Unblocking Cuba: still a mountain to climb

Later next week (23 June) the United Nations General Assembly will debate a resolution to put an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

In recent days, protests against the United States 60-year-old economic blockade have been organised to coincide with this weekend’s meeting of the G7. The call has been for an immediate end to the inhumane sanctions on trade and development inflicted on the Caribbean Island by the world’s largest and most aggressive super power.

In Northern Ireland, Workers Party members participated in the unfurling of the world’s largest Cuba flag and an #unblockcuba slogan on the side of Belfast’s Black Mountain in a demonstration of solidarity organised by the Cuba Solidarity Forum.

The last resolution condemning the US blockade was passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2019 by 187 votes to 3, with two abstentions. Successive motions to the UN General Assembly have been adopted with similarly near unanimous figures over the years.

Despite the local and global protests and in the face of the overwhelming condemnation of the United Nations, the United States persists with this inhumane economic blockade and continues to pursue this massive violation of human rights.

Regrettably, the United States does not stand alone. In early June a resolution brought before the European Parliament maliciously attempted to undermine Cuba, a free, independent, sovereign, democratic nation that embraces social justice and human solidarity, demonstrating many achievements and tremendous social benefits to the Cuban people and engaging in international life-saving, humanitarian solidarity actions. 

The momentum, however, is with Cuba and the Cuban people, but there is still a mountain to climb before the blockade is finally vanquished.

This week Cuba’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said,

 “The blockade is a cruel policy, which causes suffering, deprivation, and shortages to Cuban families. It has been deliberately tightened during the COVID-19 pandemic; it hinders access to medicines, supplies, and necessary equipment,”

It is worth noting that, although successive US administrations have maintained and strengthened the blockade of Cuba, two US Presidents in particular, both of whom enjoyed hero worship status in Ireland were responsible for some of the worst human rights violations against the Cuban people.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) not only tightened to economic and social noose around Cuba but authorised an illegal invasion at the Bay of Pigs in the early 1960s. Bill Clinton toughened the sanctions against Cuba with the signing of the Helms–Burton Act in 1996 which extended the embargo to include sanctions against non-US companies having the temerity to trade with Cuba.

Despite another ‘friend of Ireland’ occupying the White House the Cuban Blockade continues.

When President Joe Biden makes his long-promised visit to Ireland he should be left in no doubt that, mountain or not, progressive forces here are committed to the long haul until Cuba and its people are freed from one of the world’s most sustained, oppressive, unjustifiable and inhumane campaigns of economic embargo.


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