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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, March 03, 2024

Trade embargo a relic of Cold War

The transformation of New Orleans from burgeoning cultural center of the South to shallow house-filled lake has dominated headlines for the past two weeks. Aid has poured in from across the globe, and relief efforts are finally making serious progress. 




The international aid refused by the U.S. government is more noteworthy than the aid that was accepted. Although the media largely ignored the story, it is now known that Cuba offered to send 1,600 medical doctors to New Orleans immediately after the levees broke.  




The Cuban doctors were assembled and ready to deploy faster than even Wisconsin's National Guard. The U.S. government flatly refused this assistance. The refusal of Cuba's offer illuminates not only the disgusting indifference of Washington to human suffering, but its almost inconceivably childish attitude toward Cuba. 




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If Cuba's offer had been refused because New Orleans already had 1,600 doctors on the ground saving lives, then perhaps such biting words would not be warranted. However, New Orleans was critically understaffed medically, and not even food, let alone doctors, had reached many stranded residents four days after the hurricane, which was two days after the Cuban doctors could have arrived. 




It is clear Cuba's doctors were denied because of Washington's absurd bipartisan refusal to acknowledge that because the Cold War is over, Cuba is no longer an enemy of the United States in even the most extreme case.  




The small Caribbean nation, which lies only 90 miles off the south coast of Florida, is home to 11 million people, and is slightly smaller in area than the state of Pennsylvania. Its annual GDP is $33 billion. By comparison, the U.S. is home to 295 million people, and has a GDP of $11 trillion.  




Judging strictly by the numbers, Cuba is pitifully small and not in the least bit threatening to the hegemonic power of the U.S. Today, Cuba can no longer threaten the U.S. militarily, and could only do so during the Cold War with Russian help. 




The complete lack of threat from Cuba applies in the political and ideological realms as well. Communism and free-market multi-party Democracy are no longer competing philosophies. The latter is acknowledged as the dominant political philosophy of the world. The U.S. has nothing to fear from Cuba's communist political and economic stance. 




What is perhaps more important than the realization that Cuba is not a threat to the U.S. is the fact that it wants, and desperately needs, normalized economic and cultural relations with the U.S. 




Cuba has things to offer which Americans want. We would enjoy the unbelievably gorgeous miles of untouched Caribbean beaches, a historical gem for study and pleasure in Havana, and the high quality sugar, tobacco and fruit produced.  




The U.S., on the other hand, has huge supplies of modern agricultural and industrial products Cuba needs, including wheat, petroleum products, steel, dairy products and technology.  




Both nations have decades of cultural exchange pent up, waiting to be released. Students in the U.S. need to study in Cuba, and vice versa. Cubans want U.S. bands to play Cuban shows, and Cuban musicians want to make their fortunes in the U.S. music market.  




Despite the recent crushing need for medical help in New Orleans and the decades-old economic and cultural justifications for normalizing relations with Cuba, the U.S. government ignores the chorus of reason, turns its back, jams its fingers into its ears, and shouts, \I can't hear you,"" like an overgrown playground bully.  




Perhaps Washington is still smarting over the malfunctioning of the exploding cigar that the CIA wanted to slip Castro, or perhaps they are too proud to admit that Cuba is not so demonic after all. Either way, our leaders would do well to remember that it was perestroika (openness) that undermined Russian communism, not trade embargos. 




Whatever prevents the federal government from finally entering the 21st century and lifting the embargo on Cuba, it was tolerable until it cost American lives. This September 12th, 45 corpses were found in a New Orleans hospital-evidently they belonged to patients who had died awaiting medical attention. 




The Cuban doctors may not have been able to save all those people, but they could have helped. The fact the U.S. refused their help should be the rallying point for a new push to lift the laughably outdated Cold War relic that is the Cuban trade embargo.  








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