Review: “Everyday Neoliberalism in Cuba”
June 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
In “Everyday Neoliberalism in Cuba,” author Harrison discusses the effects of the US embargo on everyday lives of Cubans. The embargo was implemented to compel the Cuban government to adhere to U.S ideals of democracy and capitalism, and is thus seen by America as a necessarily evil, punishment intended to force Cuba to change for the better. But Harrison argues that the embargo is a tool to pressure Cuba into complying with the U.S hegemony that, partnered with existing sexist and racist sentiments already in existence, causes great hardships in the lives of ordinary citizens, in a country where the U.S ideals promoted are not necessarily even the most appropriate.
Due to preexisting racial and sexual inequality, Afro-Cubans and women have been most harmed by the embargo. The embargo has caused the Cuban economy to suffer greatly, forcing many Cubans to find work outside the country to support themselves and family back home. However, most members of the Cuban-American diaspora are white, which advantages only the white Cubans as they can depend on family overseas for resources. Cuban women are also handed the task of caring for the household and children, resulting in the perception that working women are not as able or committed as their male counterparts. Thus, women are often the first to be laid-off or denied self-employment licenses, forcing many women to turn to prostitution. Afro-Cuban women face racism even in the prostitution industry. Though they are often the object of male tourists’ sexual fetishes, Afro-Cuban women are barred from hotels, restaurants, and clubs where they may socialize with clients and are instead force to solicit on the streets.
The American government and its citizens have long believed that our ideals of democracy and economy are the best in the world, and it is in everyone’s best interest if we preach our principles to every country. Harrison shows us that by excessively intervening in other countries, America often does more harm than good for the average citizen. American efforts to “help” these people only leads to violations of their basic human right.