More news from an embargoed island
Every year at about this time, the Castro regime trots out one of its functionaries to speak to the foreign media in Havana about the “imperialist blockade” – what you and I know as the commercial embargo the United States imposed on the island over 40 years ago.
This year, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez, released figures showing that the embargo is supposed to have cost Cuba about $US4 billion in lost trade during 2005 - twice the previous year's amount.
They are made up figures, of course, and largely meaningless. But they serve their purpose as a clever Public Relations tool - media outlets around the world publish them without question.
You see, the reason the figures are unveiled with much fanfare in Havana is because at about this time every year, the UN debates the embargo – and without fail, the vast majority of its members vote for the embargo to be lifted.
The vote is always protrayed by the Castro regime as a huge political victory, which it is.
Now, this is not the place to get into an argument about the effectiveness or otherwise of the embargo. Others have done so much better than I could, including the guys over at Babalu and Cuban American Pundit.
But what the Western media inevitably fail to report is that:
1. The embargo does not cover food or medicines exported from the US. Thus, the US is now the largest exporter of food to Cuba. That trade alone is worth an estimated $US500 million a year.
2. The Castro regime is and has always been able to trade with any and every other nation in the world, including Australia.
Coincidentally, there is a report today by the official Cuban newsagency, Prensa Latina, discussing economic and technology ties between Cuba and Canada.
That report confirms that Canada is now Cuba’s third-largest trading partner. And the fourth-largest foreign investor, with more than $US750 million tied up in the island nation.
In other words, the embargo has more holes than a chunk of processed Swiss cheese.