"And, mind you that's $600-700 million in losses to a nation whose GDP is around $110 Billion (with a b)."
Would you mind sharing your sources? I'm having a hard time finding what I would call reliable data.
"The embargo means almost nothing- about 1/2%."
The data I have found, however, is troubling to me, and I should think it would be even more troubling to you, a physician.
And, mind you that's $600-700 million in losses to a nation whose GDP is around $110 Billion (with a b). The embargo means almost nothing- about 1/2%.
From The American Journal of Public Health
From The American college of Physicians/American Society of Internal Medicine
From Amnesty International, sourcing data from a number of UN sources and the WHO, all irredeemably biased I'm sure ;0)
If you read these, I think you might realize that it is not quite so simple as monetary impact on Cuba. The Torricelli Act of 1992 and the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, by all accounts I have read, caused enormous suffering among children in particular. The Cuban embargo bears an errie resemblance to that imposed on Iraq, although the impact in Iraq was far worse, where the FAO estimated that over 500,000 Iraqi children perished from the sanctions. This was confirmed by Madeline Albright in her infamous interview on 60 minutes where she confirmed the number and said she thought it was worth it to try to bring down Saddam, a statement she later tried to retract. Interesting that both policies were pursued under the same aministration.
"Oh, that's droll. I've addressed this. They didn't miss anything- they merely detest US unilateralism. Their statements pay lip service to the plight of the Cubans but really they are just rants for the sovereignty of states, against unilateralism, etc. (I read them!)"
Do you really believe that? That they would go against the most powerful nation on earth merely to rant against unilateralism and schoolyard bullying? I have no response other than to propose that perhaps leaders and peoples elsewhere, having tasted economic suffering themselves in recent memory, may be slightly more empathetic to the suffering of others.
"But, I mean, c'mon. Syria doesn't care about its own citizens let alone some starving Cubans. That's farcical."
Syria has a different set of grievances against us, and additional reasons for opposing darn near anything we do, but the Syrian people definitely empathize with the plight of the Cubans, or at least did when I was over there. I doubt that has changed in the intervening years.
"I have my problems with unilateral US action, too. It may be needed for immediate righteous retaliation, or oftentimes, yes, it's needed so that a response can be timely, but you can't exactly claim either of those of a 50-year embargo, eh?"
On this we agree.
"Well, the embargo will end with the Castros and the older expats die, I guess. And in the meanwhile the plight Of the Cubans is the fault of their own government, not the embargo."
See my above links as to at least part of the fault.
"One thing that does annoy me about the embargo is that I'm not sure if we've ever actually made any demands of the government of Cuba. I.e. I'm not sure if we've ever told them what actions they could take that might predispose us to easing the embargo."
Our requirements for lifting the embargo are laid out in either the Torricelli or Helms-Burton Acts, can't remember which offhand. You can find it in the Amnesty International link if you're interested.
"The US hoots a lot about the plight of dissidents- which granted is a serious issue in Cuba- but, hell, we even managed to tell Saddam what we expected of him before we'd lift his embargo..."
And yet our silence on the plight of the dissidents in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia,et al is deafening. The hypocrisy is nauseating.
"Really? I could have sworn that it was a recommendation they made, once. Maybe I'm thinking of another agency. I'll research..."
I'll be interested in your results.
"Well, clearly, yes, it is being very circumspect- it was so circumspect that you missed the point, because that isn't what it is saying at all. It says nothing about what life was like under Batista."
The were implications in their statement about Cuba having the best health care in Latin America, etc. You're right, I missed the point.
"It just points out that many ECONOMIC indicators have taken nose-dives since the revolution. Personally, I think that they merely saw that SOMETHING bad was about to go down..."
A natural after effect of a revolution. The Castros were not technocrats and most of those who were fled because they were part and parcel of an exploitive system that led to something bad going down.
I will alway wonder how things would have turned out if we had, as you suggested, gone in with checkbooks blazing.
"And you can thank collectivisation for the starving Cubans, not the US embargo- Cubans ate much better pre-revolution than they do today, and though Batista certainly oppressed them I would propose that they were no more oppressed than they are today, albeit in different ways."
I am not here to defend the Cuban economic system, contrary to what you may think. My beef is with our reaction to the revolution and the suffering it caused to the innocent. Again, refer to my links, above.
"Again, I'm ignoring that statement, because it's pointless. Unless you are trying to portray la Revolucion in some sort of romantic light, that is. All revolutions start small and grow, as did Castro's. Surely you're not going to claim that 1950s Cuba under the dictator Batista wasn't a fertile ground for revolution?"
That is precisely my point, and I made it in response to the State Department document you linked to.
Circumspect is one way to describe it, deceptive might be even better. I don't see revolutions in a romantic light at all. They are always messy, bloody affairs, undertaken and supported only in desperation, as was certainly the case in Cuba. The best health care in Latin America? For who? Certainly not the campesinos who risked all to support Castro.
"And, while I'm thinking of it, I have to ask-
There are a LOT of failed economies throughout the world and the US trades with all of them. Clearly, US trade isn't helping them. Why are you assuming that a US embargo is the cause of Cuba's ills, rather than that it is just another f-ed up economy? There really aren't many places where communism is WORKING, after all- and, no, China doesn't count. I'm not sure what China is any more, but it isn't communist."
As I said above, I am not defending the Castro economic system. Rather I am criticizing our response to his takeover as immoral, and just plain bad foreign policy. It has badly tarnished our image worlswide, as can be seen in a succession of general Assembly votes that have left us isolated and damaged our moral authority. In combination with similar actions throughout Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, we are increasingly left with only brute force as an option for advancing our foreign policy goals. This is not a good position to be in, as we are in the process of discovering. As for Communism working, probably not. It is an idea the human race is not ready for, and may never be. However, I am a firm believer in letting different nations find that out for themselves.
"Your biggest argument- the US resolution- is political, not economic."
It is not a black and white question for me. There has definitely been an economic impact, but I have not seen any data that pins down precisely how much. What has been the impact of Torricelli and Helms-Burton in discouraging other countries companies from dealing with Cuba? I don't know, and I haven't seen any data quantifying it.There has definitely been an impact on health care in Cuba, as I think the data I linked to above proves pretty conclusively. What is the follow on economic impact of that? I don't know, but it has to be substantial. My Argument, therefore is both, and also has a moral dimension. Interfering with access to health care for the most vulnerable vulnerable in a society in criminal, and I suspect that is a major reason our allies vote against us every time the subject of the embargo comes up in the General Assmebly.