The United States imposed a partial trade embargo on Cuba in the early 1960s. Often referred to as el boqueo in Cuba and Latin America, this trade embargo became much stronger and permanent after the Cuban Revolution, when Fidel Castro came to power, and after his regime nationalized properties own by American citizens and corporations.
The purpose of the Cuban Democracy Act, or el boqueo, has been to maintain sanctions on Cuba until there is clear evidence that Cuba is moving peacefully towards democracy and valuing international standards of human rights. Since the election of President Barack Obama, however, there has been much discussion about repealing the Cuban Democracy Act, permitting American citizens to travel to Cuba, and inevitably engaging in diplomatic aerobics to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States.
Perhaps Cuba has taken some toddler steps towards democracy, but Cuba sprints like Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, to the finish line to keep bad company with countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uganda to deny international standards of human rights to certain individuals. Just last month, Cuba voted in support of a United Nations resolution which protects the rights of countries to kill individuals solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Make no mistake. The United States must not repeal the Cuban Democracy Act for if we do, we, in turn, become accomplices to a serious breach of human rights by engaging in normalizing relations with a nation that supports the killing of individuals solely on the basis of their sexual orientation.