By PAT WATSON
Cuba, and the “maximum leader of the Cuban Revolution”, Fidel Castro, can celebrate the end of its 47-year long exclusion from the Organization of American States (OAS) with the unconditional suspension of Resolution 6 recently.
The movement toward the repeal was no doubt in play during the Fifth Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad in the middle of April, when the issue of Cuba’s absence was again on the table. It was not the first time that the issue had come up, it also surfaced at previous Americas summits.
Cuba’s size and geographic location, sitting as it does in the middle of the Caribbean region, has long made it a nation that cannot be ignored. The fact that it is a Spanish-speaking nation surrounded by similar nations and cultures has meant that it could not, nor would not, be isolated even by the best efforts to do so by the giant sitting some 150 kilometres to the north, with which it has had a long and varied relationship.
The fact that Cuba also shares the same colonial past as non-Spanish speaking countries in the region – of imported, mainly African slave-labour and plantation economies – has also meant a continued shared affinity with those nations as well.
The United States had a strong hand in the affairs of its neighbours for much of the past century, including effecting the ongoing economic (now) 48-year embargo on Cuba – a sanction bolstered by many who fled Cuba during and immediately after the 1959 revolution.
El bloqueo was actually strengthened during the 1990s, largely during the eight-year period of the Bill Clinton administration, an indication that American leaders had somehow not understood that intransigence was not the best diplomatic strategy.
The world today is relatively smaller in terms of how quickly people and military weaponry can move from one end of the planet to the other, so any steps to ameliorate hostilities between jurisdictions are a matter of global human survival.
Russian-Cuban relations which have, for a long time, included strong military support from Russia, could put the entire Caribbean region in the same bullet-holed boat should matters fire in the wrong direction. For that reason alone, the move by the OAS is a positive one.
For another, the best way to bring Cuba into the fold and coerce its leadership into embracing democracy is by bringing an end to long drawn out sanctions. The same view has to apply to other countries that have been struggling as a result of U.S.-backed sanctions.
The recognition last week of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, was about remembering the beginning of the end of the Second World War, which by its end was not so much about stopping the German initiative to conquer Europe (the Germans were near defeat by then), but about stopping Communist domination. When the war ended, the Communists had enough presence to have their say in carving up Europe (remember the Berlin Wall?). But it was also at that time that the so-called Cold War began.
The legacy of the Cold War includes the chill between Cuba and the U.S. along with its allies. Other legacies were the Vietnam War and the separation of the Korean peninsula into North and South Korea. As a result of the same tactics of Western alliance-led sanctions, North Korea is today an extremely impoverished pariah nation whose leadership seeks to manipulate powerful nations by playing at deadly nuclear arms advancement.
Sanctions have similarly left Cuba, formerly one of the most developed countries of the early to mid-20th Century, falling behind, though nowhere near as isolated as North Korea; again, its geography being what it is.
Ironically, the move by the OAS may again have something to do with current U.S. influence. For, could one imagine such a move on George W. Bush’s watch? With the renewed hope that much of the world has embraced since Americans chose Barack Obama to head their government, it remains to be seen what other positive policy changes similar alliances will enact. One can only hope, since too much stick and not enough carrot means the donkey won’t move forward.
On a poignant note…
The two drug addicts sitting with their caps in front of them waiting for spare change, were floating on whatever they medicated themselves with while having a serious and focused conversation about how to save the world. Sadly though, no mention of how to save themselves.