The Cuban Trade Embargo: Step by Step

Last century, I took off for my summer vacation in New York City. Upon arrival, I remember my mom telling me my father was over at the Mission on 38th, so I headed downtown to see him.

It was early summer, beginning of July, days were getting longer and night's warmer in the City.

After entering the building over on Murray Hill I bumped into Abelardo Moreno, then Councilor at the Mission (Permanent Cuban Mission to the United Nations), in one of the halls on the way to catch the elevator leading to the Ambassador's office. Abelardo was in a hurry with a mound of papers in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other; I quickly said hi and as we were both traveling up to the top floor I asked, "what on earth are you doing so late in the day on a Saturday? Has somebody else decided to invade yet another sovereign state?!" Abe said no, and then went on to explain it was summer, and the gulf war was no longer on the table for Cuba as we were no longer members of the Security Council. Since it was summer and no one was going off on vacation to the Caribbean, my father was bored, and when he got bored he would find something for them to do. He said all of this in his classic ironic fashion with just the right amount of "I'm loving every minute of this." But what was this excess workload in the middle of the lethargic summer heat? Well, that's the funny part, or the punchline of the joke. He along with the Minister Councilor, the second Ambassador, and two younger third secretaries were gathering all the information my father was requesting in order to prepare a document that he would present to the General Assembly in the first week in September and would entitle: Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.

It was the summer of 1992, and so it all began.

Back in 1992 when this issue was first put forth it "won" a majority of abstentions (71), three votes against and 59 votes in favor of the resolution. We are now going on the 24th year that the United Nations General Assembly puts this resolution up for a vote. Since 1993, the balance flipped and votes in favor went in the triple digits, and abstentions in this century remain steady in the single digit margin, primarily 1, 2, 3. The one thing that has remained the same, just like the song, has been the votes against. Invariably swaying from three or four, to sometimes two and then back to three or four again.

Come the morning of October 27th of this year 2015, the UN will once again hear a speech from Bruno Rodriguez Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs. It will then hold the vote and a large screen will light up with the results.

What if this year there were to be an unprecedented surprise? The United States of America has in its Constitution something which provides for a very specific and clear separation of powers. Three branches of government such that no one person or group of peoples could ever again subject the nation to any form of tyranny. You have the Congress which is the legislative power that makes the laws, the Presidency which is the executive power which carries out the laws, and then the Supreme Court which evaluates the laws. Three groups that don't necessarily have to be in sync and as it turns out, next October 27th, they won't be.

Since the end of last year, President Obama has been stating on camera, where ever he goes, whenever asked about Cuba and the U.S., and when he spoke at the State of the Union -- he's probably even mentioned it to his cook at the White House -- that the U.S. Congress should do away with the Embargo against Cuba. His reasoning has less to do with the atrocity that the Embargo has been, subjecting the Cuban people to deprivations and hardships that go beyond reason; the Embargo has been qualified by many as the longest form of warfare against a sovereign nation in the history of the world. Granted, these have not been the arguments used by the president he adheres to Einstein's definition of insanity. Yet whatever the case, whether you do away with it because it's insane or inhumane, the gist is to do away with it.

Now, will the U.S. break with its forefathers system of government or should I say, put it to the test of true democratic principles of dissent? Will this presidency actually prove to the world that real democracy can actually happen? Will the executive instruct its Department of State to instruct its Ambassador to abstain during the vote next Tuesday?

It would be a first and definitely a vote, if not a political step, in the right direction.