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Wednesday, April 29, 2009


A big lie: the "embargo" (blockade) of Cuba is ineffective

One of many "big lies" told in this world is repeated every time the subject of the blockade of Cuba (called by the U.S. government an "embargo") comes up. It goes something like this: "The embargo is meaningless anyway, it's totally ineffective, after all, when I went to Cuba, I could buy Coca-Cola." No doubt the speaker could, since someone in Mexico or elsewhere could easily afford to export it in violation of U.S. law at an inflated price to Cuba, who could sell it to tourists at a higher price anyway without losing a penny. But the recent flu epidemic, which has already put a huge dent in the Mexican tourist industry, reminds us of one of the many very real effects of the blockade, and I do mean blockade, not "embargo."

One of the many U.S. laws affecting tourism, of which Travel Agent Central (!) reminds us, is that no ship can dock in the United States if it has docked in Cuba within the past six months. U.S. ships, of course, can't dock there at all (which would constitute "doing business with Cuba"), but this applies to all ships, of whatever registry (which makes this action a blockade, albeit one enforced with laws and fines, not physical enforcement).

I can't find it now, but I recall seeing some time ago a feature (I think on TV news, probably BBC) about a Cuban cruise ship port, which I guess had been built before that law went into effect, and which was, essentially, a ghost town. Because, naturally, most cruise ships plying the Caribbean waters are going to want to dock someplace in Florida, either on that voyage or perhaps the next or the next, certainly within the next six months. Which means that the U.S. is effectively able to completely squelch cruise ship tourism to Cuba, costing Cuba, by that one act alone, many millions of dollars through the years.

Through actions like this the blockade has in fact, cost Cuba more than 80 billion dollars over the years, and it continues to do so, whether Coca-Cola is available in Cuba or not.

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