Cuban minister talks U.S. blockade and its consequences on Afro Cubans

Cuban minister talks U.S. blockade and its consequences on Afro Cubans

Cuban minister talks U.S. blockade and its consequences on Afro Cubans

Last November, 187 members of the United Nations’ General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution to end the United States’ economic blockade of Cuba. This is the same resolution U.N. members have been voting in favor of since 1992: it’s a call for the United States to end the 62-year-old trade embargo that makes it illegal for U.S. companies to do business with Cuba.

Carlos Fernández de Cossío, Cuba’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, told the Amsterdam News that the unending blockade has hurt all Cubans, especially Afro Cubans.

Statistically, more white Cubans have migrated from Cuba since the establishment in 1959 of Fidel Castro’s revolution. Black or mixed-race Cubans have tended to have less resources and have not always had the ability to migrate––even if they wanted to. Today’s Cuban society is dominated by more people of color than it was in the past. “Whites have relatives in the United States; whites are more convinced that they’ll make out better in the United States than in Cuba,” Fernández said. “Blacks are more distrustful that it will be better for them in the United States. They see movies about racism and police abuse and shootings and all that. Some are more concerned with what can happen to them in the United States. They don’t suffer that in Cuba.”

In the following interview, Fernández de Cossío spoke about how Cuba is faring now. (This interview has been edited for clarity):

Fernández de Cossío: The embargo––we call it an economic blockade because it’s a bit more than an embargo––its aim is two things: making the Cuban economy collapse and, in addition to that, to deprive the government from its capacity to ensure social justice in Cuba. That’s the role the government has played in the past 60 plus years. That role is the one that ensures a more equitable standard of living for the whole population, regardless of your wealth, your income. And the [United States is] open about it, they want to drain the government from its resources: …subsidized food, subsidized education, subsidized electricity, subsidized transportation. And if you look at Cuban society, the people of darker skin have more to suffer than the people of lighter skin. Because today Cuba is much more equitable than it was 64 years ago. People of darker skin do not have such a subordinate condition in society as they had in the past. But still we have not achieved total equity in that. And because we haven’t achieved that, when you apply a policy of making the whole population suffer, it is the ones in the lesser conditions that suffer the most.

AmNews: If this has been going on for 64 years now, what’s the work around? Obviously, you’ve been able to survive, to some extent, right?

F.C.: With difficulty.

AN: With difficulty, but you’ve survived with some support?

F.C.: Because of the social nature of our society. Because the whole point has been to be fair and to distribute for everybody. That’s why we have not had the level of social breakdown that we’ve had in many nations in Latin America. …The level of violence, we haven’t had it.

With a lot of constraining resources, we strive for equitable distribution and equitable services for all. That has helped us. But it doesn’t mean that we have not gone through very difficult moments and that it has not constrained our potential for development. Our country will be more prosperous, and each Cuban will be more prosperous, if not for U.S. policy.

AN: Okay, of course, you’re going to have people here who are going to say, well, it’s because you have an authoritarian government.

F.C.: I know they would say that. But they have an authoritarian government in this place, in this country. And there are authoritarians in many countries. And I could claim that’s a domestic issue of Cuba. But what’s extraordinary is having the most powerful economy in the world spending billions of dollars for over 60 years to make life as difficult as possible for Cuba. Why do they need to spend billions of dollars in destroying the Cuban economy if, by their own definition, that economy would fail on its own? Why don’t they test it for three years? If something is a failed experiment, why mess with it? Just allow it to fail. The U.S. has dedicated billions of dollars in the past 64 years to destroying the economy of a relatively small country with poor resources and a very modest economy. And they haven’t succeeded totally.

They claim that socialism is a failed experiment, that it’s a mismatch from the economy.

Then why do they need to destroy it? If you look at the level of legislation, the amount of people in the Treasury Department dedicated to going after Cuban transactions anywhere in the world is larger than the amount of people in the Treasury Department that have gone after the transactions of any other country in the world, including countries with which the U.S. has been at war, including countries that the U.S. today identifies as superpowers that are rivals to the United States. Why would the United States need to do that if what we’re doing in Cuba is such a failure? Why haven’t they been able to break the consensus of the Cuban population which has an average education higher than most Americans? Can we be so stubborn and so blind that we cannot understand the benefits of accepting U.S. pressure and becoming a colony or a subject of the United States, which is what we don’t want to be?

Cuba sets an example that is not liked in this country: in terms of social justice, in terms of assessing sovereignty, in terms of erasing segregation of different types. It’s disliked in this country, not by most Americans but by powerful people in this country. That’s the reason we are being punished constantly, because it’s an experiment. One of the things that the Revolution did, because it was a commitment, was to redistribute the enjoyment of wealth.

You can’t do that in any country unless you redistribute property and access to property.

And when we did that, to ensure social justice, is when we came into collision with the United States, because the protection, respect, and the sanctity of private property in this country, which is enshrined in your whole political system, that is seen as an insult, and they can’t accept that 90 miles away.

AN: Okay. So, we now have the main person who’s been able to sort of hold up any progress in terms of Cuba-U.S. relations, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), now under indictment. Do you have any comment regarding Menendez’s indictment, do you see any chance of the blockade now being lifted?

F.C.: I don’t. First, I don’t think Menendez was used by the government as an excuse by the U.S. government. But we’re in the fourth year of this administration––which is the last year, unless they get reelected, they might, or they might not. But it is very evident today that this government, the Biden government, the approach it took was betting on the collapse of the Cuban government, betting on the failure or the incapacity of the Cuban government to continue to provide an equitable social justice for all. And on that basis, there would be in Cuba some level of social collapse and disruption that would lead to an economic evolution to the liking of Washington. It’s very clear today they have been betting on that. So, at least in the coming months, which is what’s rest of this administration, truly we don’t expect change.

(Cubavsbloqueo - Amsterdam News)