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Mexican President Vows Global Push To End ‘Inhumane’ US Embargo of Cuba

One peace group praised AMLO for "once again providing such an important voice against U.S. imperialism and bullying."

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador ,Photo by Christopher Sherman, Associated Press

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador vowed over the weekend to lead a worldwide movement to end the 61-year U.S. embargo of Cuba.

"We are going to continue demanding the removal, the elimination of the blockade against Cuba, which is inhumane," López Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, said Saturday in a speech attended by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

"And not only when it comes to voting at the U.N., which is always won. Only one or two countries abstain or vote against" annual resolutions condemning the embargo, AMLO continued, referring to the U.S. and Israel. "The majority of the countries of the world are in favor of the elimination of the blockade, but the assembly passes and it's back to the same thing."

"Mexico will lead a more active movement so that all countries unite and defend the independence and sovereignty of Cuba," said AMLO, who denounced Washington's attempts to treat the Caribbean island "as a terrorist country or put them on a blacklist of alleged terrorists."

Anti-war activists from CodePink praised AMLO for "once again providing such an important voice against U.S. imperialism and bullying."

Last summer, the Mexican president boycotted the Summit of the Americas, held in Los Angeles, due to the White House's refusal to invite officials from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to the meeting.

"Together with friends in Mexico and around the world, we will unblock Cuba," CodePink tweeted Sunday.

Following Obama-era efforts at normalization, former U.S. President Donald Trump intensified Washington's crackdown on the small island nation, implementing more than 240 punitive policies even as Cubans endured acute shortages of food and medicine amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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One of the Trump administration's most "despicable" actions, according to critics, was its last-minute decision to put Cuba back on the State Department's list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism" (SSOT), a move that has derailed the provision of economic aid and loans made by international financial institutions.

Despite Democratic lawmakers' pleas and President Joe Biden's own campaign pledge to reverse his predecessor's "failed" approach to Cuba, the White House imposed additional economic sanctions against the island following anti-government protests in July 2021 and has so far refused to remove the country from the SSOT blacklist.

Last month, a group of 160 mostly U.S. lawyers implored Biden to "immediately initiate a review and notification process to remove Cuba from the SSOT list," writing that "there is no legal or moral justification" for the country to remain on it.

That letter from the Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect came a few months after more than 10,000 people and 100 progressive advocacy groups signed an open letter demanding, to no avail, that Biden reverse Trump's terrorism designation for Cuba and reinstate Obama-era policy toward the nation.

Meanwhile, Cuba has continued to send doctors to various parts of the world to help tackle Covid-19 and other diseases. In defiance of more than six decades of harmful U.S. sanctions, the biggest export of the island, which has a lower child mortality rate than its more powerful and hostile neighbor to the north, is medical care.

On Saturday, AMLO thanked Díaz-Canel for sending Cuban doctors to provide healthcare in remote areas of Mexico.

Díaz-Canel, for his part, also expressed gratitude during his visit to Mexico's southeastern port city of Campeche.

"I once again thank our brother nation for its solidarity with the Cuban people, who have faced tremendously difficult challenges in the last few years and months due to a combination of the blows of nature and the effects of the toughened blockade," said Díaz-Canel.

Last summer, a few weeks after 55 House Democrats joined their Republican counterparts to defeat Rep. Rashida Tlaib's (D-Mich.) legislative attempt to make it easier for an economically battered Cuba to import food grown by U.S. farmers, the island was further devastated by a catastrophic oil fire.

Despite the best efforts of a handful of progressive lawmakers who urged the Biden administration to do more, the U.S. limited its disaster response to phone consultations and refused to repeal sanctions even as they created barriers to delivering humanitarian aid. Mexico, by contrast, dispatched firefighting resources to help contain the blaze.

On Saturday, AMLO awarded Díaz-Canel the "Order of the Aztec Eagle," Mexico's highest honor for foreigners. Previous recipients include Gabriel García Márquez, a Colombian novelist and Nobel literature laureate, and Nelson Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid organizer and eventual president of his country.

In addition, AMLO and Díaz-Canel participated in bilateral talks to outline plans for further cooperation on matters of trade and healthcare.

“The U.S. government should lift, as soon as possible, the unjust and inhuman blockade of the Cuban people," AMLO said Saturday. "It's time for a new coexistence among all the countries of Latin America."

The Mexican president argued that U.S. policy toward Cuba "is completely worn out, anachronistic, it has no future or point, and it no longer benefits anyone."

"Its people and government are deeply humane," AMLO said of the island nation. "Long live the dignified people of Cuba!"

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.