President Biden released a statement on Monday throwing his support behind anti-government protesters in Cuba.
“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said.
While Biden claims the US “stands” with the people of Cuba, his administration is still enforcing the decades-old trade embargo despite international calls to end it. In June, the US and Israel were the only two countries that voted against ending the embargo at the UN General Assembly.
The Obama administration took steps to normalize with Cuba, but since the embargo wasn’t fully lifted, President Trump was able to reverse these steps. As a candidate, Biden said he would return to the Obama-era Cuba policy. But so far, all of the sanctions Trump reinstated are still in effect.
Sanctions that Trump reinstated include restrictions on remittances, making it difficult for Cuban-Americans to send money home to their families. Due to Trump’s actions, companies like Western Union ended their money-sending service to Cuba last November.
Proponents of the embargo argue that it is not to blame for things like medicine shortages in Cuba since there are exemptions for such goods. But whenever a country is under such heavy US sanctions, medical shipments are always affected since it discourages companies from doing any business with the targeted countries.
For example, the embargo blocked a coronavirus aid shipment from a Chinese billionaire in April 2020. The carrier company shipping the goods declined to make the delivery over the fear of sanctions because its major shareholder is a US-based company subject to the embargo.
Cuba is one of the best examples of how US economic sanctions don’t work to achieve Washington’s stated foreign policy goals and instead inflict more suffering on civilians in the target country. Over 60 years after the embargo was imposed, the same government is in power in Havana, and the people are suffering.
Thousands of anti-government protesters reportedly took to the streets of Cuba on Sunday. On Monday, the streets were quiet, and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed what he called the “economic asphyxiation” caused by the US embargo for the conditions that caused the unrest.