Forum: General Assembly Issue: Question of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba Student Officer: Elisa Barkan Position: President Chair of General Assembly Introduction: On February 7, 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed the US embargo against Cuba- This embargo, known by Cubans as “el bloqueo”, consists of economic sanctions against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce for all people and companies under United States of America (USA) jurisdiction. Those in favor of the embargo believe it should not be lifted since Cuba has not met the conditions, set by the USA, required to lift it. This also means that ending the embargo before the Cuban government meets the conditions specified by USA law would make the USA look weak. Some think the Cuban government has consistently responded to USA attempts to soften the embargo with acts of aggression, raising concerns about what would happen if the sanctions were fully lifted. Furthermore, the embargo enables the United States to apply pressure on the Cuban government to improve human rights. Additionally, since there is no private sector in Cuba, opening trade would help the government but not the Cuban citizens. Moreover, the USA is able to target the Cuban government with its embargo while still providing assistance to Cuban citizens. Also, the uncertainty over who will succeed Raúl Castro makes it doubtful for the USA to change its policy before a new leader is in place. Those against the embargo believe the USA should end the embargo because its 50-year policy has failed to achieve its goals. Also, the embargo may be viewed as a relic of the Cold War Era thinking and is unnecessary because Cuba does not pose a threat to the USA. Additionally, the embargo not only harms the government of Cuba, but also that of the USA, and the citizens of both countries. Furthermore, it is hypocritical for the USA to have different trading and travel policies with Cuba than with other countries with governments of policies it opposes. It is also hypocritical for the USA government to promote democracy by prohibiting American citizens from traveling to Cuba. Free trade, not the isolation of an embargo, is a more effective means of promoting democracy in Cuba. Lifting the embargo would also put pressure on Cuba to address problems that it had previously blamed on US sanctions. Many member states have expressed an opinion that the embargo has subjected the Cuban people to social, political, and economic damages. Also, the embargo may have effects such as hampering efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. These measures of coercion used regarding the sanctions go against the United Nations Charter and the Assembly resolutions. Nations must note all the Cuban boat people who have tried to, some successfully, to travel to USA. Also, Raul Castro did permit economic changes, giving Cubans some economic ‘freedoms’ and permitting them to have dollar accounts. Furthermore, the USA has made some overtures to Cuba and permitted some humanitarian aid but Obama has not lifted the embargo. Definition of Key Terms: Embargo: an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular country. Sanction: a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule. Cold War: A state of political hostility between countries characterized by threats, propaganda, and other measures short of open warfare. The state of political hostility that existed between the Soviet bloc countries and the US-led Western powers from 1945 to 1990. Major Countries and Organizations Involved: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Has the mission to provide dynamic leadership and service, in partnership with Community institutions and Groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally competitive and sustainable Community, with improved quality of life for all in the Caribbean area. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) An intergovernmental organization, whose main goal is achieving food security for all. Hence, their three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Human Rights Council (HRC) An intergovernmental body responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. Cuba, United States of America (USA) Timeline of Events: Date Event 1898 USA defeats Spain, which gives up all claims to Cuba and cedes it to the USA. 1902 Cuba becomes independent with Tomas Estrada Palma as its president, but the Platt Amendment keeps the island under USA protection and gives the USA the right to intervene in Cuban affairs. 1909 Jose Miguel Gomez becomes president following elections supervised by the USA, but it soon tarred by corruption. 1912 USA forces return to Cuba to help put down black protests against discrimination. 1934 USA abandons its right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs, revises Cuba’s sugar quota and changes tariffs to favor Cuba. 1959 Castro leads a guerrilla army into Havana, forcing Batista to flee. Castro becomes prime minister. Castro meets US Vice President Richard Nixon on an unofficial visit to Washington. Nixon afterwards wrote that the US had no choice but to try to “orient” the leftist leader in the “right direction”. 1960 All USA businesses in Cuba are nationalized without compensation; USA breaks off diplomatic relations with Havana and imposes a trade embargo in response to Castro’s reforms. 1961 US backs an abortive invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs; Castro proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR. The CIA begins to make plans to assassinate Castro as part of Operation Mongoose. At least five plans to kill the Cuban leader were drawn up between 1961 and 1963. 1962 Cuban missile crisis ignites when, fearing a US invasion, Castro agrees to allow the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. The US released photos of Soviet nuclear missile silos in Cuba – triggering a crisis, which took the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. It was subsequently resolved when the USSR agreed to remove the missiles in return for the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey. 1980 Around 125,000 Cubans, many of them released convicts, flee to the US, when Castro temporarily lifted restrictions. 1993 USA tightens its embargo on Cuba, which introduces some market reforms in order to stem the deterioration of its economy. These include the legalization of the US dollar, the transformation of many state farms into semi-autonomous co-operatives, and the legalization of limited individual private enterprise. 1994 Cuba signs an agreement with the US according to which the US agrees to admit 20,000 Cuban a year in return for Cuba halting the exodus of refugees. 1996 USA trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba’s shooting down of two USA aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles. Nov 1999 Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast after the boat in which his mother, stepfather and others had tried to escape to the US capsized. A huge campaign by Miami-based Cuban exiles begins with the aim of preventing Elian from rejoining his father in Cuba and of making him stay with relatives in Miami. June 2000 Elian allowed to rejoin his father in Cuba after prolonged court battles. June 2001 Five Cubans convicted in Miami and given long sentences for spying for the Cuban government. The case of the Cuban Five becomes rallying cry for the Havana government. Relevant UN Treaties and Events: • Sixty-eight General Assembly, Plenary, 38th and 39th Meetings • A/RES/68/8 • A/RES/47/49 • A/RES/47/19 to A/RES/68/8 on the issue of ending the embargo Previous Attempts to Solve the Issue: The only events that have taken place and aim at the lift of the embargo are UN resolutions. Possible Solutions: Member States should encourage USA and Cuba to collaborate with each other and along with the United Nations, set yearly goals to advance towards free trade and improved democratic measures in Cuba. USA has tied to pressure foreign companies, (that is non-USA such as Spanish tourist companies) with legal sanctions in US courts for setting up businesses in Cuba, which falls under extraterritoriality. Thus, there is more evidence of US actions against 3rd nations, like Spain, than any actions against the US due to the US embargo. Member States could call for the US to not intervene in the bilateral economic relationships between Cuba and 3rd nations. Keep in mind the USA has no right to dictate economic accords between other sovereign nations. It is recommended that delegates look at other cases of embargos in history, such as those placed against Sudan, Iran and other Member States. If the USA begins to develop economic ties with Cuba, there may be a greater chance of influencing internal Cuban affairs through connections made. By seeing the benefits of open trade with democratic countries the Cuban population might wish to make a change in their government. Each nation has right to sovereignty; Cuba’s sovereignty should be respected by all nations, including the USA. Useful Links: http://cuba-embargo.procon.org/ http://www.fao.org/about/en/ http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/ga11445.doc.htm http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-12159943 Bibliography "CSME." CARICOM Secretariat Mission Statement. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2014. <http://www.caricom.org/jsp/secretariat/mission_statement.jsp?menu=secretariat>. "Cuba Embargo - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2014. <http://cuba-embargo.procon.org/>. "Cuba Embargo - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2014. <http://cuba-embargo.procon.org/>. "General Assembly Demands End to Cuba Blockade for Twenty-Second Year as Speakers Voice Concern over Impact on Third Countries." UN News Center. UN, 29 Oct. 2013. Web. Oct. 2014. <http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2013/ga11445.doc.htm>. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/pages/hrcindex.aspx>. "Timeline: US-Cuba Relations." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-12159943>.
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