Sanctions on Cuban Families: Biden between Lies and Reality

by Gustavo A Maranges, published on Resumen,  February 24, 2022

The rising tension in Europe has not distracted President Biden enough to stop thinking for a while about how to keep the United States government’s foot over Cubans’ neck. He recently found time to stop and sign in a few seconds a measure that will affect the lives of 11 million people.

According to a White House statement, President Biden notified Congress about his will to extend for another year the emergency state regarding the entrance to Cuba of any vessels and aircraft registered in the US. The text is a mockery even for the most basic level of human intelligence ever since it reads that Cuba has not offered any guarantees on the safety of American ships going to the island.

Biden stated that the situation during the last 12 months has not changed to the point of knowing that Cuba will not use force against civil vessels and aircraft, “that may engage in memorial activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba.” It is not clear to me if he limited the scenarios to a single one or if he just wanted to mention an example. In either case it is clear what the real intention of yet another sanction is.

While reading the statement, I started to doubt everything I know regarding the bilateral relationship between the two countries. How can the president say this if every week dozens of flights from civil airlines travel to Cuba without any remarkable incidents or aggressions to talk about or report? Likewise, cruise ships that belong to American enterprises traveled to Cuba for years without a single incident.

The only two possible answers are: Biden lives in a parallel reality or he is a liar, and taking into account the president’s clear mind for other issues, I go with the second option.

On the other hand, I cannot imagine Cuban warplanes shooting down an aircraft with medicines, food, or any other goods meant for the benefit of people. It is also stupid and unreasonable to think that a country will contract a shipping company only to assault the ship later. It makes no sense at all. Nevertheless, Biden seems so creative when imagining possible scenarios, and Congress always seems to follow right along.

The US president also mentioned that letting American ships go to Cuba may unleash a massive migration wave. This reference is related to similar events, which took place back in 1980 (Mariel crisis) and 1994. However, the point here is that both were instigated by the American government, which did not fulfill the migratory agreements between the two countries and implemented a migratory policy that fosters the illegal migration of Cubans to the northern neighbor. Both causes continue to fuel the illegal migration of Cubans that sets them on a dangerous course with no guarantee that they will be able to cross the border into the US if they can get there.

Biden said that such an event would entail a national security risk for his country, but his administration keeps encouraging it. They took away the Consulate in Havana and moved it to the most difficult place for Cubans to go; they have only granted between 4,000 and 5,000 visas a year, for the last 4 years, despite their commitment of issuing 20,000 annual visas. They also have rigorously enforced the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans to apply for a green card after 1 year plus a day in the US.

Setting aside the fact that Cuba does not allow its citizens to leave the country by sea, after 2014, Obama allowed private vessels and cruise ships to come to Cuba, and there was nothing that looked like a ‘migratory wave’ then. On the contrary, it prevented such an event from happening. Thus, Biden is deliberately lying on his argument to keep the measure. But why?

If we look at the history of this Proclamation, it dates back to 1996. Then-President Bill Clinton decided to strengthen the blockade in response to the shooting down of two civil airplanes property of the anti Cuba NGO Brothers to the Rescue. This organization repeatedly engaged in counterrevolutionary propaganda and violations of the Cuban aerial space. A controversy arose about if they were on international or Cuban air space. Cuban authorities said the airplanes were shot down after several warnings after entering the Cuban aerial space. Meanwhile, the US government says the opposite but failed to disclose satellite data to scientifically prove Cuba was wrong.

Cuba has the right to punish, as anybody would do, the violation of its maritime and aerial spaces under any circumstances. Will the US allow a Russian airplane to fly over the country, throwing Russian propaganda leaflets out the window? Of course not. Therefore, why should Cuba do it?

Biden is just using rhetorical arguments to hide the real intention of this measure. Denying shipping services of American companies to Cuba is the true objective of this measure and that is the reason why Biden’s public justifications sound so out of touch with reality. However, this is not new.

Qualifying Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism, criticizing religious freedom in Cuba, accusing the island of human trafficking, and now, accusing it of being a violent country, are just attempts to portray a country that does not exist and is figment of the imaginations of the anti Cuba crowd in the US. Although, the American government needs it to back the hundreds of Proclamations and Acts that upholds the blockade. Biden wants to stifle the Cuban economy and Cubans’ constant efforts to move forward against all odds.

For him, it is just paper, a signature and that’s it. But meanwhile, for a Cuban family, it means something so basic and needed such as milk for the children or medicines for the elders. For us, it is not about lies or reality, but about the health and the most decent well being of our loved ones.

*Featured Image: Cuban children receiving afternoon snack at school. ~Bill Hackwell

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