The Auckland Cuba Friendship Society applauds the recent UN vote against the U.S. blockade of Cuba where, for the first time, the U.S. and Israel abstained. The final vote against lifting the crippling 56-year blockade – the longest in world history – was 191 to 0, with two abstentions.
Malcolm McAllister, spokesperson for the Society, said that, despite improved diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S since 2014 and some slight loosening of travel restrictions, the network of laws and regulations that make up the blockade remains. For example, in September, Obama renewed one of the pillars of the legislation, the Trading with the Enemy Act.
The embargo cost Cuba US$ 4.6 billion over the last year and has a stifling effect on trade, banking and commerce and many other areas, like health. For instance Cuban doctors wanting to treat cancer or Parkinson’s patients are banned from buying U.S. medical gear. Cuban banks can’t operate in the U.S. and Cuban goods can’t be shipped there. Banks, from other countries, that do business in Cuba can be, and are, fined. New Zealand’s largest bank, the ANZ, has a policy of complying with the U.S. sanctions against Cuba to avoid being fined.
Seventy percent of Americans favour lifting the embargo and the President and top officials have declared it obsolete.However, the embargo, the occupation by the U.S. of the Cuban territory of Guantanamo and the deep hostility of the U.S government towards Cuba remain.
The U.S. is still intent on destroying the Cuban revolution by other subversive means, citing Cuba’s lack of ‘freedom’, said Malcolm McAllister. But as Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said at the UN, “They should understand that we are already free, precisely because in 1959 we rid ourselves of US imperialism and the dictatorship it imposed on us…we will never go back to capitalism.”