A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Vietnam and China are countries led by communists but they are not anti-US like Cuba is. That is the reason why this Caribbean island should be placed in the pantheon of nations under the most rigid trade controls.

That was the explanation given by US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez, addressing the United States Wheat Association (USW) to its board meeting in the capital of that country on February 12, 2008.

Gutiérrez, Cuban by birth, and taken to the United States at the age of 7 shortly after the revolutionary triumph of 1959, is one of a group of leaders of that national origin known as the Batista followers due to their ideological identification and, in many cases, family ties, with politicians and military associated with the Fulgencio Batista tyranny which, with strong US support, washed Cuba in blood during the greater part of the fifties of last century.

In 2004 he was named Commerce Secretary in the cabinet of George W. Bush who also named him co-president, together with Condoleezza Rice, of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. (CAFC). That Commission prepared the second version of the Bush Plan with measures aimed at overthrowing the Cuban government and returning the island to its previous semi-colonial

Gutiérrez tried to argue the idea that Cubans do not want friendship with the United States. “I know that this sounds dramatic… but Cuba is essentially an anti-US country. This is not noted when visiting there and are wined and dined but since the early 60s the scenario in Cuba is one of a world without the United States. It is difficult to do business with a county that wants to see one disappear”, he assured his skeptical listeners.

“They don’t want our friendship but blame us of all the problems of their country”, he assured. “Cubans say that the poverty of the island is caused by the embargo, not because they spend all their money on defense and complain that the Central Intelligence Agency has agents spread out in the island, as a reason given for the arrest of political dissidents and imposing a police state.”

The subject of trade with Cuba is a ticklish issue for the USW, whose Executive Board president, Ron Suppes, a grain farmer from Kansas, recently wrote an article which declared that the “embargo” has little political sense since it damages the majority of US citizens and seriously damages the ordinary Cuban.

Suppes wrote his article upon his return from Cuba where he observed that US wheat was highly appreciated and that friendship was genuine. In his opinion, the US blockade policy pushes Cuba to find economic interests with countries that are not friends of the United States, in clear reference to Bolivarian Venezuela headed by Hugo Chavez.

The Commerce Secretary and close collaborator of President George W. Bush was not very convincing according to political commentators. Scott Yates, who covered the event for Capital Press of Spokane, Washington, specifically pointed out when he said that a pre-requisite for lifting the blockade of Cuba is a change in its leadership.

“I know that you are not satisfied with this but a change is just around the corner. The pre-requisite is a change at the top. When Fidel Castro is no longer head of Cuba … the situation will change.”

About 46 years ago, as of February 2, 1962, President John F. Kennedy made the blockade official. It had really begun since January 1, 1959 from the moment of the flight of the US-backed tyrant.

Already in July 1960, President Eisenhower had decreed a reduction of the Cuban sugar quota. That refers to the quantity of sugar importers could acquire, as the main export product of Cuba, then the basis of its economy.

After the “embargo” was made official, it initially excluded “for
humanitarian reasons”, some food products, medicines and medical supplies”.
That gradually increased, prohibiting the purchase of Cuban merchandise or products from third countries which used Cuban raw materials. Special requirements were also added requiring specific approval for any export to Cuba of food and medicines.

Far from weakening since the end of the Cold War in 1991, which render almost all the arguments used to justify the blockade obsolete, it has been strengthened to grotesque proportions.

For 14 consecutive years the United States has suffered humiliating
condemnation from the international community of nations. It almost
unanimously, calls on Washington to lift the economic blockade. The United States is only accompanied by the Marshal Islands and Palau (two of its protectorates) and Israel which, however, does not follow the policy of sanctions against the island since it maintains economic ties.

In an article published on February 3, 2008, one of the most hostile
newspapers against Cuba in the United States, the Miami Herald, journalist Don Bohning acknowledged that “in recent years the debate on the embargo has crossed some lines in the parties, when Republican congress persons and state and local officials, mostly from the agricultural states have met – unsuccessfully- with the Democrats to put an end to it”.

It is evident that the political cost of maintaining the blockade of Cuba grows constantly instead of decreasing. The arguments used by the Commerce Secretary and co-president for the annexation of Cuba, that it should be maintained because Cubans are not friendly and because Cubans use the blockade to repress its opponents, are highly contradictory. Such arguments demonstrate the anachronistic nature of the blockade as well as its indefensible character.

During the periods in which the White House called for a policy of
interchange between peoples with the declared purpose of influencing Cubans in favor of a US model of “democracy”, the Cuban government openly accepted the challenge. It was demonstrated that it was the Cubans who offered a sincere and friendly treatment to all foreign visitors because it is backed up by its morality and reason. That was why the administration of George W.
Bush felt itself in need to suspend people-to-people exchanges.

Los Ángeles, California
"Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"