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Latin America Robustly Behind Cuba

10.17.2005

Reports over the weekend from the 15th annual Ibero-American Summit from Spain, center around a resolution at the conference of PMs from Latin America and Spain (17 in all) which affirms opposition to the US blockade on Cuba. While Castro himself wasnt present, his allies among latin states reissued calls for the removal of the blockade.
According to Xinua the text called "on the United States of America to comply with that laid down in 13 successive resolutions approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to bring an end to the economic, trade and financial blockade it maintains against Cuba."
In any mans language that is a strong call for states to make against the States, particularly from those in its self proclaimed back-yard. The U.S. in turn was just as quick to deploy rhetoric in an attempt to defuse any impact the statement may have. Their main quibble was with the use of the term Blockade instead of the more common Embargo.
Whats in a word?
That depends really, if one considers the cuban arguments to be of any merit the embargo has endured for over 40 years and cost $80 Billion in their estimates. Yet for America this is part of their broader calling to finally eradicate communism, right?
This is my queue to get all lathered up about american imperialism, call for an end to the embargo and swiftly move along, my days work done. Yet the problem with this debates is simply that, the approach is call for an end and walk away. An end to the embargo is necessary, as we learned in Iraq, sanctions end up doing irreperable damage to a society, affecting innocent to a far higher degree that the powerful. It serves to isolate a community from sympathetics international actors and divide the argument into a simplistic pro- or anti- argument. In effect the crude tools of embargoes, sanctions et al. serve to shelve genuine resolutions in favour of crippling time spent on the shelf and in the 'out' box.
True, the Cuban blockade smacks of American Imperialism, they are the only state or at least one of a handful able to get away with such a punishing unilateral action against the wishes of 17 UN Security Council resolutions. That in itself is not a justification for removing the embargo. The point to make here is that as a policy whose stated aim was to remove Fidel, for reasons of national security or otherwise, it failed.
40 years on Fidel is still around and so are his Miami based detractors. The rancour and muck that is brought into this debate make any clear cut solution unlikely. I found a rather interesting post over at freetrade.org some debate from the CATO institute, that bastion of progressive values and social justice. The arguments in themselves as an illumination of the differing methodologies used by left and right to arrive at various conclusions. Premises from the discussion above for removing the blockade are, free trade is hampered by the embargo, the US is missing out on invesment in Cuba others are making and on and on.
Yet it seems clear that many on all sides hold a hankering for the removal of the embargo. If anything those who desire to see change in Cuba are hampered by the existence of the blockade as those who wished to overthrow Saddam were by sanctions. Having an existing attmept at solution shuts other avenues to action, soft and hard.
Back at the summit meanwhile,
So back to the Summit itself following that brief digression. The changing of the terminology from embargo to blockade, ive already noted is a big deal. Diplomats read this stuff very analytically and the Latin American news agency reckons;
"The second resolution for the first time replaced the word embargo with that of blockade; not merely a semantic change, but a profound one."
Indeed it could be profound in more ways than one, the global system has always had a degree of willingness to tolerate criticism of the US, primarily however this criticism is done on the terms laid down by the US in the form of accepted terms and refined areas of debate. The big issues were non-negotiable. The willingness of Latin Americas leader to stand up again seems to be coalescing wierdly with the return of Daniel Ortega, leader of the Sandinistas during the dirty wars in Latin America , in a Dr Who esque return of the past.
So what is happening here, are we seeing some momentus moves toward some global realignment in the system? If the renewed vigour of Latin leaders in criticising America in a public and confrontational manner a signal of a return to some suggested bi-polarity? Perhaps, perhaps not.
It goes without saying that at the centre of all this is a figure familiar to all, Hugo Chavez. His staunch alliance with Havana has brought benefits to both leaders widely reported and observed with intrigue. It seems however, that the settling of Latin America back into a familiar pattern of leftist leaders and conflict with the states is something Chavez explicitly desires. I ponder whether, for him and some others at least, the emergence of China as a guardian to the awkward squad is providing some foundation to the renewal of vocal criticism.
It is too simplisitc to reduce it to a correlative cause-effect relationship but I think this certainly is having an impact.
Elsewhere in the summit was an explicit call for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela to answer to charges of terrorism in hijacking a flight which
1976 killed 73 innocent civilians. There is little argument for not deporting him other than the Colombia 3 defence of Human Rights records and jail standards. Yet talking terrorism with the States is equally big talk from this summit, if nothing else it looks like providing some fodder for posts over the coming years.
I dont think this will result, yet, in any major fissure in Latin America and a return to the dirty wars of the Reagan years. However what is at play is something many in the global community are picking up on. At some level it seems the US hegemony is being challenged, accpetence of the US line is moving from traditional foes to more moderate states. Spains willingness to put its name to some of this is stricking. Perhaps nothing shall come, but I thinks its a space to watch.
RR


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  1. Blogger leftside | 12:54 a.m. |  

    Nice analysis. You can check out my own take on the Ibero Summit - and other mostly Latin/Carribean issues at:aviewtothesouth.blogspot.com

    Regards, Matt

  2. Blogger leftside | 12:54 a.m. |  

    Nice analysis. You can check out my own take on the Ibero Summit - and other mostly Latin/Carribean issues at:aviewtothesouth.blogspot.com

    Regards, Matt

  3. Blogger Cian | 6:48 p.m. |  

    Thanks for the kind words, il be across to check you out presently.
    RR

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