The Embargo Makes Headlines

Obama Agrees It Harms U. S.
       This Reuters photo shows Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez holding a news conference in Havana yesterday -- Wednesday, September 16th. His topic was the 53-year-old U. S. embargo against Cuba, which Cuba calls a blockade. Rodriguez pointed out that "77% of Cubans today have lived their entire lives under the blockade and the humanitarian impact and damage is extreme and cannot be measured with numbers." The timing of Rodriguez's news conference, just before Pope Francis arrives in Cuba, might relate to the fact that the Vatican in Rome has long railed against the embargo. Indeed, yesterday the Vatican repeated its denunciation of "the hardships that have endured under the embargo." Rodriguez said the embargo has cost Cuba "833.7 billion dollars" since 1962. Rodriguez was informed that President Barack Obama in Washington earlier Wednesday also expressed opposition to the embargo. Reuters said Rodriguez responded, "We appreciate and recognize President Obama's policy change regarding the blockade. He understands that the claim by the international community to lift the blockdade is indispensable."
        President Barack Obama yesterday -- September 16th -- spoke in Washington at the Business Roundtable on a myriad of economic issues important to the corporate executives in attendance. Cuba was not the prime topic but it was a topic. The President made it clear that he thinks the embargo against Cuba is not only out-dated but injurious to the United States. He said, "My biggest suggestion would be for the Business Roundtable just to start having conversations on a bipartisan basis on lifting the embargo."
        In the last two years of his two-term presidency, Mr. Obama has clearly made Cuba a linchpin of his legacy. Back on January 20th, during his State of the Union message, he asked Congress to lift the embargo, clearly recognizing that for decades it has made the U. S. look like a cruel, imperialist bully in the eyes of the entire world. Each October for the past 24 years a vote in the United Nations has made that point abundantly clear. In the last two years the UN vote has been 188-to-2 against the U. S. embargo with only Israel, a U. S. economic and military dependent, supporting the U. S. position. The 2015 vote at the UN will be held October 27th. Meanwhile, in this month of September Pope Francis, President Obama, and Cuban President Raul Castro will speak at the United Nations in New York. President Obama and President Castro will speak at the UN the same day -- September 28th -- and they may even shake hands...again!
          Back in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, President Obama made history by shaking hands with Cuba's 84-year-old President Raul Castro, after which the two leaders had a long and cordial private meeting. A few months later, trying to move all the way from hostility to the cusp of friendship, the U. S. and Cuba reopened embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961.
"Nuestros Hermanos Cubanos" = "Our Cuban Brothers."
       Considering the brutal hold a cabal of Miami Cubans, Mafiosi,  and right-wingers in the U. S. Congress have had on America's Cuban policy since the 1950s, merely having the courage to attempt to normalize relations with Cuba should stand as an everlasting hallmark of President Obama's legacy, regardless of the closing coda.

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