I have often wondered what would become of economies like those of some countries in South America if a country like the United States decided to close its borders and those of its allies to quasi-routine trade processes.
The truth is, I am sure that many would find themselves completely defenseless against the government to the north. Worse yet, it is certain that many of the governments of the continent subjected to this type of blockade would be buried in nonsense as they sought to open negotiations with the superpower to the north, seeking to reopen doors or to be allowed just a small space in the corner of its market.
On the other hand, it is useful to note that the paternalism with which the United States has been taking on the economy (using trade as a strategy) and the territory of South and Central America dates back a long time. The Monroe Doctrine is evidence, introduced as early as 1823 by President James Monroe, with the famous phrase “America for the Americans.”
What at first seemed to be continental chauvinism was nothing less than a pronouncement to alienate Europeans, so this declaration is better understood to mean “America for North Americans.”
Trade, the basis of the current world economic system, represents the main incentive for countries to improve their production and productivity levels, and to pursue the reckless idea of going after increasingly large markets — with additionally complicated demands.
Many of these demands are related to safety and security measures for incoming products, but many are also related to a natural protectionism that seeks a reasonable space for national products within the local market.
Defining the respective percentages that should be allotted to imported products as opposed to domestic products, however, is complex. In most countries this has been left to a powerful and invisible hand. In the end, it is the market that decides which products will survive this fierce battle, whether or not producers are artisans with precarious means of production whose only form of subsistence is the sale of a certain product. Or there may be a multinational corporation that sees itself as having no need for a certain market, that has no choice but to look for more desirable prey.
According to World Bank data, world trade in 2018 reached $19.4 trillion, while Latin America and the Caribbean garnered the modest sum of $1.13 trillion, which shows that the Spanish-speaking region does not represent even 0.5% of world trade. Only the United States has succeeded in more than doubling the volume of trade of all the countries in the region, reaching $2.54 trillion.
The data we have on trade in Cuba is that in 2018, it would have reached $8.8 billion, or 0.07% of the trade of Latin America and the Caribbean. This percentage is largely due to a blockade that began with the sugar embargo in 1959.
That was the year that Cuban Revolution became known to the world, and the major foreign companies in Cuban territory were nationalized — among them the refineries — which infuriated Washington. At the time, its principal priority was to protect the continent from the influences of the former Soviet Union, the main threat to the U.S. interventionist plan.
For the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, trade relations with the U.S. are, in many cases, essential. For example, in the case of Peru, in 2018, 36% of its hydrocarbons, 32% of its agriculture industry and 49% of its textiles and garments were acquired by the home of the Statue of Liberty.
That reference by renowned Pink Floyd musician, Roger Waters, made to explain the latest events in Cuba perfectly demonstrates how the facts have been distorted. It describes a quasi-dictatorial Cuban government and a U.S. that is concerned about the citizens of a country not its own.
The occupation of Cuban territory has been planned for decades, but it has always seemed that there was “concern” for those who live on the island, people who obviously have many needs.
But they are needs resulting from the economic-commercial strangulation of their country, the main purpose of which is to consecrate Wall Street corporations as the new owners of the island of enchantment.