Barack Obama

Student Voices: Obama’s Ice Breaker: Why Thawing Cuba Out is a Promise of Change

Barack Obama

Barack Obama, photo courtesy: The Guardian

Despite Obama’s lengthy run in office coming to a close, the White House still holds a few power moves up its sleeve, with one of those moves renewing the connection with Cuba that was sealed off an astonishing 55 years ago, as of October 19th of last year. For those in need of a refresher, during Eisenhower’s Administration the United States placed a trade embargo on Cuba that prohibited commercial, economic and financial transactions between itself and the island nation. Food and medicinal exports were the only discrepancies within that embargo. Motivation for this action originated from Cuba’s regulatory purchases of armaments from the Soviet Union during that time. Following suit, the JFK administration expanded this embargo to include US imports from Cuba, pronouncing its finality in February of 1972 (Fabry, 2015). Fast forward 55 years and Cuba is still left out in the cold from grievances made decades ago. Yet slowly but surely, that embargo is being chipped away.

Among several of the changes that Obama has been credited for during the past eight years, this endeavor is a mutually beneficial effort for Cuban and American citizens alike, stretching further than allowing U.S. citizens to travel without formal permission.This gradual process places bigger advantages on the scales. For example, although Cuba may be a poverty stricken nation, their medical prowess rivals medical research in our native land. Stemming from the priority placed on medical care “as a birthright,” Cuba boasts some of the healthiest, longest living citizens on the planet. A feat that juxtaposes the economic stability within its borders.

With that said, let’s further examine what Cuba could bring to the table in a medical sense. CinaVax is a vaccine that can treat, as well as hinder, the growth of cancer cells in the lungs. Aside from the universal application this vaccine offers, this is especially beneficial to the US in lieu of research from the CDC that illuminates lung cancer as the most deadly form of cancer for Americans. CinaVax has virtually no side effects, making it a medical anomaly. In addition, the treatment costs as little as a single dollar for the Cuban government to create (Almendrala, 2016). Let that sink in for a moment — Cuba has the means of producing a vaccine that could save thousands, if not millions, that is potent yet safe for cents on the dollar. Experts validate these profound discoveries abounding in Cuba, and contend that this embargo merely serves as an obstacle to treatments that so many desperately need. According to the executive director of the Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, Pierre LaRamee, “All of these arcane rules and restrictions related to the embargo that are designed to block commerce with Cuba are keeping Americans from having access to these treatment opportunities” (Almendrala, 2016).

Cuba Blog

photo courtesy: The Guardian

Whatever the argument may be that stands in favor for this embargo — however valid it may appear to be, doesn’t hold water in the face of what Cuba can potentially offer us. It is time to bury the hatchet with Cuba. Recently, Obama announced that American dollars can and will be used in financial transactions with Cuba, as well as allowing “people to people” educational connections rather than group tours of Cuba (Almendrala, 2016). Although a valiant effort made, there is still much left to be thawed out with Cuba. And If we so continue to stonewall countries who have wronged us a half century ago, we are only hurting ourselves in the end.

Written by: Evan Alexander, Website Management.

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