Latin American Leaders Demand U.S. Lift the Cuban Embargo
Without a doubt the biggest news was the unanimous endorsement by the UN Security Council, with President Obama presiding, of a broad strategy to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them from the planet.
"This is a historic moment, a moment offering a fresh start toward a new future," said the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Similar words have been uttered before, but seldom have they sounded so truthful.
Nevertheless, many other issues were also on the world leaders' agenda. Along with speeches opposing the posting of U.S. military personnel in seven Colombian army bases and multiple calls for restoring democratically elected Manuel Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras, several Latin American heads of state demanded the lifting of the economic embargo the people of Cuba have been subjected to for half a century.
Their position was not new. All had called on President Obama to end the draconian measure last June at the Organization of American States' annual assembly in Honduras.
Here in New York, it was Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva who issued the first plea for abolishing the blockade (as they call the embargo in Cuba), calling it an "obsolete measure."
Uruguay's president, Tabaré Vázquez, also expressed his country's desire for a new policy. "As Americans" [that is, all people born on the continent], he said, "we feel the ethical duty and the political responsibility of reiterating in this world forum that we will persevere in our effort for an American integration without exclusions, exceptions or blockades like the one Cuba is suffering."
Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, pointed out that in order to change the world for the better, first "we must change the UN and end the blockade to Cuba."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a friend of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, also asked that the embargo be lifted, a demand he restated Thursday night during a one-hour CNN interview with Larry King.
"As we asked him in June, Obama should break the embargo already," Chávez told King, referring to the OAS meeting.
The opposition to the failed embargo policy goes beyond Latin America. In what could be a record, the General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for 17 years in a row to urge the U.S. to lift the anachronistic embargo.
The time is long overdue for Congress and President Obama to heed the world's opinion and toss the failed embargo into the ash heap of history. That would really be in sync with his administration's policy of engagement with and mutual respect for Cuba, Latin America and the world.
On a different matter
Dan Stein, president of the largest anti-immigration group in the country, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, took exception with my Sept. 17 column. He sent me a polite e-mail expressing concern and asking the following statement to be published. For the sake of fairness, I agreed to do so.
"FAIR states that there is no proof of any kind that any activity undertaken by FAIR has contributed to an increase in hate crime or any incidence of hate crime. This is an outrageous and irresponsible assertion."
Source: Daily News