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The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba

The following is the press release and introduction to the important report by Cuba on the U.S. blockade, submitted in support of Resolution 59/11 of the United Nations, then pending an 8 November General Assembly vote. The resolution was later adopted by a 182 to 4 vote, largest margin ever in the 14 years that the UN has adopted similar resolutions.

To read the entire detailed and informative report visit

http://www.granma.cu/ingles/2005/septiembre/mar27/informe.html

The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States since the very triumph of the Revolution has caused loses to Cuba amounting to more than 82,764 billion dollars. This figure does not include the 54 billion dollars due to direct damages caused to economic and social targets occasioned by sabotages and terrorist actions financed and encouraged in the United States.

The blockade on Cuba is the longest and most cruel known to the human history. It is an act of economic warfare, a fundamental part of State Terrorism policy and it qualifies as an act of genocide.

It has extraterritorial characteristics since it illegally forces companies and citizens of other countries to follow US laws; formalized by the Torricelli (1992) and Helms-Burton (1996) Laws.

Torricelli Law prohibits Cuban commerce with the subsidiaries of US companies in third countries. It also obliges ships from third countries to wait no less than six months to land in US ports after having landed in Cuba ports.

Meanwhile, Helms-Burton Law gives legal strength to all blockade's prohibitions. It attempts to prevent foreign investment in Cuba and assumes that the United States can decide on the sovereignty of other States.

Last year, President George W. Bush has reached unprecedented levels in his aggressive blockade policy against the Cuban people no matter the repeated and almost unanimous will of the international community.

Just in 2004, the United States fined 77 companies, banking institutions, and NGOs for acts in violation of the blockade. Eleven of these are foreign companies or subsidiaries of US companies in third countries, such as Mexico, Canada, Panama, Italy, United Kingdom, Uruguay, the Bahamas and British West Indies (Anguila).

On June 30, 2004, measures included in the so-called "Commission for Help to a Free Cuba" report approved by Bush on May 6 of the same year came into effect. More than 80% of these measures has been applied.

Bush's plans on Cuba are led to destroy the Revolution, restore capitalism and reinstate imperial domination over the nation. Some of the above mentioned measures are: to asphyxiate the economy, to increase restrictions on financial flow and travel, to create obstacles to the ties between Cuban residents in the US and their relatives on the island, to prevent all kind of exchanges between our nations, and to encourage conditions that facilitate US intervention with an eye to later annexation.

Despite blockade, Cubans' decision to never renounce their independence, sovereignty and right to freely decide, has allowed them to create a more just and equal society that cares about other peoples all over the world, including the United States.

Each year since 1992, Cuba has introduced its draft resolution demanding an end to the blockade. The number of countries supporting this resolution has increased since then. Last year, 170 countries condemned the U.S. blockade on Cuba.

This year's voting on the draft resolution will be on November 8th.

Issued by the Government of Cuba, 11 October 2005
Courtesy, Cuban Interests Section
Washington D.C.

Introduction to the Report

The economic, commercial and financial blockade impose by the United States against Cuba is the longest-lasting and cruelest of its kind know to human history and is an essential element in the United States’ hostile and aggressive policies regarding the Cuban people. Its aim, made explicit on 6 April 1960 is the destruction of the Cuban Revolution: (…) through frustration and discouragement based on dissatisfaction and economic difficulties (…) to withhold funds and supplies to Cuba in order to cut real income thereby causing starvation, desperation and the overthrow of the government (...)”

It is equally an essential component of the policy of state terrorism against Cuba which silently, systematically, cumulatively, inhumanly, ruthlessly affects the population with no regard for age, sex, race, religious belief or social position.

This policy, implemented and added to by ten US administrations also amounts to an act of genocide under the provisions of paragraph (c) of article II of the Geneva Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9 December 1948 and therefore constitutes a violation of International Law. This Convention defines this as ‘(…) acts perpetrated with the intention to totally or partially destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group’, and in these cases provides for ‘the intentional subjugation of the group to conditions that result in their total or partial physical destruction’.

The blockade on Cuba is an act of economic war. There is no regulation of International Law which justifies a blockade in times of peace. Since 1909, in the London Naval Conference, as a principle of International Law it was defined that ‘blockade is an act of war’, and based on this, its use is only possible between countries at war.

Although the total blockade on trade between Cuba and the United States was formally decreed by an Executive Order issued by President John F. Kennedy on 3 February 1962, measures that are part of the blockade were put in place just a few weeks after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on 1 January 1959.

On 12 February 1959, the US Government refused to grant a modest credit requested by Cuba to maintain the stability of the national currency. Later, other measures were applied such as the restriction of the supply of fuel to the Island by American transnational companies, the halting of industrial factories, the prohibition of exports to Cuba and the partial, and later total, suppression of the sugar quota.

By virtue of the blockade, among other restrictions, Cuba cannot export any product to the United States, or import any merchandise from this country: American tourists are prohibited from visiting; the dollar cannot be used in the country’s transactions with foreign countries; the country has no access to the credit, and cannot carry out transactions with regional or American multilateral financial institutions and their boats and aircrafts must not enter American territory.

The blockade has a marked extraterritorial component. In 1992, with a view to intensifying the effects of Cuba’s loss of 85% of its foreign trade after the Soviet Union and the European socialist block fell apart, the United States passed the Torricelli Act, which removed Cuba’s ability to purchase medicines and food from US subsidiaries in third countries which stood at US$718 million in 1991. The Torricelli Act placed tight restrictions on ships sailing to and from Cuba, thus making formal its serious extraterritorial provisions. A ship from a third country that docks in Cuban waters cannot enter a port in the United States until 6 months have passed and said country has obtained a new permission permit.

The 1996 Helms-Burton Act made the effects of the blockade worse, increased the number and scope of the provisions with an extraterritorial impact, instituted persecution of and sanctions on actual and potential foreign investors in Cuba and authorised funding for hostile, subversive and aggressive acts against the Cuban people.

From the end of 2001, and by virtue of legislation passed by US Congress in 2000, as a result of strong pressure from agricultural sectors in the United States and the American people in general, Cuba began to make purchases of goods in the United States, which in 2004 amounted to 474.1 million dollars, albeit with severe restrictions and complicated procedures, to extraordinary imports of food and medicines by Cuba. Cuba has to pay in cash and in advance — with no chance of obtaining financial credit, not even private credit. The sale and transportation of the merchandise means a license has to be obtained for each operation. Cuba cannot use its merchant fleet for transporting these goods, it has to use ships from third countries, and, mostly, from the United States. Payments are made through banks in third countries since direct banking relations are forbidden.

The restrictions on importing medical goods are so extensive that these are almost unfeasible. They include the exporter having to verify the use of the product or the equipment when it reaches its final destination and a ban on the sale to Cuba goods and equipment involving advanced technology.

More than 70% of Cubans were born and have lived under the blockade. The Cuban people defends its right to self –determination and demands respect for it sovereign system of independence, social justice and fairness.

According to preliminary, conservative estimates, the direct economic damage to the Cuban people resulting from the blockade is over US$82 billion, an average of US$1782 million annually. This figure does not include the more than US$54 billion of direct damage occasioned by sabotage and terrorist acts encouraged, organized and financed in the United States nor the value of the goods not made nor the damage stemming from the onerous credit conditions imposed on Cuba. This year the damage amounted to US$2,674.

The General Assembly’s demand that this blockade policy be ended, contained in thirteen of the resolutions passed with the virtually unanimous support of the UN’s member states has been defied by US authorities, thus confirming their total contempt for the United Nations, for multilateralism and for international law.

On 30 June 2004 the measures included in the report from the self-proclaimed “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba” to which George W. Bush had given his approval on 6 May that year, came into effect. Its 450 pages contain proposal for new actions and measures intended to intensify the blockade by stepping up actions aimed at discouraging tourism and investment in Cuba, by restricting financial flow and visits to the island and by placing even more restrictions on family remittances and exchanges in various spheres, the aim being to bring about conditions which would allow the US to intervene in Cuba, thus permitting them to impose the “regime change” to which the US president made reference on 20 May of that year.

The period covered by this report — the second half of 2004 and the first half of 2005— has witnessed the implementation of those measures; this once again proves the US administration’s criminal plans for the Cuban people.

Continue to full report


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