Sunday, November 21, 2010

Margarita Alarcon : 50 Years of Cuban Embargo is Enough

Margarita Alarcon : 50 Years of Cuban Embargo is Enough


'Four Riders' and the Cuban embargo: Fifty years should be enough


By Margarita Alacon

The Rag Blog

November 6, 2010


In 1992, a little over 19 years ago during one typical

hot summer season in New York City as the calm was

smothering midtown and Murray Hill and the lethargic

heat made it almost impossible to lift even an Italian

Ice, four guys jokingly referred to as the Four Riders

of the Apocalypse conceived of a work plan to fill up

those slow muggy afternoons.


(The "Four Riders" were my father, the ambassador, and

the three men below him in order of rank, while they

were all at the UN during Cuba's tenure in the Security

Council as a non-permanent member, 1990-1992.)


There really wasn't much to do in those days; the first

Gulf War was "over," the sanctions were in place,

Saddam Hussein was still president, and the Iraqi

people were suffering the after-effects of war and

would do so till this very day; the Israeli Palestinian

conflict was still going to be an issue one way or

another; Puerto Rico was not going to be an independent

island (at least not yet); North Korea and Iran had not

yet made a peep over nukes.


Life was pretty slow in the UN. Well, for most, it was slow.


There were those who called them crazy -- almost

harebrained -- given the extreme circumstances and what

they were up against. To others it was remarkable how

this particular topic had never been put forth.


Finally by the end of the summer, right as autumn was

turning the Central Park leaves from green to the

bright hues of auburn and yellow, they presented their

plan to the largest world audience around, the United

Nations. So it was that Resolution 59/11 of the United

Nations General Assembly was adopted during the fall of

the year 1992.


The way UN resolutions work is pretty simple. A nation

-- or a group of nations -- get together and present a

draft resolution which is then voted upon by the entire

body of the General Assembly in order to become a topic

of each year's GA agenda. If it receives enough votes,

it continues on the agenda.


Not very complicated, pretty straight forward, really

not rocket science. As far as the rules and the

regulations of the UN charter are concerned, member

states have rights and responsibilities. One of the

responsibilities is to adhere to the democratic voting

process of the organization, its Charter, and its

Security Council -- whichever the case may be.


The United States of America is a founding member of

both the General Assembly and the Security Council and

has used both privileges on many occasions.


For almost two decades now, in what appeared to be a

slow rise at first and has now become unwavering, the

General Assembly has been voting in favor of resolution

59/11. Each year, gaining votes in favor, and losing

abstentions with the same two nations voting against.


This year, the vote on resolution 59/11 on October 26th

was once again described by the media as "an

overwhelming majority" in favor of the resolution. Of

the 192 member states that make up the entire body of

the United Nations, 187 voted in favor of the

resolution, Two -- Israel and the United States --

voted against it. And here is the punch line for

geography buffs: the Marshall Islands, Palau, and

Micronesia decided to abstain.


Resolution 59/11 is entitled "Necessity of ending the

economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by

the United States of America against Cuba." This is

basically a fancier and nicer way of stating the

following: put an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba.


This is a legislated issue within the United States and

thus does not fall automatically in the hands of the

president. It isn't President Obama's embargo.

Technically it belongs to Congress. Under law the only

way the U.S. embargo against Cuba can be lifted is if

two-thirds of the United States Congress (both houses)

vote to do so. This has been a given since President

William Clinton signed the Helms Burton Bill into law

in 1996 serving at the pleasure of the Cuban American

National Foundation and a few legislators.


It's not President Barack Obama's Embargo; it belongs

to Congress and to the voters in the United States.


The irony is that Cuba is a Third World nation which

has never had -- and has never expressed -- any intent

of harming the people of the United State. Though

unable to acquire practically anything on the open

world market, this island has managed to achieve a 78-

year life expectancy rate and an infant mortality rate

at birth that would be the envy of any First World nation.


This is even more interesting if you take into account

that the embargo has been around as long as the Cuban

Revolution, so the "punishment" was not inflicted

because of anything Cuba did or did not do to the

United States or anyone else, but rather as a response

to its sheer existence: radical social change 90 miles

off the coasts of Florida.


So, I must ask the readers of The Rag Blog to urge the

current President to advise his Congress (and yours) to

lift this unjust, insane, ludicrous, and

internationally condemned policy that is leading nowhere.


Those Four Riders of the Apocalypse didn't spend their

summer months writing in vain. Don't let this president

become the eleventh administrative head responsible for

yet another year of unjust punishment of Cuba -- for

its simple desire for independence and sovereignty,

something the forefathers of your own great nation also

achieved through that "evil" word: revolution.


[Margarita Alarcon Perea was born in Havana, Cuba, and

raised in New York City. She studied at Karl Marx Stadt

in East Germany and Havana, and is a graduate of Havana

University in linguistics. She has taught English

translation and North American Twentieth Century

Literature, and worked in the Cuban music industry. She

is currently a news analyst for Cubadebate in Havana

and contributes to The Huffington Post. Margarita's

father is Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban

National Assembly.]



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