Report on the effects of the blockade in advance of the UN vote

News from Cuba | Tuesday, 22 September 2009

With the UN General Assembly shortly to hold its annual vote on the US bolckade of Cuba, this summary provides an insight into the full extent of how the blockade functions and its brutal effects on the island.


Report by Cuba on Resolution 63/7

Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and

Financial Blockade imposed by the USA against Cuba

The economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba 50 years ago is the most elevated expression of a cruel and inhuman policy, lacking in legality and legitimacy and deliberately designed to create hunger, illnesses and desperation within the Cuban populace. Nothing has changed through ten successive US governments other than a tightening of this policy. Nothing essential has changed either since the new US government was inaugurated in January 2009.

With the absolute compliance with Resolution 63/7, adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 29, 2008, in a vote of 185 nations in favour and only 3 opposed, the government of the United States, far from lifting the economic, commercial and financial embargo it had imposed on the Republic of Cuba, has maintained in effect the laws, regulations and practices that sustain it. It has continued to reinforce the political, administrative and repressive mechanisms for it’s more efficacious and deliberate implementation.

The present US government has continued to rigorously apply the embargo against Cuba. It has made no declarations, not to mention taken any steps, directed towards the removal of the complex maze of laws and administrative regulations that make up the legal bases and the regulations of the embargo. Neither have the foundations upon which that policy has been erected been modified. This can be demonstrated by the laws and regulations described below.

?Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA). It was enacted as a war measure in 1917 in order to restrict trade with nations considered to be hostile. Subsequently, its application was expanded to authorize the president to regulate ownership transactions that involved any of its nationals in a foreign country, both in time of war as “during any period of national emergency declared by the president”. The first regulations of the embargo against Cuba in 1962 are based on this act.?Foreign Aid Act. By means of this act, enacted in 19671, the United States Congress authorized the president of that country to establish and maintain “a total embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba”. It also prohibited the granting of any aid to the government of Cuba.

?Export Administration Act (EAA). Adopted in 1979 as the result of the review of controls over exports. It authorized the president to control, in general, the export and re-export of goods and technology and, in particular, to restrict those exports that would contribute to the military potential of any country, detrimental to US national security.

?Cuban Democracy Act (CDA). More widely known as the Torricelli Act, it was signed into law by President Bush (father) in October 1992. With it, the US government reinforced economic measures against Cuba and provided normative support to the extra-territorial dimension of the embargo. It prohibited companies that were subsidiaries of US companies in third countries from carrying out transactions with Cuba or Cuban nationals and the entry into US territory, during a term of 180 days, of vessels from third countries that had put into Cuban ports, just to name a few of the restrictions.

?Cuban Liberty and Solidarity Act.Known as the Helms-Burton Act, it was approved by President Clinton in March 1996. It sought to discourage foreign investment and to internationalize the Cuban embargo. It codified the regulations of the embargo, limited the presidential prerogatives to suspend this policy and broadened its extra-territorial scope. It refused entry into the United States of executives of foreign companies (and their families) who had invested in “confiscated” property in Cuba and established the possibility of taking them to trial in US courts.

?Export Administration Act (EAA). Adopted in 1979 as the result of the review of controls over exports. It authorized the president to control, in general, the export and re-export of goods and technology and, in particular, to restrict those exports that would contribute to the military potential of any country detrimental to US national security.

?Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Among these, there is the prohibition on exports from the US to Cuba, other than exceptions that are specified in the regulation itself or those that are authorized by licenses issued by the US Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce. Said regulations are protected by the Trading with the Enemy Act and the Export Administration Act.

The extent of legislation and regulations mentioned above demonstrates, moreover, that there has never been such a wide-ranging and brutal embargo against a people like the one the US is maintaining against Cuba. On the one hand, this classifies as genocide by virtue of Section c of Article II of the Geneva Convention of 1948 on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and, on the other hand, as an act of economic war, according to the stipulations of the declaration regarding Maritime War adopted by the 1909 London Naval Conference.

The embargo against Cuba is not a bilateral issue between our country and the United States. The repeated extra-territorial application of US laws and the persecution against the legitimate interests of companies and citizens of third countries significantly have repercussions on the sovereignty of many other States.

Protected by this policy, sanctions continue to be applied on US and European companies that do business with Cuba. Persons who are ill in Cuba cannot in many instances benefit from new diagnostics, technologies or drugs, even though their lives depend on it because independently of the fact that these were products or were available in a third country, the embargo laws forbid that Cuba acquires even just one single component or program that comes from the United States.

According to very conservative figures, the direct harm inflicted on Cuba as a result of the embargo, until December 2008, surpasses 96 billion dollars, a figure that would reach 36 thousand 221 million dollars, if the calculation were to be made using today’s value of the US dollar. It is not difficult to imagine the progress Cuba would have been able to achieve and how much progress has been denied it if it hadn’t been for these 50 years of being submitted to this brutal economic war.

In open defiance of the growing demands both inside and outside the US that this policy be eliminated, the new American government has reiterated gain and again its intention to maintain the embargo against Cuba. US Vice President Joseph Biden declared: “The US will maintain the embargo as a tool to apply pressure on Cuba”.

In the chapters of this report, the real scope of the measures regarding Cuba adopted by the new US administration are sketched out and the repercussions of the embargo on Cuba between March of 2008 and April of 2009 are recorded.

Declarations made in the framework of the Summit of Progressive Leaders in Chile, March 28, 2009.

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