Tomorrow, October 28, the United Nations General Assembly is voting on resolution 68/8 of the United Nations General Assembly entitled, "The need to put an end to the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba." The blockade has been in place since October 1960, almost two years after the triumph of the Revolution over U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, with more and more sanctions being imposed by the U.S. over the last 55 years.
Time and time again, the peoples of the world have said that they stand with Cuba and demand with greater unanimity and force each year that the unjust and illegal blockade be ended.
This is the 23rd consecutive year in which the General Assembly has voted on such a resolution and each year the resolution has passed with an increasing majority. Last year, 188 countries voted in support of the resolution; three U.S. protectorates abstained: Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau; only the U.S. and Israel voted against the resolution. In the report prepared for the upcoming vote on this year's resolution, Cuba points out that U.S. economic sanctions have cost it $3.9 billion in foreign trade over the past year, raising the overall estimate of the damage during the 55 years of the blockade to $116.8 billion.
The U.S. blockade against Cuba is part of a 60-year-old campaign to defeat the Revolution. The vindictiveness and revenge-seeking of the U.S. ruling circles and the counterrevolutionary forces in Miami make them blind to the fact that they cannot succeed because the people rise up time and time again to defend their right to sovereignty.
TML sends its warmest congratulations to the Cuban people, their leadership and the Revolution in advance of what is sure to be another resounding victory. In this issue, TML is providing updates and information about the effects of the blockade and the growing opposition to it.
Blockade Intensified Under President Obama
The U.S. blockade against Cuba has intensified during
President Barack Obama's administration with the increased persecution
of financial institutions that have business relations with the
island, Prensa Latina reports.
Andres Zaldivar, a researcher of the Center for the Study of Global Economy, said in an October 8 video conference on the blockade that the measures were part of the implementation of Obama's "smart power" policy.
From 2010 to 2014, 81 of the 130 extraterritorial actions carried out against Cuba were in the financial sector and 38 institutions were fined with the astronomical amount of more than U.S.$11.4 billion, he added.
He stressed that sanctions are imposed even on U.S. allies, like the recent U.S.$8.9 billion fine to the French bank BNP Paribas.
Obama's strategy includes financing the U.S. Agency for International Development in order to implement subversive programs through the use of new information and communication technologies, like the Cuban twitter project ZunZuneo.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government maintains its policy of hostility toward Cuba, because of its vindictiveness against Cuba for taking the reins of its destiny, deciding to act in the interest of its people without any interference from abroad, said Josefina Vidal, Director General of the United States department in the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Vidal also stated this policy is widely regarded as being useless to the interests of the United States. She added that there are numerous institutions, academic centres, politicians, religious leaders and businessmen that tell the government that this policy is outdated and must be changed.
Cuba reiterates the economic, commercial and financial blockade is a high priority in its policy for relations with the United States, said Vidal.
U.S. Experts Push for Normalizing Relations with Cuba
U.S. experts on October 8 recommended that their government begin to normalize relations with Cuba, eliminating some of the main elements of the economic embargo imposed by the U.S. in 1962.
The complete prerogative of the U.S. administration to make such decisions was emphasized in a video conference on the effects of the blockade on Cuba attended by experts from both the U.S. and Cuba.
"The president of the United States can not only rescind many of the elements of the embargo with very few exceptions, but he could also normalize relations with Cuba in all areas," said U.S. attorney Robert Muse.
Speaking from a panel discussion organized at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, Muse said that the U.S. policy toward Cuba is "abnormal" and there is nothing that would hinder a U.S. president from ending the embargo and normalizing relations -- it is simply a matter of "will."
"The next U.S. president could be Hillary Clinton and recently she said that she favours the normalization of relations with Cuba," commented Muse, and he went on to list the main steps in eliminating the current policy vis-a-vis Cuba.
The current extraterritorial application of the embargo, via sanctions on those who trade with the island, and removing Cuba from the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, would be top priorities, he said.
Meanwhile, academic and President of the Cuban Research Group Phil Peters said that although a specific figure is not known, trade between the two countries would increase and Cuba could start exporting tobacco and rum to the United States, along with "very qualified labour."
"It would have an impact in the very short term," said Peters, emphasizing that U.S. tourism to the island would grow by some 500,000 visitors quite quickly and there would be opportunities in the energy sector for U.S. companies.
U.S. Agriculture Coalition Forms to End
Seventy per cent of people in Cuba were born under the blockade.
Cuba's Special Education System has 982 teaching workshops, devoted to preparing the youth for their integration into society and the labour force. However, the restrictions imposed by the U.S. blockade impede access to the raw materials, supplies, new technologies, machinery, tools and instruments they require.
Such a situation, the report says, affects more than 22,872 students with special educational needs.
In the area of computer technology, the blockade denies access to the necessary tools to produce educational multimedia or to consult bibliographic references. The necessary licenses to access those resources require payment to U.S. companies a process hindered by the blockade.
In another example, the University of Cienfuegos was developing an academic exchange program with the University of Tacoma in Washington state, with excellent results. However, it was interrupted after the University of Tacoma's application to renew its educational activity licence was denied by the Treasury Department.
Speaking at a recent press conference, Lizardo García, Director of the Central Institute of Pedagogical Sciences, emphasized that it is the youngest generation of Cubans who suffer the most from the blockade's effects on education, and this is only mitigated by the efforts of the revolutionary state and the teachers who ensure that this basic human right is met.
The economic blockade against Cuba, which is not an abstraction, is a genocidal act, because it is not implemented against a government, but against an entire people, he added.
Cuba points out that it has established a comprehensive social protection program, which has eradicated hunger. The population's food security, closely related to the country's economic, social and environmental development is a strategic priority for Cuba. It has received international recognition for its achievements.
The U.S. blockade is a direct attack on the Cuban people's right to food as it sets up obstacles to Cubans' regular access to international food markets, including U.S. producers. This sector, because of its nature, continues to be one of the most sensitive of those affected by the blockade, states Cuba's report to the UN.
"Relocation of markets in order to import supplies for the food industry, some at a considerable distance, with the subsequent result of increasing costs and additional expenses for freight by sea, onerous exchange rates, due to the prohibition of using the U.S. dollar in transactions, among other things, are some of the principal adverse effects suffered in this sector," states the report.
Other effects include lack of access to modern agriculture technologies and equipment, including vaccines for livestock, all of which increases costs and decreases production.
According to sources from Cuba's Ministry of Culture (Mincult), it is estimated that from April 2013 to March 2014 the blockade has caused damages to Cuba's cultural industry -- music, visual arts, literature, arts education and film -- in excess of $22 million.
The blockade affects promotion, dissemination and commercialization of Cuban arts, negatively impacts the price of cultural products and services and limits international consumers from enjoying Cuban music, given the control exerted by transnational arts and music companies, the majority of which are U.S.-owned.
Mincult statistics show that in regards to music, live performances by Cuban artists in the U.S. must be classified as cultural exchanges, excluding the possibility of commercial contracts. Thus Cuban companies do not receive any commercial benefit and the groups are prohibited from performing for commercial purposes during their visits.
Throughout 2013, the Cuban Music Institute planned various cultural exchanges and although the number of projects organized was similar to that of 2012, the quantity of musicians who travelled to the U.S. decreased. From April 2013 to March 2014 the U.S. government rejected 97 visa applications made by Cuban artists.
Another important aspect of the blockade on Cuban culture is its effect on Cuban artists' participation in the Grammy Awards. Submitting work for the competition is a complex and difficult process, given that there is no direct and legal way of safely doing it. For example, fee payments cannot be made from Cuba via bank transfer, a requirement all participants are obliged to meet.
The sale and promotion of Cuban art is subject to U.S. Treasury Department restrictions, despite the fact that the Berman amendment to the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act allows for the legal purchase of Cuban art.
In addition, the blockade directly affects arts education. The basic materials needed to train artists are consequently among the most expensive in the world. In addition, Cuban students and teachers are limited from participating in different events -- theatre, dance, ballet, visual arts and music -- which take place in the U.S.
Similarly, teachers and students linked to the Arts Education System are prohibited from visiting the U.S., in order to impede U.S.-Cuban exchanges in this field. This limits the possibility of exchanging methodological, educative and artistic ideas that could aid in the development of teaching techniques -- as well as obtaining financial resources which would allow Cubans to participate in such events.
In the field of sport, the report indicates, "The blockade policy continues to block and sometimes prevent direct and normal relations with different international sports institutions and the participation of athletes at important competitions that take place in the U.S. or in Cuba. The extraterritorial dimension of its measures also makes access to external financing more expensive and it hampers the acquisition of sporting equipment.
"In some cases Cuban sports teams have had to forget about acquiring top sporting equipment that is mainly manufactured by U.S. companies or, in the best of cases, resort to faraway markets to buy them at much higher prices.
"Despite this hostile policy, the Cuban Government has not stopped guaranteeing access to the practice of sports to all of its citizens. However, we must underline that the effects of the blockade are translated into daily shortages that affect development in that area."
The U.S. economic blockade has also had a strong impact on tourism, and particularly on cruise ships.
Cuban tourism authorities point out that the country is well-placed for this kind of tourism. On October 21, Aries Transportes S.A. general director Norberto Perez talked with the press about the efforts to develop this sector of the tourism industry.
Perez said Cuba has built docks for cruise ships in Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, and on the western beach of Punta Frances on Isle of Youth. However, these are underutilized due to the blockade, he said, referring to the travel ban from the U.S. to Cuba.
Of particular note is the effect of the 1992 U.S. Torricelli Act, which amongst other sanctions, dictates that "Any vessel which has traded goods or services with Cuba cannot within 180 days dock at a U.S. port." This affects ships of all kinds, and Perez noted that the economic damage it causes per year is U.S.$149,520,280.
Cuba estimates that from April 1995 to April 2013, the blockade caused a loss of U.S.$2.4 billion to the cruise ship industry.
The U.S. blockade is not just a bilateral matter, as it affects Cuba's relations with the world, said Deputy Director of Multilateral Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pedro Luis Pedroso in early October.
The Cuban diplomat explained that the U.S. laws that make up the blockade are aimed at preventing Cuba from having normal relations with other countries. "The blockade is extraterritorial and this nature is codified in laws like the Helms Burton Act and the Torricelli Act," he said.
Pedroso said that the international stand in the UN since 1992 to reject that U.S. policy makes its extraterritorial nature very clear -- it is in violation of UN member nations' sovereignty, international law, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and all regulations of the World Trade Organization.
Even in U.S. political and business sectors the blockade is considered an obsolete policy that must be lifted, Pedroso added.
In related news, in the lead up to the UN vote on
October 28, Houses of Parliament, foreign ministers, well-known
personalities and Cuba solidarity organizations around the world are
reiterating the just stand that the U.S. end its criminal blockade
(Cubasi, Prensa Latina)
For Your Information
Below is an excerpt from the report by Cuba, issued July 2014, on the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/8 entitled, "The Need to put an end to the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba."
The period being dealt with by this report was marked by a toughening of the genocidal blockade policy which for the past 55 years has been imposed by the United States Government on Cuba, ignoring the systematic and growing clamor of the international community to immediately put an end to it.
The United States' ever-increasing determination to reinforce the blockade's extraterritorial scope has been manifested particularly in the unprecedented harassment of banking-financial activity. Consequently, Cuba's normal progress in all spheres of economic, social, cultural and political life continues to be seriously blocked as we shall illustrate herein.
To bring about "hunger, desperation and overthrow of [the Cuban] Government" continues to be the declared purpose of the United States Government.
To achieve this goal it continues to avail itself of any method and channel. From the absurd and cynical inclusion of Cuba on the list the State Department unilaterally publishes every year of countries sponsoring international terrorism right up to the more subtle methods such as the subversive Zunzuneo project to which we will be referring further on in this report.
The complicated and multi-branched body of laws and political and administrative regulations that codify the blockade has not been removed. Much to the contrary: it has been strengthened and reaffirms its validity. The annual extension of the Trading with the Enemy Act, passed as a war measure in 1917 to restrict trade with nations considered to be hostile, is an eloquent example of this. On September 12, 2013, in his memorandum to the Secretaries of State and the Treasury, communicated by the White House, President Obama once again revealed his determination to keep his policy of aggression and hostility towards Cuba intact.
Cuba and the United States are not at war. Cuba has never launched any military aggression against the United States nor has it promoted acts of terrorism against the American people. It is unsustainable to justify the measures being taken under this ordinance.
As stated before, the blockade qualifies as an act of genocide by virtue of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 and as an act of economic warfare according to the declaration regarding the laws of naval war adopted by the Naval Conference of London of 1909.
The blockade inflicts important adverse effects on the material, psychological and spiritual well-being of the Cuban people and it imposes serious obstacles on its economic, cultural and social development.
By virtue of this policy, Cuba continues being unable to freely export and import products and services to or from the United States, it cannot use the U.S. Dollar in its international financial transactions or hold accounts in that currency in third country banks. It is also not allowed to have access to loans from banks in the United States, from their branches in third countries and from international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
This report has numerous examples of the economic damage caused by the blockade to the Cuban people during the period between April of 2013 and June of 2014. It also once again strips bare the extraterritorial scope of the cruel American policy designed to isolate a small country because it defends its sovereignty and its right to freely choose its future.
There is not one single sphere of economic and social activity of the Cuban people that is exempt from the destructive and destabilizing action imposed by this illegal policy.
The economic damage caused to the Cuban people because of the application of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba, considering the depreciation of the dollar in regards to the price of gold on the international market, totals 1,112,534,000,000 dollars in spite of the decreased price of gold as compared to the previous period. At current prices, during all these years, the blockade has caused damages for more than 116.8 billion U.S. dollars.
The blockade against Cuba must end. It is the most
unfair, severe and prolonged unilateral system of sanctions that has
ever been applied to any country. On 22 occasions, the General
Assembly, with an overwhelming majority, has declared itself to be in
favor of respect for International Law, compliance with the
Principles and Purposes of the United Nations Charter and the right of
the Cuban people to choose their own future for themselves. That must
To read the report in its entirety, click here.
1. Lester D. Mallory, "Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mallory) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom)," April 6, 1960, Department of State.
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