NEW YORK NEW YORK: Washington remains deaf to Cuba call
Did Wikileaks tell us anything we didn’t already know about what the United States Embassy in Bridgetown is up to when it comes to relations between the Eastern Caribbean and Cuba?
Answer: not at all.
Did Rebecca Ross, the public affairs official at Washington’s diplomatic outpost in Barbados commit a faux pas by acknowledging that, yes, America “would encourage Caribbean nations through their bilateral and multilateral relations with Cuba to encourage the Castro administration to move towards democracy and respect all of the fundamental rights of all of its citizens”?
In a cable released recently by Wikileaks, the organization whose disclosure of thousands of sensitive diplomatic cable embarrassed Washington, we were told that the embassy was monitoring the relationship between Barbados and its Eastern Caribbean neighbours and Cuba. Actually, the United States has been doing that for years, and the region has known it all along. Just as important, the monitoring falls within the realm of accepted diplomatic behaviour.
Various American officials have pressed the human rights case against Cuba for more than 40 years, but to no avail. And Washington knows that its attempts to get the Caribbean to change its mind about Cuba is an exercise in futility.
The United States is playing a somewhat similar game with the Caribbean on the issue of Cuba. After all, the UN routinely passes a resolution every year by a wide margin calling on the America to end its unjust economic boycott against Cuba, but Washington ignores the measure.
That explains why Caribbean states, quite rightly, take to the UN General Assembly’s podium every year to urge Washington to end the boycott, knowing that the plea will fall on deaf ears.
Consider some recent examples during last month’s General Assembly debate:
• Prime Minister Freundel Stuart: “Barbados respects the sovereign rights of Cuba and supports, unequivocally, its full integration into our hemisphere . . . . My delegation thinks, therefore, that the economic embargo against Cuba has long outlived its usefulness and should be lifted.”
• Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of Grenada: “Grenada again urges the United States of America to completely lift the harsh economic embargo against the people of Cuba.”
• Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent: “We continue to believe that international solidarity and principle are the keys to finally ending the unjust and illegal embargo against our brothers and sisters in Cuba. There is no place in our modern world for this anachronistic relic of the cold war.
• Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua: “. . . Since its inception, the blockade has inflicted untold economic damage to the Cuban people, caused by shortages and needless suffering to the Cuban population, limited and restrained the development of the country, and seriously damaged the economy.”