Nuclear free, smoke free, predator free, Covid free…to save the careers of MPs and cabinet ministers it seems we also need to be sex free.
Meanwhile, for those of a left liberal inclination there remains the problem of Cuba, a country for whom the predator problem is of pressing importance because the US has imposed a stringent economic blockade ever since the revolution. There’s no more vicious predator than a bourgeoisie whose economic urges have been negated. As trade and financial transactions have been made as difficult as possible it has cost the Cubans billions of dollars. Obama tinkered with it, as was his want – when he wasn’t killing people by drone strikes (empathy doesn’t extend far) – but Trump has imposed it ever more stringently.
Every year the UN Assembly, opposed only by the US and Israel, votes to judge the embargo illegal. NZ diligently votes for the motion, but – here’s the rub –does nothing to back it up. The local commercial sector with its ties to the States whether by banking or trade, avoids the sanctions by obeying the blockade and having nothing to do with Cuba. The embassy and its staff are refused a bank account – even an eftpos account. A local importer of Cuban coffee cannot process the necessary transactions except by operating via a European country, which adds significantly to the cost. A NZ resident can’t send a donation to a Cuban school… and the government does nothing. It could, like some European governments, pass a law making it illegal to apply the sanctions within our territory. The banks and companies would then have a safety net if penalised by the US. The US could well be outraged and even cancel our naval participation in the current war games aimed at China. That would be a tragedy?
But at least we wouldn’t be hypocrites. And our current hypocrisy should be a matter of concern. It should be noted that Cuba, a poor country, still managed to send medical teams to countries in need, causing apoplexy in the Trump administration. Have we been similarly generous or internationalist? Commentators point out how drastically Covid is affecting and will continue to affect developing world countries. Here’s Fatima Hassan, South African Civil Rights Lawyer talking about the impossibility of a successful First World Covid response in South Africa. ‘That science and that evidence is a First World science and evidence. It’s designed for countries where people can stay at home and work from home, where they have secure employment. It’s designed for countries where there is sufficient socioeconomic rights protection and benefits if you are unable to go to work. It’s designed for countries that can socially distance, where you don’t have thousands of informal settlements that are densely populated. It’s designed for countries where there’s proper sanitation, where there’s running water for every single person, where there’re secure food supplies…’ The UN has calculated that justice for the developing world in the current situation will cost 10% of the GDP of the First World. At the moment we contribute 0.2%; the US 0.15%. Sweden is the most generous with 1.36% followed by Norway with 1.14%.
When it comes to the number of refugees a country is giving shelter to per thousand inhabitants: Chad 30; Jordan 89; Lebanon 208; Sweden(once again the most generous developed country) 14; NZ 0.3.
Unfortunately this conversation is not part of our Covid response. Instead we’ve adopted a ‘God’s Own Country’ mantra, safe, wealthy and self congratulatory behind our borders.