage travelers can take with them.

Perhaps most ominously, visas for artists and students traveling to Cuba have been severely curtailed as well. There are no exceptions for humanitarian cases, such as a relative dying or becoming seriously ill. Violators of these new restrictions can face fines of up to $7,500, even if it’s their first offense.

The irony of these new rules has to be noted: one country is curtailing the rights of its people and threatening all who violate cruel restrictions in order to punish another country for so-called abused human rights. It would make me laugh if it wa not so sickening.

It would make me grin if it didn’t hurt so much, like whacking your funny bone. It is sort of funny, yeah, but it hurts like hell at the same time.

There can be no mistake that the American embargo of Cuba is an unnecessary, ineffective, cruel, inhumane, illegal and completely hypocritical act that has been perpetuated for almost 50 years by the American government.

Cuba poses no threat to America. The embargo does nothing more than the opposite of what the American government wants it to accomplish. It has been ineffective from the very beginning and flies in the face of many other foreign policy and world aid decisions that America has made and continues to make today.

America has an embargo against Cuba, and yet China has “most favored nation” trading status. For those of you who don’t know, China is a communist country, like Cuba, and it has a far worse human rights record. Fidel Castro has never had a Tiananmen Square incident such as the one in China in 1989 in which thousands of pro-democracy supporters were slaughtered by the Chinese military.

All Fidel Castro has done was invite the Pope and let Jimmy Carter speak on TV to everyone. The horror!

The two nations that receive the most foreign aid from America — Colombia and Egypt — have two of the worst human rights records in the world. Yet we send them billions of dollars in support each year. How noble.

The only atrocities that have been committed against the Cuban people in the last 50 years have been perpetuated by America. Shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy approved Operation Mongoose, a terrorist attack on Cuba that killed Cubans and destroyed property.

In addition to being hypocritical, the embargo is also against international law and was voted against, 179 to 3, in the UN General Assembly last year. It was the most lopsided vote ever. Only Israel and the Marshall Islands, a true political powerhouse, voted in favor with the United States.

But of course, we all know what our president thinks of international law and the UN, so I’m sure he’s not losing any sleep over it.

The embargo is not working: Castro has never had serious threat to his power, unless you count the CIA trying to kill him about a hundred times. Cuba has a quality of life and infant mortality way above other Latin countries, and even exports doctors around the world to help fight diseases.

And sanctions have never worked: not in North Korea, not in Communist China (before they became our friends) and not in Iraq. They only make the leaders more powerful as people rely on them for the few goods still around.

With this being an election year and Cuban-American descendants who sailed to Florida rather than stay in Cuba to fight mean old Fidel, raising money and campaigning for President Bush, it really makes one wonder why the President is so tough on Cuba.

Surely he wouldn’t let his efforts to get re-elected overshadow American foreign policy? Why, if he would do that, then maybe he would start a war to do the same, or … whoops. Guess that already happened.

My bad.

So, if it’s not the case that Cuba is a threat to America and not a human rights violator in the scope of, say, China and Israel, then what’s with the embargo?

I think I know.

Baseball players. Yes, you heard it here first. If there were no sanctions on Cuba then all of those talented baseball players that mysteriously manage to make it into America wouldn’t defect and play baseball for American teams. And what team has benefited most from this act?

The Yankees.

As they say, you do the math.

E-mail Shaun with comments at [email protected].