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Mary McCarthy: A Story of the Blockade

Canadian Mary McCarthy has died. She was 108 years old, with nearly 50 spent suing different US governments to obtain the inheritance left her by her husband, a wealthy Spanish businessman settled in Cuba, who she met in 1924 at the Boston Opera House.

McCarthy did the opposite to her wealthy neighbours in 1959. When the majority left their mansions in Havana in a virtual stampede, sensing the winds of change from the dawning of the victorious revolution, she decided to stay on this island. She had no idea of what would follow.

It seems like a story out of a novel, but it isn’t. Thanks to the US blockade against Cuba the woman’s properties were frozen in a bank in Boston.

Her personal story is an example of what the blockade sought from its beginning; to break the will of the Cuban population out of desperation. It has had a high material and human cost for our people.

According to Reuters, the elderly woman’s case made the international news in 2007 when it was learned that the US Treasury Dept. had impeded her access to her bank accounts in the US. "She used plastic jewellery because the others, the real ones, were outside her reach in a safe deposit box in the United States," said the news item.

Mary McCarthy was born n 1900 in St. John’s, Terra Nova. She forged her love story and decided to live it in Cuba, where she founded the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra. Her husband died in 1951.

During the last two years, at the insistence of the Canadian government, the Bush administration allowed her, after much hassle, to obtain the sum of US $96 a month from her inheritance.

When bidding her farewell at the Colon Cemetery where her remains rest with those of her husband, Canadian Consul Mark Burger said, "McCarthy was perhaps the best promoter of friendship between the peoples of Cuba and Canada."

When I read the news about her death, I thought that Mary McCarthy is also another victim of a policy that hasn’t brought this nation to its knees and much less deny it its right to exist without owners or impositions.

When virtually all humanity says that such a cruel and absurd measure should be eliminated, Washington should call it quits. However, amid the international clamour, it continues to swim against the current.