Sanctions – imposing a trade embargo in order to blockade an enemy and compel/force a change in behavior. Used as a tool, generally by a larger country on a smaller country, to force a regime change as an alternative to going to war. They are most frequently used to achieve domestic political gain.
Have they ever achieved their goal?
According to some analysts, they are rarely effective but are used anyway because a government simply doesn’t know what else to do. During Clinton’s presidential term, he imposed new sanctions on 35 different countries. Sanctions set the stage for making the US the world penal system, and arbitrarily yielding forty lashings for crimes that may or may not be proven. The true goal most times is to force slavery upon a nation as a new and improved regime is deposited with a goal of sucking dry the resources.
Sometimes we are successful in gaining the regime change that was the intent, but more often we are not. Because, it is no guarantee that the people want a regime change, it is simply understood that it is what we want. Regime change determines who will be an ally. An ally determines whether big corporations can sweep in and ravage what they want of the available resources. Those resources are sucked dry, the corporation leaves, and no one cares anymore about the regime. But the people. The country reverts to the way it was before only now they are in dire poverty as their resources/commodities have been completely depleted.
There is one time in recent history where sanctions have been stated to be a success; South Africa’s apartheid. Analysts have determined that this case worked for one reason, the sanctions were unilateral, everyone anted. Unless everyone agrees, some countries stand to benefit as they can freely trade, while the sanctioning country loses that market. This is repeatedly the case with the US.
Cuba was under sanction rule for more than fifty years. It ‘changed’ nothing. It simply left the country to fend for itself elsewhere. Estimates have it that the Cuba embargo translated into $1.2 billion of lost revenue for the US annually. That translates to 50 years x $1.2billion. What did we gain? What grand purpose did we serve? Castro is still President. The country is still a marxist/communist regime.
The average monthly wage is $19. Most Cubans work for the state. Every household is rationed a monthly supply of food and other staples at a ‘nominal cost’. Tourists are charged a completely different rate for goods than are Cubans. Despite the US sanctions, Cuba has continued to do business with Canada, Venezuela, The Netherlands, Spain, China and more recently, the EU. Cuba’s tourism is considered to be the third highest in the Caribbean.
So, have we really made them suffer, or have we lost valuable trade due to pride?
In 2008 it was stipulated that offshore oil reserves were estimated to be in the 20billion barrel range, putting Cuba’s reserves in the top 20 around the world. But they came up dry. Poof. In addition, the economy of Venezuela, Cuba’s main squeeze for oil, was teetering on collapse. Cuba had reaped some neat profits re-selling oil it received via subsidies from Venezuela. That stood to dry up and Cuba needed the income. Tourism had been great, but it could double simply by adding back the US. Backing up a bit, let’s take a closer look at Venezuela.
The precipitous drop in oil prices hit Venezuela hard given it was propping up their economy. Add to that the fact that Russia and Venezuela are trade partners and that the US has been trying and failing at a inciting a coup in Venezuela, and complications begin to sprout. Could there be a larger backdoor implication in suddenly opening ties with Cuba that would then isolate Venezuela and make them more susceptible to a ‘regime change’?
In 2010 with the nationalization of all oil, Exxon, Chevron, Conoco and Total were all pushed out of the mix. Not happy campers, they sought to lobby Congress to resolve this issue. But nothing was accomplished. After Chavez died in 2013, the US hoped to institute a president who was more ‘friendly’ toward the west, someone who would open up the drilling to western companies. Oil was the goal. Never enough, they wanted more! But that didn’t happen. Madura became president and instead chose to increase exports to China, Brazil, Equador, the Carribean and Cuba.
The oil reserves in Venezuela are considered the largest in the world. Exports of oil account for 95% of export earnings and 25% of GDP. With the chopping block coming down on oil to the tune of $50-$60, or about 55%, Venezuela is hurting. Enter US.
Cuba needs cheap oil. US wants Venezuela.
Re-opening the door to Cuba gives the US lost revenue and gives Cuba tourism. Pressuring Cuba to pressure Venezuela could be the agenda. It would appear that agenda could lose as Cuba is quite staunch in its loyalty – and why shouldn’t it be? While the White House has given a variety of reasons for imposing sanctions on Venezuela; human rights violations, democracy abuses, and my all time favorite – corruption, they certainly lack any real meat. I imagine those reasons could apply to every country in this world.
But then there is always room. You see, Castro is 88 years old! His successor, Diaz-Canel has been meeting with US representatives. Lest we forget, Ukraine’s Poroschenko was just a chocolate king before the US made him a deal…