Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba



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CHAPTER V. OPPOSITION TO THE GENOCIDAL POLICY OF THE BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA.

5.1 Unprecedented opposition within the United States.

Opposition to the blockade has also been significantly on the rise within the United States itself.


It is impossible to outline in a few pages the countless declarations made and articles written by important individuals in the US from civil society, the military, legislative bodies, the press, NGOs and academic institutions who, over the past year, have publicly recognized the failure of the blockade, have supported bills aimed at lifting restrictions on travel by US citizens to Cuba, and/or have spoken in favor of normalizing bilateral relations or lifting the blockade.
What follows is a brief summary of the most significant and representative actions and statements against the blockade undertaken and made in the United States:


  • On April 20, 2010, the US magazine National Journal published the following statement by Aaron Saunders, Communications Director for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA): "In the past it cost us very little strategically, but here is a case where it could cost us a great deal."




  • On April 21, 2010, Representative John Tanner (D-TN), Chair of the Trade Subcommittee of the Committee on Media and Arbitration of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, said in a public address on Cuba that the blockade had failed and had closed the doors of the Cuban market to US workers, farmers and businesses. He added that more needed to be done and that it was time to expand US economic interests.




  • On June 25, 2010, former US President Jimmy Carter, during an interview for Radio Catalunya, requested that President Barack Obama lift the blockade because it was counterproductive. "I don’t approve of sanctions against the people from any country."




  • On July 9, 2010, an online survey conducted by the USA Today newspaper, which included 1,475 participants, showed that 94% were in favour of lifting the US blockade against Cuba.




  • On July 13, 2010, an article by Representative William Delahunt (D-MA) was published by The Washington Post, in which he stated that putting an end to the blockade on Cuba would help the Cuban people rather than the government.



  • On July 14, 2010, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), during a speech at a plenary session of the Senate on the draft bill to permit travel to Cuba, noted that the blockade had failed to accomplish its goal. “It has not worked at all,” he said. The senator added that it was immoral to use food and medicine as weapons and noted that restricting the rights of US people in order to punish the Cuban government was inconceivable. "That is what we have been doing over the last 50 years," he added, and he also questioned the authority of the US government to decide where US citizens may or may not travel to.




  • On July 28, 2010, the Tampa Tribune published statements by Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL), in which she insisted that the US blockade was "a 50-year experiment that has not worked" and added that the "the blockade and travel restrictions have given the Cuban government an excuse to blame the United States for its failures..."




  • On August 4, 2010, Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), during a speech at a session of the Committee on Agriculture on the US Agricultural Commercial Policy and the Agriculture Bill, referred to the relaxation of travel and trade restrictions in the case of Cuba as an “extraordinary opportunity" and added that it was time to change the approach with Cuba, given that in almost 50 years the blockade has not succeeded.




  • On August 19, 2010, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) noted in a communiqué that progress needed to be made towards lifting the blockade, which she described as a failed policy. Lee said that it was time to "eliminate the counterproductive and unnecessary travel restrictions for Cuba," as well as trade restrictions, and she reiterated her support of Bill H.R.4645.




  • On September 2, 2010, the Amnesty International NGO released a report entitled Cuba: The US blockade against Cuba: Its impact on economic and social rights, which concluded that the sanctions imposed against Cuba by the United State affect the Cuban people’s access to medicine and medical technology, endangering the health of millions of people. Amnesty International urged President Obama to lift the blockade and to repeal the sanctions imposed against Cuba by virtue of the Trading with the Enemy Act. Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan said that the blockade was an “immoral and failed policy."




  • On September 9, 2010, Amnesty International released a communiqué criticizing the renewal by President Obama of the sanctions against Cuba by virtue of the Trading with the Enemy Act. The communiqué describes this policy as "ineffectual and damaging" and calls on Obama to lift an blockade that “has a devastating effect on the daily lives of the Cuban people.”




  • On September 13, 2010, at an online debate forum organized by the Council of Foreign Relations´ website (AFR.org), Head of the Programme for Latin America Julia Sweig described the US policy towards Cuba as "obsolete" and added that the Obama Administration was making slow progress in this issue. She said that she believed that the beginning of a new era in US-Cuba relations would be very favorable.




  • In September 2010, Bloomberg announced that cell phone company Nokia had requested that President Obama lift the blockade in order to be able to market its products in Cuba. AT&T and Verizon Communications also requested that telephone calls to and from Cuba be made easier.




  • On October 9, 2010, during its 29th Conference, the Cuban section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) issued a declaration condemning the US blockade and advocating for the elimination of US unilateral measures against Cuba.




  • Between November 3 and 17, 2010, 1,000 Americans participated in a survey conducted by Cuba Standard. The results showed that 47% of the people surveyed wanted the blockade on Cuba lifted, as well as restrictions on trade and travels by US citizens to Cuba; 22% were against the blockade, and 31% were unsure.




  • From November 9 to 13, 2010, the yearly Special Joint Assembly Meeting of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the World Church Service and the Latin American Council of Churches was held in New Orleans. A resolution was passed at the meeting advocating a change in US-Cuba relations, the elimination of restrictions on travel by US citizens to Cuba and the lifting of the blockade, as well as a review of the sentences given to the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters.




  • On December 2, 2010, Representative William Delahunt (D-MA) said, according to a report by the EFE news agency, that it was “absurd” that the US Congress maintained restrictions on Cuba that respond to a Cold War mentality.




  • On March 30, 2011, former President Jimmy Carter in a television interview during his second visit to Cuba said: "In the future, I hope that trade and travel between the two countries will be unrestricted and that the US blockade will be completed eliminated. The blockade oppresses the Cuban people. It not only affects the Cuban government, but also the Cuban people, who are ultimately the most severely hit by it. I think US-Cuba relations should change.”

Carter added, “Most Cubans want relations with the United States to be normal, and most Americans also want relations with Cuba to be normal…I think that some progress has been made in the last few years, because Miami and other Cuban-American communities, including young people in these communities, want the blockade lifted and want to have the opportunity to normally travel in both directions: from the Unites States to Cuba and from Cuba to the Unites States. This is a change.”




  • On May 10, 2011, US Reverend Jesse Jackson, a former presidential candidate and a renowned human rights activist, in an interview with Prensa Latina in Doha, Qatar said, “If we [the US government] have been able to hold talks, reach an understanding and establish relations with China, a country with an ideology different from ours, not doing the same with Cuba is an outdated idea.” He added, “We are neighbors and therefore we need each other. We can develop ties that would bring mutual benefits…I await the day when the wall of the blockade that keeps Cuba and the Unites States apart falls.”



5.2 International Opposition.

The international community’s growing and overwhelming opposition to the US blockade against Cuba is significant.


Innumerable voices have been raised around the world to call for an end of this inhumane policy. In the period covered by this report, numerous pronouncements in favor of the immediate and unconditional lifting of the blockade have been made.
The following are especially noteworthy:


  • The 17th Ordinary Session of the Heads of State or Government of the African Union, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from June 30 to July 1, 2011, adopted a special declaration that calls on “the United States government to put an end to the long-standing and unjustifiable economic and commercial blockade imposed against the Republic of Cuba and to allow it to enjoy legitimate perspectives for its sustainable development. Once again we make an appeal to the US government to put an end to its sanctions against Cuba.”




  • The Third Cuba-CARICOM Ministerial Meeting held in Havana from September 17 to 18, 2010, adopted a final declaration which called for the immediate and unconditional lifting of the blockade against the Cuban people.




  • During the general debate of the 65th period of sessions of the UN General Assembly, held in September 2010, the high-level representatives of 33 countries openly criticized the blockade and called for an end to this policy. The repudiation of the US blockade and the demand to lift it was one of the five topics most debated by the member States, clearly demonstrating that this issue continues to be of great concern for the international community.




  • During the session held in the headquarters of the European Parliament in Brussels on October 11, 2010, a report presented by Brazilian Chair of the World Peace Council Socorro Gomez states that “Cuba, socialist and revolutionary, continues to endure isolation, blockade and pressures, something which demands the unconditional solidarity of the World Peace Council in the struggle against the blockade and the liberation of their five heroes, imprisoned in the United States.”




  • On October 19, 2010, the Jamaican House of Commons unanimously adopted a new resolution in support of Cuba’s UN General Assembly resolution against the blockade, stating, among other things, that “the blockade is a violation of International Law and runs contrary to the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter and of the norms governing international trade and freedom of navigation. It is a violation of a sovereign state’s right to peace, development and security and, in its essence and aims, continues to be an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat to the stability of a UN member country.”




  • On October 22, 2010, the State Duma of the Russian Federation’s Federal Assembly adopted a resolution which approved the Call on the Parliaments of UN Member States and International Parliaments by the Duma, to eliminate the economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Republic of Cuba. The document states that, in its refusal to abolish the economic blockade imposed on Cuba, “the United States of America continues to violate the norms and principles that govern normal relations between States, ignoring the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the members of the international community expressed in the pertinent UN General Assembly resolutions.” The Duma once again urged parliaments around the world to “call on the United States of America to lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade on the Republic of Cuba without delay.”




  • On October 25, 2010, the Panama National Assembly adopted Resolution No. 19, which, again, “regretted the continued existence of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on the Republic of Cuba” and expressed its support for the “demand voiced by the international community, calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade that the United States has imposed against the Republic of Cuba for 48 years.”




  • On October 26, 2010 and for the 19th consecutive time, the United Nations General Assembly –the most democratic and representative body of the international community– unequivocally and almost unanimously pronounced itself against the US blockade, voicing the opinion of the overwhelming majority of member states and securing a new, historical victory for the Cuban people, for justice and for truth, when it approved, with 187 votes in favor, 2 against and 3 abstentions, the resolution entitled Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba. Thirty-eight countries, including Cuba, along with several international, regional and sub-regional organizations such as the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement, CARICOM, the African Union, MERCOSUR, and the European Union, participated in the ensuing general debate and discussions of details regarding the vote.




  • On October 29, 2010, the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of El Salvador approved a motion, supported by the majority of the members of parliament from the various political parties, which celebrates and expresses its support for the decision of the UN General Assembly to demand that the United States of America put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Republic of Cuba. The motion also voices concerns over the enactment and implementation of laws and regulations such as the Helms-Burton Act, whose extraterritorial effects undermine the sovereignty of other States.




  • The 41st Ministerial Meeting of the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE) held in Managua, Nicaragua on October 29, 2010, unanimously approved, for the first time, a statement condemning the US blockade against Cuba, thus joining the voices around the world that are calling for its immediate lifting.




  • In November 2010, the Mexican Senate adopted a Memorandum of Agreement which “urges the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make the vote of the international community against the blockade on Cuba effective in Mexico through concrete measures aimed at guaranteeing the lifting of the blockade.”




  • The Heads of State and Government of Latin American countries who convened in Mar del Plata, Argentina, on December 3 and 4, 2010, for the 20th Latin American Summit, once again approved a special communiqué on the necessity to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba and to eliminate the Helms-Burton Act. This communiqué reiterates “the most vigorous condemnation of the implementation of laws and measures that run contrary to International Law, such as the Helms-Burton Act, and urges the government of the United States of America to put an end to its application.” Similarly, it calls on “the government of the United States of America to comply with the resolution approved in 19 consecutive General Assemblies of the United Nations to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.”




  • On December 8, 2010, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) once again condemned the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba in a declaration made by the CARICOM chair, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. The declaration calls the blockade policy unjust and identifies it as the main obstacle faced by Cuba in terms of its development and efforts to overcome global challenges, such as the current economic crisis.




  • On December 23, 2010, the Gambian National Assembly unanimously approved a resolution which calls on the United Nations, the United States government and the international community to lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington against Cuba. Among other statements, the resolution affirms that the blockade constitutes a violation of international law; represents a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the rights of the Cuban people; and runs contrary to the principle and purposes of the United Nations Charter. The document also describes the United States policy against Cuba as a unilateral act of aggression whose extraterritoriality violates the sovereign rights of many other countries.




  • On March 22, 2011, representatives of the 28 member states of the Latin American and Caribbean Economic System (SELA) gathered in Caracas, condemned the unjust blockade that Washington maintains against Cuba. SELA Permanent Secretary José Rivera Banuet reiterated the organization’s condemnation of this policy and stated that relations between the United States and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean could improve substantially if Obama decided to put an end to the blockade, an issue that has been addressed during debates by members of SELA and the international community.




  • During its 16th Ministerial Conference (Inter-Summit), held in Bali, Indonesia, from May 25 to 27, 2011, the Non-Aligned Movement once again called on the United States to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against Cuba. It stated that in addition to being unilateral and contrary to the UN Charter, International Law and the good neighbor principle, the US blockade causes the Cuban people great material and economic damages. NAM representatives once again demanded that the United States abide by the resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly, which call for the lifting of the blockade, and expressed their profound concern over the expansion of its extraterritorial scope.



CONCLUSIONS:

Despite the intense and growing demands by the international community for the US government to change its policy towards Cuba, lift the blockade and normalize bilateral relations with Cuba, the Obama administration has maintained the blockade policy intact.


The blockade violates International Law, runs contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and constitutes a contravention of a sovereign state’s right to peace, development and security. In its essence and objectives, the blockade represents an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of a nation. The blockade constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of an entire people. It also violates the constitutional rights of US citizens by denying them the freedom to travel to Cuba, and encroaches on the sovereign rights of many other states because of its extraterritorial nature.
As of December 2010, the direct economic damages to the Cuban people caused by the implementation of the United States’ economic, commercial and financial blockade, based on current prices and very conservative estimates, amounts to more than 104 billion dollars.
Taking into account the extreme devaluation of the dollar against the price of gold on the international financial market during 2010 and this continual trend, the damages caused to the Cuban economy would exceed 975 billion dollars.
The blockade continues to be an absurd, illegal and morally unjustifiable policy which has not succeeded and never will succeed in undermining the Cuban people’s patriotic decision to defend its sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination. It has only succeeded in subjecting the Cuban population to shortages and needless suffering, in restricting and hindering the development of the country and in seriously damaging the Cuban economy. It is the greatest obstacle Cuba faces in its economic development.
The president of the United States has sufficient prerogatives to significantly modify the blockade against Cuba, and to do so without the intervention of Congress.
The blockade is a unilateral and immoral policy which is condemned both within the United States and by the international community. The United States must lift it immediately and unconditionally.
Once again, Cuba is confident that it can count on the support of the international community in its legitimate demand for an end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.



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