Cuba promotes peace, not terrorism

Morning Star | Friday, 30 June 2023 | Click here for original article

Colombian President Gustavo Petro (left) shaking hands with ELN commander Antonio Garcia (right) with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel after signing ceasefire agreement in Havana

Colombian President Gustavo Petro (left) shaking hands with ELN commander Antonio Garcia (right) with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel after signing ceasefire agreement in Havana

"Human solidarity cannot be blockaded; it remains an indestructible weapon of struggle and combat,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel noted at the International Meeting in Solidarity with Cuba and Anti-Imperialism in Havana, that I was lucky enough to attend as a trade union delegate on a solidarity brigade.

International solidarity between Cuba and the British trade union movement is more important than ever. I saw with my own eyes how the Cuban people are suffering under the US blockade.

Cuba is facing immense hardships due to the 62-year blockade on the country which was tightened under Donald Trump, the effects of Covid, and now Cuba’s inclusion in the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT) list alongside North Korea, Venezuela, Iran and Syria.

Cuba is a peaceful country — as Fidel famously said, Cuba does not drop bombs on other countries but sends doctors. So, why then, when Cuba is not a threat to any country worldwide, is the Joe Biden administration keeping Cuba on the SSOT list?

After the triumph of the revolution in 1959, the US waged economic warfare against Cuba. The SSOT list is another way to isolate and justify the blockade in Cuba.

In addition to the hundreds of additional sanctions Trump’s government added to asphyxiate the Cuban economy, Trump re-added Cuba to the SSOT list on January 12 2021 by citing that Cuba “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism by harbouring US fugitives as well as Colombian rebel leaders.”

Biden has very recently reaffirmed this position. The inclusion of Cuba on this list is another way to justify the US’s aggressive policy towards Cuba but also to further isolate the island.

What is the impact of this list on Cuba?

The UN stated that since it began, the US blockade against Cuba has caused more than $144 billion in losses for the island’s economy. In addition to the blockade, due to the inclusion of Cuba on the SSOT list, its international trade is hugely restricted, it is unable to get loans from the world banks, US foreign assistance and exports of dual-use items.

Despite the US being the only country in the world to maintain the SSOT list, the hegemonic global financial system stops Cuba from having normal trade relations with other countries.

The US has sued foreign banks for hundreds of millions of dollars for violating its sanctions on Cuba and many international banks will not process payments from Cuba for fear of huge fines from the US.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States stressed in its final declaration condemning the US blockade against Cuba and rejecting Cuba’s inclusion on the SSOT list, that Cuba’s inclusion on this list has caused the worst economic crisis and fuel shortage in the country in decades.

The hypocrisy of the US

Two years later, Trump’s justification is even more ironic given the recent news of Cuba again playing a major role in the pursuit of peace. A ceasefire agreement between the President of Colombia Gustavo Petro and the commander of ELN rebel group Antonio Garcia was signed in Havana, facilitated by President Diaz-Canel.

For most of the world, Cuba is seen to be leading the way in diplomacy and peace. Following the ceasefire agreement with the ELN, former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos called on Biden to remove Cuba from the list, saying: “Cuba should be applauded for the crucial role it played in helping end decades of conflict and facilitate reconciliation in Colombia and should not face sanctions for having done so.”

The entire premise of the SSOT list is used to justify waging war against anyone deemed an enemy of the US. How can the US justify putting Cuba on such a list when US imperialism has caused death and destruction worldwide? How can it keep a straight face when the US has been responsible for supporting terrorism worldwide — including terrorism directed towards Cuba?

US wars have killed millions of people and displaced many more. The term “terrorism” is never directed at the US government; in the era of US hegemony they are presented as waging wars only in defence of “democracy and freedom.”

How can the term terrorist apply to a small peaceful island, which does not wage wars abroad and the only threat Cuba poses to the US is the threat of a good example?

At its recent annual general meeting the Cuba Solidarity Campaign passed a motion condemning the inclusion of Cuba on the SSOT list and committed to campaigning against this in Britain.

We need to be stepping up our solidarity work within our trade unions to provide material solidarity to Cuba and put political pressure on our government and the US to lift the blockade and remove Cuba from the SSOT list. The revolution in Cuba will continue — with our solidarity.

Micaela Tracey-Ramos is chair of Merseyside Cuba Solidarity Campaign — she writes here in a personal capacity.

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