By: Kendall Zimmerman
As we approach the 2030 deadline for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, progress towards achieving SDG17 has been mixed. Geopolitical tensions and the rise of nationalism in some parts of the world have made it more difficult to achieve international cooperation and coordination. We need a major surge in concerted action to ensure developing countries have access to the financing and technologies needed to accelerate SDG implementation. One way to make progress towards this goal is to finally end the United States’ embargo on Cuba.
The embargo, which has been in place for 61 years, is outdated, ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba. While the sanctions were imposed with a reasonable purpose at the time, times have changed. Even when relations improved under Obama and then worsened again during the Trump era, we were still in a better position than when this blockade began. We need to move past the tensions of the past and focus on the climate catastrophe of the future.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals call for large global cooperation measures. Desperate calls for large global cooperation measures call for an exceptionally large response. We have failed to meet Goal 17 Target 16, which is to enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships, which mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries. We have withheld knowledge, expertise, technology, and financial resources to the developing nation of Cuba. However, we can make up for it in a big way that will have long ranging and wide-reaching effects; we can end the embargo on Cuba.
The travel industry is hindered by the tourism ban. It severely limits the businesses that Cubans have access to. The embargo affects what businesses Cuba can have the ability to trade with and what products may be available to them. They are unable to access many modern technologies because they come from American companies. This is a large step back – Cuba’s infrastructure, technology, banking, and so many other sectors are hindered by this problem.
While they have made positive strides in many different ways such as developing their own Covid vaccines because we denied them access to products, technology, and information that would have helped and made the process go faster, we have advancements that would change their nation if we opened relations to allow this. Especially now, amidst a large humanitarian crisis within Cuba, the end to the embargo could lead to improvements in the Cuban economy, better conditions for the Cuban people because of new trade and investment in the private sector, while easing tensions between our states and bettering our cooperation.
It may be difficult for some to even conceptualize Cuba and the U.S. working together due to their longstanding history of opposition to one another. However, the times we are operating in now call for collaboration-focusing on our shared humanity and using diplomacy to solve big problems. That is what we can accomplish by working alongside and uplifting those who have the same goals as us.
Americans report having more support for ending the trade embargo instead of keeping it in place. Across those polled, 67% of Americans were in favor of ending the embargo. Even 59% of Republicans are in favor of ending the policy. Furthermore, 70% of Americans believe these changes will positively affect the Cuban economy. It is time to listen to the American people and make the right decision.
Let us show the world that we are ready for change, that the time has come, and that we recognize the good we can bring to this situation. Let us seize the opportunity to build back better and demonstrate that together, we can achieve remarkable things.
About the Author
Kendall Zimmerman is an undergraduate student at the School of Diplomacy and International Relations, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Diplomacy and International Relations, set to graduate in December 2023. Her academic pursuits focus on human rights and international institutions, reflecting her passion for global cooperation. With prior experience as a peer advisor at Seton Hall, Kendall was inspired to explore interests in student services and educational policy. Post-graduation, she intends to attend law school, aspiring to become an educational law attorney, leveraging her background in diplomacy and international relations to contribute to educational equity and policy enhancement.