Guest columnist Eli Scholtz: “An embargo in the minds of the American people”



Posted: 7/7/2021 16:27:00

On June 23, for the 29th consecutive year, the vast majority of countries in the United Nations General Assembly voted for a resolution demanding an end to the US economic embargo against Cuba for half a century. Most people think it’s just an economic embargo on Cuba. But it is also an embargo on the minds of the American people, an embargo on our imagination at a time when the fate of humanity requires all our imaginative capacities.

What am I talking about ?

With the US economic blockade on Cuba, most Americans think they can’t get to Cuba. But my wife and I have been there several times.

Two of the most memorable trips were with Pastors for Peace. Every year, Pastors for Peace organizes a group of Americans to challenge the blockade by traveling to Cuba without a government license.

Pastors for Peace consider it their religious duty to “love your neighbor”. And since Cuba is one of our neighbors, any attempt to prevent them from coming to Cuba to provide aid would interfere with the free exercise of the religion of Pastors for Peace. As for being fired, Pastors for Peace says, “We don’t need a government license. Love is our license.

Some might call it “civil disobedience,” but Pastors for Peace founder Reverend Lucius Walker called it “civil obedience to an authority above the United States government.” Seeing Cuba with our own eyes, we began to realize the blockade in the minds of the people of the United States.

In Havana, we have visited on several occasions an institution, which was once a Cuban naval base, but which has been converted into ELAM, the Latin American school of medicine. At ELAM, 10,000 foreign students from “third world” countries study for free as guests of the Cuban government and people, study to become doctors, so that they can return and build health systems in their own. country. There are even American students studying for free with the understanding that they will return to the United States to practice medicine in underserved communities.

And ELAM is not an isolated example. On one of our trips, we visited an educational institution that had thousands of ‘third world’ students studying sports and physical rehabilitation in order to return to their countries and build programs in those countries. areas. It is worth recalling the words of Nelson Mandela: “What other country can show as much altruism as Cuba in its relations with the African continent?” How many countries in the world have benefited from the assistance of Cuban health workers and educators? Which country has ever asked for help from Cuba and been refused?

Now comes the imagination.

Imagine that we in the United States did something like what Cuba is doing. We have 30 times the population of Cuba and well over 30 times the economic resources of Cuba. Imagine that instead of wasting money on a new generation of nuclear weapons, we took the money we are spending on war and converted 30 of our military bases into medical schools and hosted 300,000 students from the ” third world ”to study medicine for free in order to return to their country and set up health systems.

How would that affect the feelings of people around the world towards the United States? What would that do for our “national security?” Can you imagine? Can you imagine yourself joining others to make it happen?

Dr Eli Schotz is a retired physician living in Cummingington and a member of the Franklin County Peace Task Force, pursuing political revolution and mass action for peace. He can be reached at [email protected]


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