Decalogue to understand the increased ferocity of the US blockade against Cuba

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Our economy destroyed and our people divided. The US government, faithful to that objective, went to great lengths in 2019 and 2020 to try to make Cuba exhausted and encircled.

Regardless of the problems brought about by COVID-19, the White House regime stepped up its attacks … and limited, hindered, threatened, persecuted or sanctioned all those who tried to do business with the island, and they even intimidated and questioned those who dared to think of Henry Reeve’s doctors as a solution for their people in the midst of a pandemic that brought about a crisis in the national health systems of half the world. But Cuba is a lot of Cuba.

On October 22, 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented, in a virtual press conference, the Report on the damages of the blockade on Cuba for the period from April 2019 to March 2020.

At that stage, the blockade caused losses on the order of US$ 5,570.3 million, which represents an increase of about US$ 1,226 million over the previous period.

As if the damage sustained for almost 60 years were not enough, the total amount of damages caused by this policy in one year exceeded $5 billion.
At current prices, the accumulated damage over almost six decades amounts to 144,413.4 million dollars, which means, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold on the international market, that the blockade has caused quantifiable damage of more than one billion 098,008 million dollars.

Granma makes available to its community of readers a Decalogue to understand, in this last year, the ferocity of this policy.

1. Understand that the objective of the blockade policy is to destroy the Revolution… at any cost

Between April 2019 and March 2020, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce introduced regulatory changes under the blockade.

With a high intimidating effect on counterparts, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed 12 penalties on U.S. and third-country entities for violating Cuban Assets Control Regulations. The amount of these penalties exceeded $2,403,985,125.

They were especially directed against the oil sector, as part of which 34 vessels of PDVSA and as many foreign companies were sanctioned. The banking sector was also highly affected with repercussions in companies from Germany, Austria and Italy, whose penalties amounted to US$ 1,300 million.

In 2019, the Department of State updated the List of Restricted Cuban Entities, by including 12 new ones, bringing the total to 223.
That same year, in June, they announced regulatory changes in policy toward Cuba, primarily directed at the travel sector, and included the elimination of “people to people” travel and the implementation of a policy of denying licenses for passenger travel (cruises), recreational vessels, and private aircraft.

It also provided that U.S. travelers arriving in Cuba under any of the 12 authorized categories may not conduct direct financial transactions with companies on the Cuban Restricted Entity List.

During 2019, a general policy was also approved to deny licenses for the leasing of aircraft to Cuban state airlines; to prevent the re-export to Cuba of foreign articles containing more than 10% of U.S. components; and to order the revision of the Licensing Exception “Support to the Cuban People” so that certain donations to the Government of Cuba and the Cuban Communist Party cannot be made.

Likewise, the authorization for the export of promotional articles was eliminated and new restrictions were issued for the export of goods related to telecommunications.

2. Denounce the illegal extraterritoriality of the blockade

This system of sanctions represents a threat, both to Cuba’s sovereign interests and rights and to those of third countries. Examples of its application abound, starting with the Air France KLM Group which, in April 2019, communicated its decision to suspend the agreement with Cubana de Aviación.

Among other examples, Petrobras Uruguay refused to establish links with Cubana de Aviación due to the threats of the blockade; Viajes Falabella, a partner of Havanatur, was imposed limitations to directly or indirectly market Cuban hotels; and the International Air Transport Association suspended BSP service for our offices in Mexico, Italy, and France, due to pressure.

The shipping company Cosco, based in an Asian country, suspended all shipments to Cuba, strongly affecting Medicuba, and in November 2019 the company Trivago, a technology company specialized in products and services in hotel and lodging, based in Germany, eliminated all Cuban hotel facilities from its Internet search platforms.

3. Never think that a measure, such as the activation of titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act,
can benefit Cubans in some way

Since 1996, the Helms-Burton strengthened the extraterritorial scope of the blockade, affecting companies from third countries that have done or are doing business with Cuba.

Its Title III allows former owners of nationalized property in Cuba the possibility of suing, in US courts, those who had any contact with such property, something that had been suspended since 1996, consistently every six months, by all US presidents. But, for the first time in 23 years, on May 2, 2019, legal proceedings were initiated under this Act and by March 31, 2020, a total of 25 lawsuits had been filed, of which three were withdrawn and 22 are still ongoing.

4. If the rights of the Cuban people are trampled on in any way, it is by the government
American

In Health, from April 2019 to March 2020, this policy caused losses in the order of 160 260 880 dollars. The damage accumulated over almost six decades of application reaches the figure of 3 074 033 738 in the Health sector.

This policy denies access to medical technologies of U.S. origin or with more than 10% of components coming from that country.
Medicuba S.A. contacted the seven supplier companies and, in addition, 50 other companies. The elusive responses or silence generated a considerable shortage of drugs and significant additional expenses.

Especially affected were supplies to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, different types of cancer, as well as progesterone, used in the Assisted Reproduction Program to prevent premature birth or the threat of abortion, and Abiraterone Acetate for the treatment of castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Cuba is denied the acquisition of hearing aids with state-of-the-art technology, including batteries and spare parts, since they have some American component.

5. Don’t believe everything they say about flexibility in the food sector

In the period analyzed, in the food sector, damages of approximately 428,894,637 dollars were recorded. Many of these damages would have been avoided if Cuban companies could access the US market.

The food importing company, Alimport, registered significant effects due to the high prices of frozen chicken in distant markets, compared to the US market, which was impossible to access during the period.

The prices of this product in the markets to which the Cuban entity had access oscillate between 350 and 600 dollars over the price of the metric ton in the American market.

The difficulties in the supply of fuel to Cuba caused interruptions in the productive cycles of several entities of the agro-alimentary sector, as well as in the crops.

At the Los Portales factory, located in Pinar del Río province, production was paralyzed for 77 days, because its warehouses were full of finished products but did not have the fuel to transport them, which caused at least two million boxes of soft drinks and water to be lost, equivalent to a loss of US$ 10.9 million.

In the months of November and December 2019, due to the unavailability of fuel, 30,130 tons of rice and more than 195,000 tons of food were no longer produced. Also, more than two million liters of milk and 481 tons of meat were not collected.

6. Accept that Cubans abroad can also be impacted by US policy towards their homeland

For Cubans living abroad, the regulations of the blockade are also daily obstacles. They are prevented from opening bank accounts, using certain credit cards or carrying out transactions normally, just because they have Cuban nationality.

With regard to flights, an issue that harshly affected Cuban families, it was announced that all flights by US airlines from the US to Cuba were suspended, with the exception of those directed to Havana’s José Martí International Airport.

The measure took effect on December 10, 2019, and on January 10, 2020 they also suspended all charter flights between the US and Cuba, except for those directed to the José Martí International Airport in Havana.

The measure took effect on 10 December 2019, and on 10 January 2020 they also suspended all charter flights between the US and Cuba, except those to Havana International Airport, to which a limit was imposed on the number of charter flights.

Another limitation that affected Cuban families, both inside and outside the island, was the imposition of a limit of up to $1,000 per quarter on family remittances, the elimination of donor (non-family) remittances, and the suspension of Cuba-related transfers to and from the US.

On October 25, 2019, the company Western Union Canada made public the decision to limit the amounts of remittances that can be sent to Cuba, under the restrictive measures announced by the US Government.

In February 2020, the new regulations of the US company Western Union would come into force, eliminating the possibility of sending remittances to Cuba from third countries.

7. Distinguish intimidation and persecution against those who trade with Cuba as an element that characterizes the US administration’s position towards the island

The total amount of damages caused by the blockade to the external sector of the Cuban economy in this period amounts to 3,013,951,129 dollars.

The dissuasive and intimidating effect of the blockade policy on businessmen and entities of the United States and third countries, accentuated from the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, has caused the cancellation of commercial operations, cooperation actions and foreign investment projects that were at different levels of development.

It has also had negative repercussions on the banking-financial institutions, which refuse to work with Cuban entities for fear of being subject to sanctions.

The greatest impact is seen in the lost income from exports of goods and services, which is worth $2,475,700,000. Tourism continues to be the most affected sector in this regard, accounting for 72.6% of the total. This is equivalent to 1,798 million dollars, which represents an increase of 260 million dollars over the previous stage.

Given the impossibility of exporting to the US as a result of the blockade’s restrictions, the Cuban agricultural sector is reported to have been affected to the tune of 184 million dollars.

Of this figure, 84.3% is attributed to the possible exports of the  Habanos S.A., while the rest, some 26.5 million dollars, corresponds to potential exports of marabou charcoal, pineapple, honey, coffee and fresh products destined mainly for cruise ships.

Between April 2019 and March 2020, the ban on the use of the dollar has affected Cuban foreign trade to the tune of US$ 92,883,153, while the increase in the cost of financing / country risk is quantified at US$ 25,841,716.

8. Identify the essential sectors for the Cuban society, as the main targets of aggression

The services of free and inclusive education, to which the Cuban state allocated 23.7% of the social expenditure budgeted for 2020, are affected by deficiencies and inadequacies that limit the teaching and learning process. Between April 2019 and March 2020, the impact on this sector is estimated at US$ 21,226,000.

The fuel deficit seriously wounded this sector, to the point of impacting 52 institutions and leading to a readjustment of the curricula and teaching schedules.

In sports, the company Cubadeportes has seen its capacity to import sports equipment of American brands reduced, many of them of obligatory use, as stipulated in the official regulations of the international federations. The effects on the sports field are estimated at approximately 9,995,000 dollars.
On the other hand, in the cultural sector, the effects are in the order of 22,150,000 dollars.

The US blocks the circulation of Cuban art around the world, persecuting and censoring its action, as well as extending its strategy of isolation to the large international corporations of information and the circuits of distribution of art.

Among the affectations are the obstacles in the commercialization of the cinema, due to the impossibility of exhibiting Cuban cinematographic works in the United States. Also in this time, the campaign of hate against the cultural sector has been more ferocious.

In the communications and information technology sector, including telecommunications, losses are estimated at $64,274,042.

USA The United States blocks the circulation of Cuban art around the world, persecuting and censoring its action, as well as extending its strategy of isolation to large international information corporations and art distribution circuits.

Among the affectations are the obstacles in the commercialization of the cinema, due to the impossibility of exhibiting Cuban cinematographic works in the United States. Also in this time, the campaign of hate against the cultural sector has been more ferocious.

In the communications and information technology sector, including telecommunications, losses are estimated at $64,274,042.

By making connectivity in the country more difficult and expensive, conditioning access to platforms and technologies, and using cyberspace to try to subvert the Cuban political and legal system, this policy is negatively affecting the development of communications in Cuba. Etecsa continues to be the entity with the greatest impact, registering approximately 97% of the total amount of that impact.

9. Be wary: the COVID-19 pandemic has not caused a “softening” of the blockade

The negative impact of the blockade is aggravated and crueler in the current context of confronting the COVID-19. In March 2020, due to U.S. restrictions, a donation of mechanical lung ventilators, diagnostic kits, masks and other medical supplies sent by the Chinese company Alibaba could not arrive on the island.

The Swiss companies IMT Medical AG and Acutronic medical systems ag, recently acquired by a US-based company, invoked the blockade’s sanctions to refuse to deliver high-tech mechanical lung ventilators to Cuba.

In April 2020, it became known that the Swiss banks UBS, Banque Cler and the Cantonal Bank of Basel refused to transfer donations made by the Swiss solidarity organizations MediCuba-Switzerland and Asociación Suiza-Cuba, because the name of the island was mentioned in the register of transactions.

The affectations caused to bilateral agreements signed by Cuba with several countries of the region of the Americas, have seriously damaged the medical attention of 67 million people.

10. Appreciate the support of all the voices raised against the blockade of Cuba

There have been numerous requests to the President of the United States to use his executive powers to lift the blockade. Also, after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, numerous actors in the international system have spoken out against the blockade and/or unilateral coercive measures in general.

During the period under review, 256 actions by organizations in solidarity with Cuba were recorded in 87 countries.

 

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