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national academy of sciences Cuba and embargo

By: patty young
E-mail: cakes1104@aol.com

Cuba and the Affects of the Embargo The island nation of Cuba, located just ninety miles off the coast of Florida, is home to 11 million people and has one of the few remaining communist regimes in the world. Cubas leader, Fidel Castro, came to power in 1959 and immediately instituted a communist program of sweeping economic and social changes. Castro allied his government with the Soviet Union and seized and nationalized billions of dollars of American property. U.S. relations with Cuba have been strained ever since. A trade embargo against Cuba that was imposed in 1960 is still in place today. Despite severe economic suffering and increasing isolation from the world community, Castro remains committed to communism. (Close Up Foundation) The United States and Cuba share a long history of mutual mistrust and suspicion. All aspects of U.S. policy with Cuba, such as the current trade embargo, immigration practices, and most recently the possibility of a free exchange by members of the media, provoke heated debates across the United States. While most Americans agree that the ultimate goals should be to encourage Castros resignation and promote a smooth transition to democracy, experts disagree about how the U.S. government should accomplish these aims. Some believe that the countrys current policy toward Cuba is outdated in its Cold War approach and needs to be reconstructed. However, many still consider Fidel Castro a threat in the hemisphere and a menace to his own people and favor tightening the screws on his regime even more. (Close Up Foundation) For almost forty years, the United States has not imported any Cuban products, nor allowed any American food, medical supplies, or capital to enter Cuba. President Clinton, like each of his predecessors, supports the trade embargo. Two recent pieces of legislation have tightened the economic restrictions on Cuba. (Close Up Foundation) The Cuban Democracy Act, passed by Congress in 1992, further isolates Cuba from the world economy by prohibiting any foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with the country. The bills goal was to cripple the Cuban economy in order to bring down Castro within weeks, according to the bills primary advocate Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). The Helms-Burton Act states that American citizens can sue foreign investors who utilize American property seized by the Cuban government. In addition, those who traffic in this property or profit from it will be denied visas to the United States. Supporters of the legislation believe that prohibiting foreign investment will quicken Castros downfall. (Close Up Foundation) Many debate on the issue of why the U.S. should or shouldnt keep the ebargo against Cuba. These debates deal with the effects of the Embargo on Cubas economy, humanitarian rights and health of the people of Cuba. The embargo today places a ban on subsidiary trade, Licensing, shipping and humanitarian aid. (Close Up Foundation) In 1992, the Cuban Democracy act imposed a ban on subsidiary trade with Cuba. This ban restricted Cubas ability to import medicines and medical supplies from third country sources. There have also been corporate buy-outs and mergers between U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies thus adding to the number of companies permitted to do business with Cuba. Under the Cuban Democracy Act, The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments are allowed to license individual sales of medicines and medical supplies, supposedly for humanitarian reasons to make up for the embargos impact on health care delivery. According to the U.S. corporate executives, the licensing provisions are so tough as to have had the opposite effect. With this statement, it is assumed that there are fewer licenses given out for humanitarian reason therefore favoring the embargo and aiding in the downfall of health in Cuba. Since 1992, the embargo has prohibited ships from loading or unloading cargo in U.S. ports for 180 days after delivering cargo to Cuba. This has discouraged shippers from delivering medical equipment to Cuba. Due to this, shipping costs have risen and further constricting the flow of food, medicines and medical supplies to Cuba. Another result of this is Cubas increased spending on shipping medical imports from Asia, Europe and South America rather than from the neighboring United States. Charity hasnt been ... more

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Marine Contamination




According to the United Nations Joint Group of Experts on
the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP) of 1972,
marine pollution is ?the introduction by man directly or indirectly,
of substances or energy to the marine environment resulting in deleterious effects such as harm to living resources, hazards to human health;  hindrance of marine activities including fishing, impairing the quality for use of sea water, and reduction of amenities?(Clark 3).  Since the beginning of modern civilization, man has  continuously  polluted the oceans.  As more and more pollution entered the  Earth?s oceans and problems became evident, man has been given the obligation to prevent further damage. Sewage, marine debris, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, oil, and radioactive materials constitute six major categories  of marine pollutants that mankind needs to prevent from entering  the worlds oceans.  
Sewage has a short lifespan, it decomposes due to microscopic organisms like bacteria and fungi.  However, in the respiration process microorganisms consume oxygen, creating ?biological oxygen demand?(Johnston 56). If  there is too little oxygen in the water to support the biological oxygen demand for these biodegraders, they die and so do all the plants and animals that depend on them for food.  When raw sewage is dumped into an area without strong currents to disperse it, the oxygen is likely to be used up.  When this happens, the only form of decomposition that can take place is anaerobic which takes a very long time. This process is called eutrophication (Clark 5).  When nutrient rich sewage enters the ocean, an extreme overgrowth of toxic phytoplankton. This process causes what is known as red-tides that kill many forms of marine life.  
Marine debris is another form of pollution that is a major threat to the earth?s oceans.  Marine debris consists of discarded plastic,  glass, and metal that does not easily decompose.  Some debris  such as abandoned ships and old cars that sink attract fish because they form artificial reefs.  Some artificial reefs have been purposely made by humans out of sinking marine debris for the sole purpose of providing sea life with an ecosystem.  The pollution problem is more centered around floating marine debris such as plastic.  Because plastic floats it constitutes a threat to sea birds and mammals who either eat it or become entangled in it.  Each year 30,000 northern fur seals as well as hundreds of thousands of other marine animals die due to being entangled in discarded plastic(Johnston 63).  These plastics when eaten  can lodge in the intestines and stomach to block the digestive tract to cause malnutrition and death.  Not only does marine debris effect sea life, but humans as well.  Marine debris interferes with ship navigation and litters beaches along coastal water.  
Toxic chemicals are extremely hazardous to the oceans.  Three of the most deadly chemicals are constantly running off land into water. These chemicals; DDT, PCBs, and dioxins belong to a family of industrial and agricultural chemicals that do not brake down easily in our environment.  When these chemicals enter the ocean they are first absorbed by phytoplankton and zooplankton.  These planktons are an important part of a fish?s diet, therefore; fish eat them and the toxic chemicals are stored in the fish?s fatty tissue.  Because fish are low on the food chain, each time the toxic chemicals are passed on from predator to predator the concentration gets higher.  High concentrations of these chemicals cause premature birth ,  birth defects, nerve damage, learning disabilities, and remain in the fatty tissue of marine animals.  
Another major pollutant found in our oceans is heavy metals.  Heavy metals are dense elements such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.  Each of these elements has a different and harmful effect on sea life.  Lead can make fish toxic for consumption and create more lead in the food chain.  In animals,  lead causes delayed development of offspring, nervous system disorders, and learning disabilities.  Mercury is very toxic, even in low concentrations.  It disrupts the central nervous system functions in animals.  Mercury is extremely dangerous because mixed with other pollutants, the toxicity can be very deadly.  Cadmium becomes toxic to sea animals by eventually replacing the calcium, thus making bones fragile and easily broken.  
Oil as ocean pollution  has been ... more

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