U.S. Continues Embargo On Cuba Despite UN Pressure

On Wednesday 23 June, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for a resolution that would demand an end to the United States embargo on Cuba. Given that the U.S. and Israel were the only two countries that voted against the proposal, the vote clearly demonstration the broader international community’s views on the five-decade-old embargo. Since 1992, the UN has voted annually on the issue. For 29 consecutive years, there has been an overwhelming majority favoring a resolution to end the U.S. embargo on Cuba. However, while the vote carries political weight, only U.S. congress can remove the economic, commercial and financial embargo. Unfortunately, they have consistently voted against resolutions. A notable exception to this pattern was in 2016 under the Obama administration, and Congress abstained.

Posting on social media, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel described the vote’s outcome as evidence that “the world is on Cuba’s side.” Meanwhile, Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, denounced the blockade as “a massive, flagrant and unacceptable violation of the human rights of the Cuban people.” He added that the sanctions have made it harder for the island to cope with the pandemic. According to Ministerio de Salud Pública, Cuba recently recorded its highest daily number of 3,000 COVID-10 cases.

The U.S. defended its decision by reiterating the blockade’s aim to advance democracy and liberty on the island. Political Coordinator for the U.S. Mission Rodney Hunter stated that the sanctions are just one set of tools used in a broader effort to advance democracy and protect human rights in Cuba. Despite the blockade, he added that the U.S. recognizes “the challenges of the Cuban people” and was “a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners.”

For more than 50 years, the U.S. has maintained a comprehensive economic embargo on Cuba. While restrictions were reduced during the Obama administration in an attempt to improve collateral relations, the Trump era saw a reversal of this trajectory. Under President Trump, new sanctions were introduced and reinforced to the point where the administration largely abandoned engagement by 2019. Despite campaign promises to reverse some of Trump’s measures on Cuba, the Biden administration’s behavior so far has not demonstrated evidence of a strong attitude shift towards Cuban relations. Indeed, the administration has stated that policy regarding Cuba is not among its top priorities.

The U.S. has often used sanctions to exert control over foreign bodies and international dynamics. However, the Cuban embargo is a special case. According to political analysts, for sanctions to be effective, a narrow and clearly defined goal must be established. The U.S. aims for a general regime change and democracy is too broad and amorphous. Rather than specifically curating restrictions aimed at achieving concrete goals, the embargo on Cuba is driven by principle and history. A key piece of evidence against its efficacy is longevity. Over its 50-year lifespan, it has failed to herald liberty or democracy in Cuba. If anything, the embargo has forced Cuba to financially rely on and partner with other autocratic regimes like Venezuela.

For now, the U.S. maintains that it is conducting a policy review of Cuban relations. However, the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration remain in place. It is clear – and has been clear for almost 30 years – that the international community does not support the embargo. However, it is yet to be seen how the relationship will develop under President Biden’s administration.

Rafaela Alford
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Yemen, The Largest Humanitarian Crisis In The World

In the past, Yemen was a prosperous developing country suffused with economical and societal riches. Yemen’s roots in the development and distribution of internationally admired goods like coffee and gold date back centuries, which served as a reliable foundation for growth across much of its existence. However, over time it became apparent that Yemen’s unique capabilities would not prove to be an efficient protective mechanism against the travesties of humanity’s inner workings. Slowly, due to international involvement and rivaling political parties intervening with the nation’s societal welfare, the peace that Yemenis embraced for many years was beginning to dissolve into a thing of the past.
2015: The Ignition to Civil Turmoil
In 2004, the United States pushed the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to concentrate on combating a terrorist group known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In response, Yemen’s military force backed by Saudi Arabia launched multiple strikes against a group known as Houthis, who Saleh alleged were creating a dynamic of separatism ,enforcing their religious beliefs on the country’s people and operating in collusion with AQAP. This created a severe rift between the most prominent religious parties in the nation, which established a hostile environment for the state of Yemen and all of its citizens. The trend towards a civil war, indicated by this long standing atmosphere of tension and conflict finally came to a precipice 11 years later. In February of 2015, the Houthi rebellion finally reached the place of power that it desired by forcing Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi (then leader of Yemen, and technically still president of the nation today) and his cabinet to flee to Saudi Arabia, leaving the Houthis essentially in control of the state and all of its facilities. Just a month later, the Saudi Arabian military set the goals of its military intervention to reverse the nation back into the authority of the Hadi government and retain governance over Sana’a, the capital of Yemen. Ever since, these two factions have fought relentlessly for control over the nation, which once gave off a lustrous tint of optimism, but after seemingly endless warfare it has been reduced to a pile of debris and a living case study of how a society can collapse under the pressures of greed, religious opposition, and the corruption of foreign affairs.

The Current State of the Humanitarian Crisis
The civil war in Yemen has decreased the living conditions of its people to a terrifying level. With no resolution in sight, Yemeni people are faced with a situation where optimism for a brighter future seems more like an act of dreaming than a mental reflection of reality. In recent weeks, famine conditions caused by blockades on the borders of the nation and massive economic downfall rivaling famous events on global markets like the Great Depression have reached virality in an increased amount of regions around Yemen. It is estimated that nearly 2.3 million children under the age of five in Yemen are projected to suffer from acute malnutrition and could die if they do not receive urgent treatment. Along with mass starvation, the nationwide warfare has resulted in the displacement of approximately 4 million people, and the killing of over 100 000 people since 2015. These numbers give shocking insight into the sheer magnitude of this humanitarian crisis, and with important political figures like the U.S. President Joe Biden recently announcing reductions in international affairs including the civil war in Yemen, it is difficult to perceive a future where Yemeni citizens will be able to go back to the things they love. An individual can only enjoy the level of happiness that their society’s living conditions permits them to, and unfortunately for the Yemeni people, the likelihood of that ever getting back to a point of admiration remains shrouded in mystery.

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