REPORT BY CUBA ON RESOLUTION 62/3 OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
“NECESSITY OF ENDING THE ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL BLOCKADE IMPOSED BY THE U.S.A. AGAINST CUBA”
2. Application of the Bush Plan for re-colonizing Cuba; intensification of the US blockade.
3. The extraterritorial dimension of the blockade.
4. Repercussions of the sanctions on the most sensitive social sectors.
4.1 Repercussions of the sanctions on the Cuban economy in the international markets.
4.2 Impact on other sectors of the Cuban economy.
5. Repercussions on the American people and other peoples in the world.
6. Opposition to the embargo in the United States.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban people’s final victory, after a long and bitter struggle for true independence, over a bloody dictatorship that had oppressed it with the support of the US government; and nearly 50 years into the most radical process of political, economic and social transformation in the history of the country, Washington’s economic, commercial and financial blockade remains in force, as the most blatant expression of a cruel and inhuman policy, lacking any kind of legitimacy or legality, whose aim has been the reversal of the Cuban Revolution by all possible means, including bringing about starvation and despair among the Cuban population.
On the basis of its officially-declared and covert aims, of its scope and of the means and actions in pursuit of these, the US blockade on Cuba amounts to genocide, within the meaning of the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (9th December 1948), and to an act of economic war, according to the definition established at the 1909 London Naval Conference.
As confirmed by 16 consecutive resolutions of the UN General Assembly, this policy conflicts with the aims and principles of the UN Charter, with the principles of international law governing relations between sovereign states, and with the principles of freedom of international trade and navigation enshrined in various international instruments.
The aggressively extraterritorial nature of this policy, especially under the administration of President George W Bush, is also – to a significantly increasing degree – damaging to the sovereignty of third nations and the legitimate interests of organizations and individuals under their jurisdiction
In the interval since the passing of General Assembly Resolution 62/3, on 30 October 2007, the main elements of the blockade on Cuba have been maintained or intensified, as reflected in heavier economic sanctions and sterner persecution of business activity and international financial operations (including those involved in settling Cuba’s dues to the UN’s international agencies), as well as misappropriation of Cuban trade marks, and increased pressures on and reprisals against those who trade with Cuba or form links with Cuba for the purposes of cultural or artistic exchange. Washington has also moved on to a more open and dangerous stage in the organization and execution of subversive operations, through official channels and otherwise, as envisaged in President Bush’s plan for re colonizing Cuba and it subsequent updating on 10 July 2006.
On 24 October 2007, just days after the General Assembly passed the latest resolution calling on America to lift its economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba, the US president made a speech clearly indicating the approach Washington’s policy on Cuba would reflect during the last phase of the Bush administration, in open contempt of the wishes of the international community.
He painted an absurdly inaccurate picture of conditions in Cuba, in an attempt to vilify our country and create a pretext for retaining his increasingly denigrated policy, and said “The operative word in our future dealings with Cuba is not stability. The operative word is freedom.” . He revealed the decision to resort even to force if necessary, to undermine the resistance of the Cuban people and re-colonize the country or (which amounts to the same thing) bring about a “change of regime”, in line with the aggressive, hegemonic doctrine of the White House’s present tenants.
In a state of interventionist fever and as a clear indication of frustration at what he considers scant international support for his illegal policy, Mr Bush launched a further call for accomplices in applying his strategy of hostility and aggression towards the Cuban people.
Intensification of the current US administration’s anti-Cuba political and media campaign, which goes beyond any of its predecessors, was also confirmed by President Bush’s anti-Cuba speech from the White House on 21 May 2008.
Events in the context of this strategy included a further tour of various European capitals, from 7-16 April this year, by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kirsten Madison, and the proconsul for the virtual re colonization of Cuba, Caleb McCarry.
These spokespersons of Washington’s anti-Cuba strategy focussed their efforts on preventing the lifting of the EU sanctions, unjustly imposed in 2003, as well as on discouraging high-level visits from Europe to Cuba, and seeking to impose endorsement of America’s anti-Cuba policy in the EU-US dialogue.
In attempting to destroy the constitutional order established and supported by the Cuban people – a core aim of the economic, commercial and financial blockade – Washington has pulled out all the stops in its efforts to recruit, organize and bankroll persons born in Cuba to act as paid servants of America’s policy of hostility and aggression towards the Cuban nation. Cuba has submitted evidence, including conclusive proof, of these allegations, which the US authorities have been unable to refute.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has been one of the mechanisms used for channelling money to meet the payroll of US mercenaries in Cuba – operations in which the US Interests Office in Cuba (Havana) has been directly involved.
On 14 May 2008, USAID called a meeting at its Washington offices for the purpose of distributing an extra $45m that had been allocated by the Bush administration to the undeclared war on the Cuban people.
The meeting was chaired by USAID Latin America chief José Cardenas, a former executive of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) – an organization set up under the auspices of the Reagan administration and involved in organizing and financing various terrorist operations against Cuba. The meeting approved additional federal funds for identifying other NGOs in third countries, with a view to engaging their services in the campaign against Cuba.
Highlighting the substantial expansion of USAID’s anti-Cuba programme, the chairman reported that the budget had been increased from $13m in 2007 to $45m in the financial year 2008 – a reflection of the priority attached by the Bush administration to reversing the Cuban people’s revolution.
Washington is now cynically using its diplomats in Havana to pass on money received from known terrorist organizations based on US soil to subversive groups in Cuba, as has been recently denounced by the government of the Republic of Cuba.
In the later sections of this report, we provide updated information on the effects of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba in the period since the passing of Resolution 62/3 up to 31 May 2008, whose key feature has been intensification of the policy aimed at reversing the Cuban Revolution. A significant number of examples of the pernicious effects of the US blockade on Cuba have had to be excluded from this document for fear of further reprisals against, or collateral damage to, foreign suppliers and other institutions which maintain economic, trade or financial links with Cuba in accordance with international law and in defiance of the extraterritorial pressures generated by the economic war waged by Washington against the Cuban people and its right to freedom, independence and sovereignty.
2. Application of the Bush Plan for Re-Colonizing Cuba; Intensification of the US Blockade
On 24 October 2007, President Bush gave further rein to his obsessive hostility by announcing another escalation of his anti-Cuba measures. His speech confirmed the sanctions policy and announced “new initiatives”, coupled with a call to the use of force to overthrow Cuba’s constitutional government.
The new measures announced by the President were entirely consistent with the strategy outlined in the Plan for re-colonizing Cuba (hereafter “the Bush Plan”) approved on 6 May 2004, having been drawn up by a presidential commission created by President Bush himself with the declared aim of reversing the Cuban Revolution.
The Bush Plan was updated and upgraded on 10 July 2006. This process involved adding a chapter, classified as secret, introducing measures and actions that could not be made public since they were in clear breach of international law.
A report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) published in November 2007 at the request of the New York Democrat representative Charles Rangel, chairman of the House of Representatives’ Ways & Means Committee, openly acknowledged that the blockade on Cuba represented the most extensive package of sanctions imposed by the United States, out of the 20 such programmes applied to various countries.
Up to December 2007, at a conservative estimate, America’s policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade on Cuba has cost the country’s economy over 93 billion dollars.
The following are among glaring examples of the various actions taken between July 2007 and the first quarter of 2008 in tightening the Draconian blockade imposed on Cuba:
• On 30 June 2007, officials of the US Department of Homeland Security detained a consignment of medical donations at the Maine-Quebec border. These had been collected by the Quebec-Cuba Friendship Caravan and were to be transported to Havana by the 18th Pastors for Peace Caravan. According to a communiqué from this NGO, the American officials had instructions to stop everything destined for Cuba. The shipment was held up for 30 days for investigation of its presumed “threat” to US security.
• On 11 July 2007, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reported that a US company, Logica CMG Inc., had been fined $220,000 because its predecessor, CMG Telecommunications Inc., obtained and assembled computers which it exported to Cuba, and also provided after-sales technical support.
• On 5 August 2007, it emerged that the Treasury Deportment had denied the American NGO Population Services International (PSI) renewal of its licence to pursue cooperation projects with Cuba, including the supply of ‘Vives’-brand condoms and distribution of these to groups at risk of HIV infection.
• On 18 December 2007, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) submitted a bill (S.2503) “to exclude from admission to the United States aliens who have directly and significantly contributed to the ability of Cuba to develop its petroleum resources, and for other purposes”. The proposals included abrogating the maritime border agreement and other measures, based on the need to respond to an alleged threat to Florida’s ecosystems from Cuba’s programme of hydrocarbons exploration and exploitation in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
• On 24 January 2008, the Oil & Gas Journal reported that the same Senator Bill Nelson had written to President Bush seeking non-renewal of the US-Cuba maritime border agreement entered into in 1977.
• On 7 February 2008, the White House published a notice issued by President Bush the previous day, entitled “Continuation of the national emergency relating to Cuba and of the emergency authority relating to the regulation of the anchorage and movement of vessels” extending Presidential Proclamation 7757 which expanded the scope of the national emergency regarding Cuba, to prevent the entry into Cuban waters of US pleasure craft, as a means of depriving the country of funds and tightening the blockade.
• On 22 February 2008, according to the OFAC, fines were imposed on two American concerns, Bank Atlantic and RMO, Inc. The bank was fined for not having blocked a financial operation in which the Cuban government was believed to have an interest. In the other case, the allegations concerned the initiation of a transfer of funds relating to trips to Cuba.
On the same date, five individuals were also fined a total of $9,238.87 for buying Cuban cigars via the Internet.
• On 4 April 2008, the Department of Homeland Security, specifically the US Coastguard Service, issued new security regulations for vessels arriving in US territory from certain countries, including Cuba, on the grounds that the existing rules were not complying effectively with the antiterrorist measures. Vessels are now subjected to extra inspections on arrival at US ports and incur additional surcharges for security-related costs.
• On 11 April 2008, according to the OFAC, United Advantage Northwest Federal Credit Union Bank was fined $2,970.00 for transferring funds to Cuba without a licence. Also fined (a total of $1,898.04) were three individuals who had bought Cuban cigars via the Internet
• On 14 April 2008, according to the OFAC, the American finance company Citigroup was fined a total of $16,250 for accepting, without a licence, payments for goods sent via a Cuban firm. Three individuals were also fined: one for receiving and/or paying for goods and services in which Cuba had an interest; another for effecting commercial service transactions; and a third for buying Cuban cigars over the Internet. The fines were, respectively, $6,000, $1,063 and $282.50.
3 . The Extraterritorial Dimension of the Blockade
During the last year, the Bush administration has adopted new measures and regulations that make the extraterritorial sanctions and other forms of persecution even more stringent, arrogating the right to decide matters that are attributes of the sovereignty of other states, affecting individuals, institutions and firms in third countries which establish or merely propose to establish economic, commercial, financial or scientific/technical relations with Cuba.
The ongoing process of mergers and mega-mergers of international companies, as well as the strategic alliances at world level in which the United States participates substantially, have continued to affect Cuba and to magnify the extraterritorial impact of the blockade, by reducing to the minimum Cuba’s room for manoeuvre within the international economy and complicating our integration into the world economy.
This situation coupled with the prohibition on using the US dollar for trading and financial operations, and the pressures and threats from US officials designed to hinder or prevent any commercial, financial or cooperative operation with Cuban concerns from being carried out, causes a significant increase in the cost of Cuba’s activity as regards the working of its economy and ensuring the continuity of the material conditions essential to the life of its population.
In the 12 months ended in April 2008, the US Treasury Department maintained its harassment and persecution, on a global scale, of other countries’ banking and other financial institutions, aimed at blocking any type of relation or operation with Cuba. It similarly adopted measures prejudicing the right of any country to trade freely and independently with whoever it wishes, bullying enterprises in third countries into suspending their sales and contracts with Cuba.
America continues to arrogate the right to legislate for and on behalf of other countries as regards their relations with Cuba. It goes so far as to claim the authority to certify their conduct and actions. As mentioned on previous occasions, the extraterritorial dimension of this policy, which severely damages the interests of other countries as well as Cuba’s, includes the following provisions:
• US subsidiaries in third countries are barred from dealing in any way with firms in Cuba.
• Foreign firms are prohibited from exporting to the United States products of Cuban origin or products whose processing involves the use of any component of that origin.
• Third countries’ firms are banned from selling to Cuba goods or services whose technology contains more than 10% US components, regardless of whether their owners are nationals of the country concerned.
• Vessels carrying goods to or from Cuba are barred from entering US ports, regardless of their country of registration.
• Banks of third countries are prohibited from opening accounts in US dollars for Cuban individuals or firms, or effecting transactions in US dollars with such parties.
• Third countries’ businessmen are penalized for investing or doing business in Cuba; they are denied US entry visas (a policy that may be extended to their relatives) and can also be sued in the American courts if their dealings involve properties subject to claims by US citizens or others who, having been born in Cuba, subsequently acquired US citizenship.
4. Repercussions of the Sanctions on the Most Sensitive Social Sectors
From the outset, the US blockade on Cuba has targeted the nation’s food and public health sectors. Actions designed to create the conditions for starvation, disease and despair among the Cuban people and thereby, potentially, for the overthrow of the government, constitute the essence of this genocidal policy.
In the period covered by this report, the blockade caused losses in the food sector exceeding $174m. The impact was again felt in the production of food for domestic consumption.
In addition to having to cope with escalating international food prices during the period, Cuba was obliged to incur extra, exceptional costs as a result of the restrictions imposed by the blockade:
• Food imports from the United States remained unpredictable. They are subject to strict supervision and licensing for export and transportation of agricultural products to our country. During 2007, the ALIMPORT Company was obliged to freeze funds for periods averaging 10-15 days before the arrival of the goods, causing losses totalling some $30 m. The familiar obstacles are now compounded by a new regulation that came into force on 18 April requiring extra vessel inspections; these are designed to obstruct food sales to Cuba even more, by increasing the costs of the shipping lines concerned and generally discouraging these.
• If Cuba had access to the husbandry technology used in the United States, we could produce 153 million eggs more than at present and generate savings on feed of $6.8m a year.
• Chicken production and, hence, public consumption has been affected by the lack of temperature-controlled battery units and the equipment needed to operate these. Remedying this situation would result in an increase in production worth around $35.3m, guaranteeing moreover a stable supply of protein to the public and employment for over 4,000 sector workers who have been redeployed to other activities.
• The agricultural sector has been unable to buy certified high-yield seeds, recognized for their high genetic quality, from specialized US companies. In 2007, imports of potatoes amounted to some 27,652.65 tons, including 10,461.45 tons from Canada and 17,191.20 from Europe; vegetable seed imports were some 67.3 tons, from Europe, Japan and the Middle East. Seed imports from these regions can take up to two months to arrive, potentially delaying the scheduled planting of certain crops. The savings from being able to import these seeds from the United States are estimated at $177,844.65.
Cases exemplifying the impact of the extraterritorial nature of the blockade on the food sector included the following:
• Los Portales, a Cuba-France joint-venture company producing mineral water and soft drinks, was affected by a decision of its Mexican supplier of aluminium cans, FAMEX S.A. de CV, to change its aluminium supplier. The cans produced for Cuba must not contain a US component representing more than 12%, a condition which cannot now be met. This situation resulted in an extra cost of $6.15 per 1,000 cans imported. The extra cost to Los Portales during the period has been $900,000. Similar repercussions were felt by the Cuban-Belgian-Brazilian Bucanero joint venture, which had the same supplier of cans for beer and malt-based soft drinks. Its additional costs amounted to $1.2m.
• The Cuban company Maquimport had to act through an intermediary to buy equipment needed for technology improvement in Cuba’s rice industry, following refusal by the supplier to deal directly with Cuba on the grounds of protecting its interests in the United States. The extra cost to the Cuban company was some $75,600.
• CORACAN, a Cuba-Canada joint venture company, was affected from July 2007 onwards by the cancellation of its sugar import agreement (No.12-07/08) with Brazil’s COSAN S.A., when the latter announced that it had converted into a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and was consequently prohibited from trading with Cuba. A pending shipment of 270 tons was cancelled. The lack of supplies and paralysis of this industry for seven days resulted in lost sales worth $180,000 and additional financial charges (bank commission and interest) of $11,500.
The impact on to the public health sector during the 12 months ended in April 2008 is estimated at over $25m.
The economic damage represented by the extra costs involved in obtaining supplies and equipment in more distant markets and with the intervention of intermediaries, is accompanied by distress among the patients and their relatives, as well as the medical personnel whose scope for providing proper care of the sick is restricted by the fact that US drug companies have exclusive rights over products and technologies that are critical to the treatment of various diseases.
The following are among the cases that arose during the period under review:
• Surgical treatment of children with cardiovascular complaints was affected, as regards the application of certain surgical techniques, by the absence of particular supplies. The necessity of buying these via third parties and in distant markets involved extra expenditure of $245,072, including $1,389 for freight alone. It was consequently not possible to meet the needs of all the cases.
• Cuba has been unable to obtain suitable devices for performing catheterism and other techniques for repairing congenital defects of the heart, following refusal by Boston Scientific and Amplatzer to negotiate with our country. The results have included lengthening of the waiting list of Cuban children needing open-heart surgery, with the associated risk to the health and life expectancy of the children concerned. Those affected include:
– María Gainza Pozo, 2 years, Holguín province, borough of Sagua de Tánamo, case file No. 680689.
– Olivia Oliva Báez, 3 years, Ciudad Habana province, borough of Centro Habana, case file No. 683826.
– Félix Cruz, 4 years, Matanzas province, borough of Colón, case file No. 657743.
– Fidel Valeriano Ramos, 6 years, Matanzas province, borough of Jagüey Grande, case file No. 681080.
• The National Centre for Medical Genetics was unable to acquire gene sequencing equipment essential to its work, simply and solely because it is produced only by American companies. Its absence is preventing diagnosis and research of diseases involving deafness, hereditary hearing loss, hereditary breast cancer and cystic fibrosis, while restricting the diagnosis of a large number of mutations in the genes that cause conditions, such as Phenylketonuria (PKU), Mitochondrial Disease and Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease, and consequently the necessary genetic counselling of the families concerned
• The National Institute for Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases was obliged to turn to Asian markets to purchase syringes for administering insulin to diabetic patients, at greater cost, because of its inability to obtain these from the United States.
• The impact on the Institute of Oncology & Radiobiology amounted to $288,355. It was prevented from purchasing PET-CT (Positron Emission Tomography + Computerized Tomography) diagnostic imaging equipment, which provides modern oncology with the best image quality and accuracy of physiological data. There are currently three manufacturers of this technology in the world; Washington bans all of them from offering their products to Cuba.
• The Cuban public was affected when Germany’s Siemens refused to repair an installed gamma camera – high-technology equipment of great value in oncology and research. The company advised that the replacement parts were of US origin and it lacked the necessary export licence from the American authorities.
• The US Saint-Jude company’s refusal to supply prosthetic valves, following pressure from the Treasury Department, continues to impact not only surgery but work in haemodynamics as well, affecting also patients needing pacemakers.
• Academic exchange between Cuba and the United States has been inhibited by denial by the US authorities of the visa applications of Cuban medical professionals. In the period under review, over 30 such applications by Cuban specialists were denied, preventing them from attending various conferences, experience-exchange gatherings and similar events in America. There are also measures that prevent access to scientific reference material and similar documents. Cuba was denied membership of the American Society for Microbiology
• The prestigious Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine has encountered serious problems in diagnosing encephalitis arising from West Nile Virus infection, a disease primarily spread by migratory birds. The US Fisher and Sigma companies refused to supply the Institute with an incubator and the mineral oil needed for the relevant research. Similarly, another American company, Biograd, refused to sell to Cuba equipment for applying the pulsed-field electrophoresis method, for epidemiological molecular monitoring Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Shigella and Vibrio cholerae bacteria, responsible for severe infections.
• Cuba’s anti-HIV/AIDS programme has been hampered by refusal on the part of American companies to supply equipment for the technique of diagnosis and treatment of the HIV-positive and the ill.
• The blockade prevents US manufacturers of pesticides, fumigation equipment and medical entomology aids from dealing with Cuba. This means that the pesticides and other supplies vital to the relevant activities have to be sought in other markets, pushing up the costs, largely because of higher freight charges and commissions. Fumigation equipment purchases during the period totalled $450,000, spare parts for fumigation equipment $85,000 and pesticides $370,000. The same purchases in the US markets would have cost around $750,000 less, in terms of prices, transport, freight, commissions and delivery periods.
Cases in the public health sector exemplifying the extraterritorial nature of the sanctions included the following:
• For fear of fines, Japan’s Hitachi refused to supply an ultracentrifuge on the grounds that it included US components. The equipment is needed for performing Western blot diagnostic testing, which is essential to the detection of HIV/AIDS.
• GH (growth hormone) ceased to be available from Sweden’s Pharmacia when the firm was acquired by an American company. The substance is used in paediatric endocrinology to treat short stature caused by a deficit of this hormone.
• Cuba was prevented from obtaining some 3 million disposable syringes (value $256,000) via the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) for the country’s child vaccination programme; the suppliers said they were unable to sell them if their final destination was Cuba.
• As recently as 4 June 2008, Merck S.A. announced that Whatman, a British company, had been acquired by the American GE Healthcare, and it had been advised by the latter that it was strictly forbidden to sell Whatman products to Cuba. The letter from the US company added that they had cancelled all outstanding orders from their customers in Cuba and terminated completely their operations relating to Whatman products.
OTHER SECTORS OF SOCIAL IMPORTANCE
Education and culture
The education and culture sectors have been hit particularly hard by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States.
Despite the Cuban government’s enormous efforts to provide high-quality education for all, without exclusion, and to guarantee the opportunity for permanent academic advancement to the entire population, the blockade remains a serious obstacle to the development of the sector. Examples of the impact include the following:
• The system suffers severe restrictions, from the primary to the higher levels, in providing the basic educational facilities and the laboratory supplies and equipment needed, because of difficulties created by the blockade in obtaining these on the international market.
• Particularly hard hit by the sanctions are occupational education and the special schools for the handicapped. In the latter case, there is lack of diagnostic, computing and teaching aids, which are largely American-made. In similarly short supply are consumables, spare parts and other items manufactured by US concerns or their subsidiaries in other countries. Among the establishments affected are the 16 special schools for deaf children and 5 kindergartens which need specialized equipment for hearing development. Each of theses needs a listening booth and two language VDUs for individual compensatory corrective working.
• Around 2,230 children with physical/motor limitations treated on an outpatient basis are without computer equipment marketed by firms with US patents, such as intelligent keyboards, touch-screen monitors and switches, among other devices. Neither has it been possible to obtain wheelchairs for children who need them, because the American companies concerned refuse the orders. This was the fate of an order placed via www.spinlife.com. Most of the firms technically equipped to respond to special educational needs, such as WPPISI, WAIS and Grace Arthur, are of US origin. Cuban children have no access to their products.
• Modern teaching methods involve the intensive use of computers, with a minimum ratio of one computer to 10 pupils. In Cuba’s case, the financial limitations created by the blockade mean that we have to work with a ratio of 1:33.
• The inability to buy supplies in the US market, or from American subsidiaries elsewhere, for the 2008/09 academic year, results in our having to turn to more distant sources, at an extra cost in transport alone of $2,505,600.
• The blockade blocks our access to basic IT products, such as databases, bibliographies and internet-based computing services needed for a higher-quality and more efficient teaching process and better pupil preparation. Attendance by Cuban teachers and researchers at scientific events and postgraduate courses is restricted, as in the case of Dr Julia Noda Gómez, who was excluded – by virtue of the blockade’s extraterritorial provisions – from a training workshop on detection and monitoring of avian influenza.
• The impossibility of effecting banking transactions between Cuba and the United States has affected attendance by American students on various postgraduate courses at Cuban universities. The University of Havana alone has incurred losses exceeding $1.5m following suspension of courses in Spanish, the arts and literature, history and economics, attended for several years by American students.
Cuban culture has not escaped the adverse effects of Washington’s blockade policy. The tightening of these measures has resulted in depriving both Cuban and US citizens from enjoyment of the best in artistic and literary expression in both countries.
• In the cultural sphere, musicians, painters, sculptors, ballet dancers and theatrical performers, among others, have been prevented from exhibiting or auctioning their works or presenting their shows on American soil or selling their records or books, despite the exceptional quality and international recognition of these. Those who have performed there have been unable to collect their fees or the prizes awarded by prestigious institutions; those entitled to royalties have been similarly treated.
• The Cuban EGREM and Bis Music companies cannot deal directly with American customers in putting Cuban music – of world-class quality – on the American market, for fear on the part of the businessmen concerned that they would be prosecuted under the blockade legislation. This means that Cuba has to market its product via third countries, increasing the costs involved by 20%.
• Cuba’s film industry cannot distribute its products by satellite – nowadays much used as the basis for selling films and other items – because (among other things) America is the near-total owner of the technology. The sales revenue foregone as a result of this situation amounts to $5m, which would otherwise be used to improve the operation of the 358 cinemas, 174 video centres and 160 video libraries needing to buy projection equipment, sound systems, audiovisual signal transmission equipment and the related spare parts, VHS and DVD reproduction equipment, movie theatre front stalls and carpets, currently obtained in Europe at higher prices. To quote a single example, a video projector costing $3,000 in the United States costs $5,000 in Europe.
• In the first half of April 2008, the US authorities denied visa applications by film director Juan Carlos Tabío and actor Luis Alberto Garcia, who had planned to attend the ‘Havana’ film festival in New York, where they were to be honoured for their work. Other cases similarly involved prestigious Cuban performers, denied visas to attend the Chicago Latino Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and other important international events
• Peter Nadin, a New York based Anglo-American artist, was compelled by the blockade legislation, on the opening of an exhibition of his work (“El Primer Trazo”) in Havana, to ship his paintings via Canada, at an extra cost of $5,000. The US Treasury Department delayed issue of the artist’s travel permit, such that he was unable to be present at many of the exhibitions of his work.
The Cuban state has launched an extensive programme of recovery in the transport sector, whose direct results are already apparent to the Cuban public and are reflected in the national economy. However, despite the government’s efforts and determination, the blockade continues to hamper redevelopment of this sector.
Examples of the impact on the sector include the following:
• Non-availability of the parts and components needed for repairing Cuban locomotives, the vast majority of which are US made, has inhibited goods transport by rail. During the period under review, shortage of operational locomotives caused the cancellation of 280 journeys and failure to move some 250,000 tons of goods. While the economic impact on the rail company was substantial, the main sufferer was the public, since the bulk of the goods concerned were ‘basic shopping basket’ goods destined for consumer.
• Delays in the commercial operations involved in obtaining spare parts, caused by having to seek intermediaries and resort to distant markets, resulted in the METROBUS system experiencing a shortfall in passengers transported of over 19 million during 2007/08.
• Extra expenditure in the transport sector attributable to the blockade totalled over $70m. This figure reflects higher import prices associated with market relocation amounting to nearly 18 million, additional country-risk financing costs of 5 million, extra freight and insurance costs of $21m, tying up of additional funds amounting to $18m in inventories, and financial expense in the form of losses on foreign exchange and extra financing costs totalling around $8m.
• An example of the extraterritorial application of the sanctions policy in the transport sector is provided by the measures taken against the P&O Nedlloyd (former customer) and the French CMA-CGM shipping lines, involving the seizure of funds amounting to, respectively, $56,000 and $500,000 for having effected transactions in dollars with the Havana container terminal.
5. Repercussions on the American People and other Peoples in the World
The effects of the ruthless economic war waged by the United States on Cuba are not confined to Cuban citizens. The Bush administration breaks international law in applying a policy that prejudices other peoples in the world, including its own.
Washington has responded to the obvious failure of its criminal policy and the increasingly universal call by the international community for an end to the blockade by extending and intensifying its application. It seeks to minimize people-to-people contact as far as possible, as well as that between the two countries’ religious, academic, scientific, cultural and sporting organizations. Examples of the measures adopted include the following:
• In July 2007, the District of Columbia federal court rejected charges brought by the Emergency Coalition to Defend Educational Travel (ECDET) against the Treasury Department. On 13 June 2006, Judge Ellen Huvelle had ruled that the restrictions on educational trips, despite breaching the academic freedom guaranteed by the Constitution, were consistent with the provisions of the Bush Plan.
• In November 2007, American and Puerto Rican athletes were barred from participating in the Marahabana 2007 marathon. A large number of applications to run in this event were received from American and Puerto Rican groups of runners, clubs and individuals, who were finally unable to participate because of the blockade.
• The Treasury Department denied travel permits for visiting Cuba to 30 American musicians, whose sole aim was to attend ‘Spring in Havana 2008’, the 12th International Festival of Electroacoustic Music.
• Also denied was a permit for travel to Cuba in April requested by a group of New York State legislators forming part of a trade delegation from the state mentioned.
• A trip to Cuba by a group of 88 students on a master’s degree course in business studies at the Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas was suspended when the Treasury Department sent an ‘alert’ alleging misuse of the University’s licence.
• America’s Sport Show Broadcasting (SSB) signed an agreement worth $210,000 with the Cuban broadcasting organization ICRT covering the rights for televising 30 National Series baseball games. Because of intense political pressures, Cuba was able to transmit only six games.
• A similar situation arose with Mexico’s PCTV cable-TV company, also interested in the National Series, which had to cancel a 100,000-dollar contract, without explanation. In financial terms, the total impact amounted to some $268,000, not to mention the effect on the American and Mexican viewing public, who were unable to watch the games.
• An American professor, Todd J. Martinez of Illinois University, was unable to attend ‘Fotodinámica 2008’, which was held in Havana, his application for the necessary travel permit having been turned down. In November, three American specialists were prevented from attending ‘Lingüística 2007’, since they were unable to obtain the relevant permit.
• The Spanish company Hola Airlines, which ferried ‘Operation Miracle’ patients from Venezuela to Havana, was obliged to terminate its operations with Cuba. When ordering repairs to a damaged aircraft, it was informed by Boeing that the US authorities had prohibited them form providing technical support or supplying spares unless they cancelled their operations with Venezuela and Cuba. Operation Miracle is a strictly humanitarian programme for the benefit of low-income patients; its aim is to provide surgery for people with cataracts, palpebral ptosis, terigium and other conditions of the eye.
6. Opposition to the Blockade in the United States
Washington has failed to silence the protests at its permanent hostility towards Cuba. Voices continue to be raised at home, in opposition to this policy, demanding change.
The following are examples of such calls, which arose during the period covered by this report:
• On 12 June 2007, the board of directors of the USA Rice Millers’ Association passed a resolution calling on Congress and the administration to end the travel restrictions and normalize trade relations with Cuba.
• On 14 June 2007, an informative meeting took place in Congress under the title “Rethinking the U.S. Blockade against Cuba” chaired by representatives Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ). It was attended by various legal advisors, NGOs, diplomats, pressmen and the farming lobby. Rangel described the blockade policy as hypocritical, cited the Florida vote as a deciding factor in the persistence of the sanctions and called the travel restrictions an insult, since they infringed the civil and constitutional rights of American citizens.
• The same day, a senior delegation from the humanitarian Church World Services of America’s National Council of Churches, together with representatives of eleven of the country’s largest Christian denominations lobbied Congress for support for two bills, S.721 and HR.654, concerning freedom of travel to Cuba. The same organizations had earlier (7 June) issued a declaration to the same end, and on 12 June sent letters to congressmen in both houses calling for any legislation on the subject to include a clause lifting the restrictions on religious visits to Cuba.
• On 17 June 2007, Judiciary Committee chairman Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced bill S.1806 ‘Judicial Powers Restoration Act of 2007’, whose third section proposes the repeal of Section 211.
• On 19 July 2007, Senator Dorgan (D-ND), during a Senate Appropriations Committee debate on the Agriculture Bill, submitted two amendments on sales of agricultural products and medicines to Cuba. At a session of the Agriculture Subcommittee, he introduced an amendment to authorize a blanket permit for travel to Cuba by American exporters of agricultural products and medicines, and submitted a proposal to the Financial Services Subcommittee for reverting to the pre-2005 payment system for sales of farm products to Cuba. Both amendments were approved in committee.
• On 25 July 2007, representative Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a bill entitled ‘The U.S. Participation in Cuban Energy Exploration Act of 2007’ (H.R. 3182), to enable US companies to participate in Cuba’s hydrocarbons exploration and extraction programme.
• On 21 September 2007, representatives Jeff Flake (R-AZ), William Delahunt (D-MA), James McGovern (D-MA), Jo Ann Emmerson (R-MO), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Rosa DeLauro (R-CT) wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, on behalf of the House’s working group on Cuba, urging the government to remove the restrictions on travel to Cuba, especially by Cuban Americans.
• During the second half of September 2007, it emerged that a meeting of the agriculture secretaries of the various states of the Union had debated the need to normalize trade relations with Cuba. The results included a declaration by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).
• During the period, 12 delegations from the American business community visited Cuba, including attendances by the Agriculture Secretaries of New Mexico, North Dakota, California and Texas, as well as Secretaries and/or Commissioners for Agriculture of Iowa and Montana. Other visitors included seven congressmen.
• During the 2nd Latin National Congress in Los Angeles on 5-9 October 2007, three resolutions on Cuba were passed, including one that called on Congress to lift the travel restrictions for family visits, since these breached the Constitution and international law.
• On 29 October 2007, America’s National Lawyers Guild (NLG) issued a protest at the denial by the authorities of the visa application of the Vice President of the Union of Cuban Jurists’ Labour Law Society and member of the Bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, who had been invited to attend an event.
• On 27 November 2007, a group of American artists and intellectuals, including the actors Sean Penn and Danny Glover, the writers Alice Walker and Cristina García, the singer Harry Belafonte and the musician Ry Cooder, sent a letter to President Bush calling for an end to the ban on cultural exchanges between Cuba and the United States.
• On 27 March 2008, a round-table debate at the University of Georgia was attended by the former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, James Baker III, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright. According to press reports, the panellists addressed the Cuba question critically, commenting that “The 50-year-old blockade has not worked, not worked to our benefit or their benefit. This is one of those issues that is driven more by politics than foreign policy,” said Christopher. “When policies don’t work for 50 years,” he said, “It’s time to start thinking about something else.”
• On 9 April 2008, during a conference at the Anapolis Naval Academy, US Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) called for the forging of a strategic alliance in the western hemisphere, which would have to start with a change in US policy on Cuba. He added that Washington should change its stance on Cuba radically, lift the blockade, remove the restrictions on travel and remittances and open a dialogue on matters of mutual interest.
• On 14 May 2008, the Foreign Relations Committee , published a report under the title ‘US-Latin America relations. A new direction for a new reality’, drawn up by an independent task force. It suggested a series of first steps on the road to lifting the blockade on Cuba, including the following:
– Allow freedom of travel and facilitate trade with Cuba. The White House should withdraw the restrictions approved in 2004 affecting the travel and remittances of Cuban American families.
– Reinstate and make more flexible the 13 classes of travel permit for trips consistent with the concept of ‘people to people’ exchange, introduced by the Clinton administration during preparations for the Pope’s visit in 1998.
– Promote dialogue on matters of mutual interest, including migration arrangements, human traffic, the drugs trade, public health, the future of the Guantanamo naval base and sustainable management of environmental resources (especially if Cuba starts deep-water exploration for oil reserves with a group of foreign oil companies).
– Repeal the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which took away most of the executive’s power to lift the economic sanctions. In parallel, Congress should pass legislation, like that on agricultural sales, aimed at deregulating bilateral trade and travel to Cuba, thereby creating opportunities for strengthening the democratic institutions.
The last year has been the worst to date in terms of the ruthless application of Washington’s policy of sanctions against Cuba. In tightening the noose, it has been guilty of irrational persecution of government agencies, firms, banks and citizens in third countries, even resorting to blocking internet sites that have any sort of link with Cuba.
The direct economic damage suffered by the Cuban people from the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, since its inception up to the end of 2007, is conservatively estimated at over 93 billion dollars.
The objective significance of this scale of damage is apparent from the consideration that this sum equates to 1.6 times Cuba’s GDP (the value of all the goods and services produced in a year), or around 12 times the country’s foreign debt at the end of 2006 , or some 23.5 times the total invested by Cuba during that year.
The figure quoted is restricted to the damage inflicted on the Cuban economy and people by Washington’s economic war; it does not include damage amounting to over 54 billion dollars caused by terrorist attacks and other hostilities against the Cuban nation by the US government and its mercenary agents over nearly half a century
As part of its strategy to subjugate the Cuban people through hunger and disease and thereby reverse the Revolution, subversive operations and plans have been intensified, with the declared aim of destabilizing and destroying the constitutional system established by the Cuban people. On 19 May last, the Cuban government published irrefutable proof of acts of conspiracy and interference by the official representatives of the United States.
There is no question but that the blockade is today the main obstacle to the development and wellbeing of Cubans, and constitutes a blatant, massive and systematic violation of the rights of an entire people.
Arrogantly and contemptuously, Washington continues to ignore the sixteen resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly. The virtually unanimous call by the international community for an end to this genocidal policy remains unheeded.
The Cuban people will never abandon defence of the gains won by the Revolution and will continue to progress in the exercise of its freedom and independence. It will do so regardless of any obstacles or restrictions that must be surmounted in the process. The will to resist among Cuba’s men and women is indomitable. The Cuban nation will continue to work in the same independent and indefatigable spirit in pursuing its aims of ever greater justice, equity and solidarity, which are the mainstay of the nation’s post-revolutionary way of life.
Once again, Cuba looks with confidence to the international community for support in our just cause: an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States of America