sábado, noviembre 04, 2006

Is the economic embargo responsible for the scarcity of food and medicine in Cuba?


Is the economic embargo responsible for the scarcity of food and medicine in Cuba? Absolutely not. Despite the U.S. embargo, Cuba can and does trade with the rest of the world. Any medicine or food that Cuba wishes to acquire can be obtained in Mexico, Canada or Panama, to mention only a few countries in geographic proximity with Cuba. In fact, acquiring medicines in Canada or Mexico is less expensive than buying them in the U.S. The medicines produced in the United States are on average 25% less expensive in those countries. In addition, the Cuban people lack even medicines that are produced in Cuba, such as aspirin, and antibiotics, because Castro exports them to countries like Nicaragua and Ecuador, thereby depriving the Cuban people. It is the same with food. To blame the embargo for the lack of food in Cuba is ridiculous. Food staples such as vegetables, pork, chicken and eggs that were in natural abundance in Cuba have declined markedly in Fidel Castro' centralized economy. His failed economic policies have ruined a previously prosperous nation. Farmers were stripped of land that now lies vacant and abandoned. The Minister of Agriculture himself recognized that 25% of the land is overrun with weeds. Farmers are not allowed to cultivate that land. To blame the United States and the embargo for shortages in Cuba is nothing more than a myth that has been propagated to hoodwink those who are not familiar with Cuba' reality.

Cuba's budget assigns an average of $4 million annually for importing medicines. In contrast, the European Union donates to Cuba approximately $10 million in food and medicine each year and the United States, the embargo notwithstanding, has donated nearly $472 millions in medicine to Cuba in the last ten years. With these quantities in donations, Cuban would have more than enough to satisfy internal demand. But, where are those medicines? They can be found in hospitals for the exclusive use of foreigners who pay for medical services in Cuba in dollars, and in hospitals reserved for the political elite of the country (when the average Cuban is prohibited from seeking medical care). Those exclusive hospitals and clinics do not suffer from medicine shortages. Medicines can also be found in stores that accept only dollars. The truth is that the Cuban people do not have access to that food and medicine because of Fidel Castro' discriminatory policies.

The Commercial Embargo of the United States. Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.