The blockade causes losses of more than $1.8 billion every year
Campaign News | Sunday, 3 October 2004
Cuban report details crime of US foreign policy
Presented to the press, Cuba’s report is to be put to the vote at the UN General Assembly on October 28 under the title “The need to end the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States of America.”
BY ELSON CONCEPCION PÉREZ Granma daily staff writer
AN exhaustive explanation - including information dating back to February 6, 1959 when the United States appropriated the $424 million stolen by Batista’s cronies that was taken to the northern nation, from where it never returned, up to the latest measures adopted by the Bush administration in its eagerness to destroy the Cuban Revolution - was given by Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque yesterday, when he presented to the national and international press the report that Cuba has handed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a basis for the vote scheduled for October 28.
There were also contributions relating to the effects of the blockade on our country from Culture Minister Abel Prieto, artists, scientists, nickel and oil workers and, particularly, two blind children from the Abel Santamaría Special School, who acknowledged that the Revolution has provided everything for their education and for that reason, they too are demanding an end to the blockade that damages them and all Cuban people.
In the face of the emotional words from just two of the 50,000 children with learning difficulties who attend 428 special schools throughout the country, the foreign minister affirmed that “they will never be able to blockade hope.”
The document - entitled “The need to end the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States of America” - brings together an infinite number of elements corroborating the genocidal nature of the laws that have been applied by the last 10 U.S. administrations and that, today, George W. Bush is making even more cruel, with the sole objective of asphyxiating the Revolution and reducing our people to starvation.
In the sequence of events summarized by the Cuban foreign minister, we can see that on June 24, 1959 - just five months after the triumph of the Revolution - the U.S. State Department convened a meeting to direct that the U.S. government should immediately assume a very firm position against the Agrarian Reform Law and its implementation, and decided that the best way to achieve the necessary result was by using economic pressure.
On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, deputy secretary of state for inter-American affairs, stated that the majority of Cubans supported Castro and there was no effective political opposition on the island. He cynically announced that the only visible means of alienating support was through disenchantment and discouragement based on dissatisfaction and economic need. He suggested that any conceivable means should be employed to weaken the Cuban economy, refuse the country money and supplies, in order to reduce wages with the aim of causing hunger, desperation and the defeat of the government.
In this way, the criminal blockade officially came into being, using the weapon of hunger and desperation as objectives to defeat the Revolution.
Amongst other details, between 1960 and 1961, the U.S. government suspended operations at the Nicaro nickel plant, cancelled the sugar quota completely, broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba and organized, financed and directed the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961.
NEW AND ADDITIONAL CRIMINAL ACTIONS
One Yankee maneuver at the OAS in 1962 led to the breaking of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the majority of Latin American countries (with the exception of Mexico).
On March 24 of that same year, the U.S. Treasury Department approved one of the measures that has most damaged our country over the last 40 years: prohibiting the entry onto U.S. territory of any product totally or partially manufactured using raw materials of Cuban origin, even from a third country.
In July 1963, the regulations relating to Cuban assets came into force, preventing all transactions with Cuba and freezing Cuban assets within the United States. Of the money that was illegally confiscated, $96 million was handed over to extreme right-wing counterrevolutionaries in order to finance their terrorist activities against the island.
Increasingly genocidal steps continued to be taken and, in May 1964 the U.S. Department of Trade implemented a total prohibition of food and medicine exports, although nowadays this practice no longer applies.
It should be remembered that with the objective of defeating the Revolution and imposing neocolonial domination once again, the economic damage caused by the blockade now exceeds $79.325 billion and has meant that seven out of every ten Cubans was born and has lived beneath this criminal policy, and has had to suffer the shortages and limitations that it imposes on the people.
Besides this, the blockade’s extraterritorial nature - namely, forcing firms and citizens from other countries to comply with U.S. laws - is a violation of international law.
The document presented yesterday in MINREX detailed eight prohibitions laid down by this cudgel policy. Cuba cannot make any kind of sales to the U.S. business sector. If that was a possibility, in 2003 it could have sold 604,00 tons of sugar worth $196.25 million; 35,000 tons of nickel at more than $450 million; 2,000 tons of cobalt worth a further $75 million; and $118 million in twist and leaf tobacco, representing just 35% of our total exports in that sector.
Cuba is likewise unable to import from the United States and thus, having been forced to do so from more distant countries, the island has suffered losses totaling more than $18 billion up to 2003.
Our country is prevented from receiving U.S. tourists. Thus, using conservative calculations, around 6.5 million U.S. tourists have been unable to visit the island in the last five years. That would have signified an income of $4.225 billion.
In the same context, U.S. regulations establish sanctions for those who do travel to the island, which can lead to 10 years’ imprisonment and fines amounting to one million dollars for corporations and up to $250,000 for individuals.
Just one example of how these measures are being applied is the recent fine of $100 million imposed on the UBS Swiss banking agency for undertaking dollar financial transactions with Cuba.
Moreover, Cuba is denied access to the international financial agencies, prohibited from trading with subsidiaries of U.S. companies in third countries, and ships from third countries docking in Cuban ports are sanctioned with a six-month ban from entering U.S. ports.
WHAT COULD BE DONE IF THE BLOCKADE DID NOT EXIST
The administration of President George W. Bush has taken the blockade legislation to such an extreme that it has established a foreign assets control office with five times more agents to pursue and investigate those in violation of the laws than those dedicated to the tracking down the funds of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
From 2000 to 2003, that office effected 93 investigations into international terrorism and 10,683 linked to U.S. travel to Cuba and while it penalized those found guilty of terrorism to a total of $9,425, persons who traveled to Cuba were fined to a total of $8 million.
While passing such measures, Bush is also preventing our country from receiving vaccines produced by U.S. companies such as the Chiron Corporation, recently fined $168,500 after one of its European subsidiaries supplied us with two vaccines for Cuban children. That is the largest fine paid this year by a U.S.-based company.
Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque’s press conference yesterday likewise cited examples of certain things that Cuba could do if the blockade did not exist.
He affirmed that with one billion dollars per year 100,000 new houses could be built, 2,000 of them in the capital, and within five years 2.5 million Cubans, including 500,000 capital residents could have moved into new homes.
$180 million could provide the investment needed to supply 2.4 million family units lacking gas to be able to cook with this fuel.
Among other examples the foreign minister observed that with $51.8 million the chicken ration distributed among the population could be doubled, and $300 million would allow an investment in the new electricity generation units needed to guarantee a stable supply of energy and undertake the maintenance required without having to impose power cuts.
The blockade has led to a conservative estimate of $1.803 billion per year, he added.
I DON’T LOOK LIKE A TERRORIST
Culture Minister Abel Prieto explained that every sphere of culture has been affected by the blockade and gave the examples of artistic teaching, the cinema, the recording industry and others.
He added that with Bush’s new measures trips by U.S. students for art courses in our country have been cancelled.
That is a result of the U.S. president’s fear of an interchange of ideas and dialogue, which likewise affects our people-
The prestigious musician Ibrahim Ferrer told those present that the United States had denied him a visa to travel to that country because it considers him “a danger to U.S. national security.” ”Look at me closely, I don’t look like a terrorist,” the artist who has received various awards and who is well known abroad, ironically exclaimed.
Eliades Acosta, director of the José Martí National Library; Digna Guerra, director of the National Choir; and filmmaker Rigoberto López gave various examples of arbitrary measures that range from refusing to grant visas to Cuban artists, the cancellation of performances, and the suspension of congresses involving U.S. and Cuban academics and scientists.
For his part, Dr. Pedro Kouri, director of the Institute of the same name, spoke of the U.S. refusal to sell Cuba retrovirals for AIDS sufferers and other diagnostic means for certain illnesses, which amounts to a form of genocide.