Jorge Alberto Bolaños Suárez (*)
WHILE continuing his threats of war on Syria, President Obama has extended, for the fifth time, provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act, entirely focused on a single country, Cuba.
The law provides an important component within the tangle of regulations, executive decisions and laws which create the economic, financial and commercial blockade of Cuba, unilaterally and illegally imposed on the country, which was described by the head of sanctions at the Office of Foreign Assets Control Office as the most comprehensive, coherent and broad set of sanctions ever implemented against another nation.
It was President John F. Kennedy who, in 1963, after several weeks of vacillation, given the fact that war had not been officially declared on Cuba, authorized the blockade via presidential proclamation, justified on the basis of a supposed state of emergency.
This option was first employed during WWI by President Woodrow Wilson, who considered the economic boycott an efficient, deadly weapon.
More than a few academics believed that, during his second term, Obama would proceed to make changes in the hostile U.S. policy toward Cuba, changes he did not undertake in his first term. Analysts thought that the Trading with the Enemy Act authorization of the blockade was precisely the first sanction which might disappear without drawing too much attention, given that it would die a natural death if not specifically extended by the President.
In fact, it has become an increasingly visible issue, with various segments of U.S. society rejecting the policy. Repeated statements by well-known figures and opinion polls have confirmed this broad opposition.
On the international level, no other nation has ever been as isolated in the UN General Assembly as is the United States in regards to the criminal, genocidal blockade of Cuba. It was likewise demonstrated, in both Trinidad and Cartagena meetings of the Organization of American States (OAS) that this hostile policy is one of the main sources of friction between the U.S. and Latin America.
Obama, no doubt, thought about this when the time came to sign the extension, but he opted, once again, to follow imperialist logic. His discourse on Cuba, just like that of his predecessors, continues to uphold the widely-rejected blockade as a valuable tool in the effort to impose internal changes in the country.
This was precisely Woodrow Wilson’s view. I quote, "A nation that is boycotted is a nation that is in sight of surrender. Apply this economic, peaceful, silent, deadly remedy and there will be no need for force. It does not cost a life outside the nation boycotted, but it brings a pressure upon the nation which, in my judgment, no modern nation could resist." End of quote.
Wilson was correct in defining a boycott as a deadly weapon, but he was wrong when he said that a boycotted nation would be forced to surrender. Cuba has soundly refuted this, with more than 50 years of heroic resistance to the genocidal U.S. blockade.
Obama should learn this lesson. •
(*) Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, 2007- 2012.