Panelists speak on Cuba’s embargo

by John Carter

Cuba’s national baseball team takes on the Baltimore Orioles in Maryland today in a historic game, showing signs that relations between Cuba and the United States are improving.
However, there are many unresolved issues between the two countries that still need to be addressed, including a U.S.-imposed embargo, said a panel of experts Saturday afternoon.
The discussion on Cuban and American relations, held in Blegan Hall, 40 years after the Cuban revolution, was sponsored by Students for Cuba and The Minnesota Cuba Committee.
“Just because they (Cubans) think different, doesn’t mean they should be treated different,” said Minnesota Cuba Committee member Yuri Guerra, who introduced the panelists.
Patty Krech, a member of Students for Cuba and a College of Liberal Arts senior, organized the event. She said it is important to discuss Cuba’s struggle to preserve its culture and its fight to survive in the midst of a U.S.-imposed embargo.
Cuban activist Carolyn Lane talked about the major impact that the fall of the Soviet Union — which communist Cuba traded heavily with — and the tightening of the U.S. embargo in the late 1980s and early 1990s had on Cuba’s food production.
The embargo disallowed Cuba to trade important goods like medicine and food and thus led to a possible starvation problem. Sustainable agriculture, a new form of food production, has enabled Cuba to survive independently without the necessity of trade.
“Sustainable agriculture is an efficient, environmentally-friendly way to produce food,” Lane said.
Cuba’s ability to overcome the effects of the embargo and the country’s unique culture has been an encouraging sign of its independence.
Award-winning Cuban poet and novelist Pablo Armando Fern ndez believes that Cuba’s culture is an important part of its past, present and future.
But Fern ndez, who is also the leader of the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists, thinks Cubans are neglecting their culture. He said Cubans need to embrace their culture in order to pass it on to future generations.
“Culture is everything in life,” Fern ndez said. He added if it were not for culture, “we would be nothing.”
August Nimtz, University political science professor, said he wants the United States to lift the embargo, at least partially, as it has for Iran, Libya and Sudan. Recently, these countries have been permitted to trade food and medicine.
Nimtz said the embargo will be lifted, but it will take time. He added, however, that Cuba can still survive with the embargo.
A fourth panelist, Cuban Diplomat Johanna Tablada, was unable to attend Saturday’s discussion because of the baseball game. She was organizing the visas for the large number of Cuban delegates who were permitted to come to the United States for the historic event.
Monday’s game will mark the first time that a team from Cuba has played a major league team in the United States.