Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cuba: Call off the Embargo President Obama

Today I was part of a UNISON London region reception at Congress House for the General Secretaries of the two biggest Cuban public sector trade unions. Dulce Maria Iglesias Suarez (Public Administration Union SNTAP 3rd left) and Maria del Carmen Rodriguez Reyes (Health Union SNTS 4th left).

Our region recently signed a “Capital to Capital” twinning agreement with the Havana public sector unions. £45,000 was raised towards the cost of a new Ambulance control centre. It is always interesting to meet trade unionists from other countries and share experiences. Recently the role of Polyclinics in London has become a hot topic. Cuba invented “Polyclinics” and their primary health care system is second to none. Housing policy in Cuba and Britain has changed over the last 50 years and is changing still. Many problems are similar to both countries.

However, it is crystal clear talking and listening to the Cubans that the United States embargo on Cuba is still having a hugely detrimental effect on the Country and its people. Because of the embargo workers find it difficult to obtain the specialist safety equipment needed to operate sanitary and sewage works effectively. Ambulances are off the road due to problems obtaining spare parts and even instruction manuals. The economy is obviously adversely affected by the embargo and the ban on US citizens from travelling to the country.

Recent reports suggest President Obama is considering lifting the embargo. It would be a superb symbolic gesture that would mean so much to the world if the “ban” and embargo is lifted. It has been proved to be an embarrassing failure and it continued existence undermines US policy in the region and elsewhere. How can the US morally trade with China but not with Cuba? It all just looks like bullying. It is also completely counterproductive.

I’m not all that sure that President Obama will be listening to advice from John’s Labour blog but the number one rule in politics is if you find yourself in a hole - stop digging.


Jesmi said...

This is one area where I don't fully agree with President Obama. While I appreciate the diplomatic overtures to Cuba, why is it they have to prove themselves worthy of our lifting the 50 year old embargo? Why do they have to prove they have instituted Democratic reform? After all, China hasn't, and we trade with them. Neither has Vietnam, where a former Presidental Candidate was held prisoner and thousands of Americans were killed, yet we've reconciled with them, and I can go there on vacation if I want.. but not Cuba! it makes no sense what so ever! End the embargo NOW, no preconditions. .just end it.. !

John Gray said...

Hi Jesmi

Good stuff - but are just a spammer or do you actually beleive this argument?