“Despite Biden’s campaign promises the blockade remains in place, and recent announcements to reverse some of Trump’s policies have yet to be implemented.”
By Natasha Hickman, Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Cuba’s economic difficulties continue to have a significant impact on the daily lives of its population. Shortages of basic food items and medicines, planned power cuts, and delays to public transport challenge every family. The tightened blockade and Trump-era sanctions, the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the health service, and an increase in world prices see the island confronting its most severe economic crisis since the ‘Special Period’ of the ‘90s, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba lost its key trading partners overnight.
Despite Biden’s campaign promises the blockade remains in place, and recent announcements to reverse some of Trump’s policies have yet to be implemented. Allowing remittances to resume, processing family visas, and opening some travel opportunities will help to bring hard currency into the country, but much more could be done if the US administration was genuine in its stated desire to help the Cuban people.
As has always been the way, Cubans are forced to rely on their own talent, ingenuity, and resilience to survive.
The incredible achievement of Cuban scientists in producing three home-grown COVID-19 vaccines illustrates the potential the island has to develop and thrive. With almost the entire population over two years old completely vaccinated, the island now leads the world in its booster programme rates.
Yet at every turn the nefarious shadow of US policy blocks Cuba’s path forward.
In June, at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, the US government received a crystal-clear message from the rest of the region that their persecution of Cuba must stop. Just as at the annual United Nations General Assembly vote on the blockade, country after country stood up to tell President Biden to his face that the US was isolated in this international arena.
Cooperation, trade agreements and solidarity between Latin American countries provide a lifeline to Cuba. With the recent election victory of a progressive leader in Colombia, and hopefully the same in Brazil later this year, the regional political landscape will change for the better.
Cuba is once again welcoming international tourists and there is a steady growth in visitor numbers which will help the country recover economically. However, there is still much we can do: continue to press our own government to maintain and develop relations with Cuba, and strengthen our campaigning against the illegal blockade, now in its 60th year.
At the same time we must do all we can to help the Cuban people get through this current crisis. Our members’ wonderful response to the COVID-19 Medical Appeal raised more than £150,000 for life-saving medicines and equipment. Now our focus is on educational aid and sending essential teaching resources to Cuban schools. We hope you will support the Viva la Educación appeal in whatever way you can. It is both a practical and much needed way to support Cuba at this time.
- Join the Cuba Solidarity Campaign for their fringe event at Labour Party Conference 2022 “60 years too long – End the US blockade of Cuba” on Tuesday 27 September 5.30pm, Room 11C, ACC (Conference centre). With Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez, Cuban Ambassador; Navendu Mishra MP; Paula Barker MP; Diana Holland, Unite the Union; Gemma Bolton, Labour NEC; Kevin Courtney, NEU; and Rob Miller, Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
- You can follow the Cuba Solidarity Campaign on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
- This article was originally published in print in the Labour Party Conference 2022 special edition of Labour Outlook – you can view it here.