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Report to the UN: Cuba and the world versus the US blockade, 2012

September 21, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For 21 consecutive times a resolution titled “The necessity of ending the financial and commercial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba” will be voted on by the United Nations General Assembly at the end of October 2012.

"The blockade is a unilateral policy, rejected both inside the United States and by the international community. The United States must lift it, immediately and unconditionally. Once again, Cuba appreciates and requests the support of the international community in order to put an end to this unfair, illegal and inhuman policy”, states the report.

Cuba appreciates the denunciation of the blockade and asks for your solidarity. For more information visit http://www.cubavsbloqueo.cu. For comments and support you can join Twitter #cubavsbloqueo (https://twitter.com/cubavsbloque).

Sincere regards,

Abelardo Cueto Sosa, ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in India

* * *

UN General Assembly's adoption of Cuba's resolution against the blockade between 1992 and 2011

 

Year

In favor

Against

Abstentions

2011

186

 3

2010

187

2

3

2009

187

3

2

2008

185

3

2

2007

184

4

1

2006

183

4

1

2005

182

4

1

2004

179

4

7

2003

179

3

2

2002

173

3

4

2001

167

3

3

2000

167

3

4

1999

155

2

8

1998

157

2

12

1997

143

3

17

1996

137

3

25

1995

117

3

38

1994

101

2

48

1993

88

4

57

1992

59

3

71

 

Report to the UN: Cuba and the world versus the US blockade, 2012

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER I. CONTINUED POLICY OF ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA.

1.1 Principal measures to continue the blockade adopted by the US government.

1.2 Extraterritorial application of the blockade.

1.3 Adverse effects of the blockade on cooperation with multilateral organizations.

CHAPTER II: ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THE BLOCKADE ON THE MOST VULNERABLE SOCIAL SECTORS.

2.1 Adverse effects in the areas of health care and food.

2.2 Negative impact on academic, scientific, cultural and sport exchanges.

CHAPTER 3.  ADVERSE EFFECTS ON THE FOREIGN SECTOR OF THE ECONOMY.

3.1 Adverse effects on foreign trade.

3.2 Adverse effects on foreign investment.

3.3 Adverse effects on the financial and banking sectors.

 3.4 Section 211 of the 1999 US Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act and new aggressions regarding patents and trademarks.

CHAPTER IV. ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THE BLOCKADE ON OTHER SECTORS OF THE CUBAN ECONOMY.

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

5.1 Unprecedented opposition within the United States.

5.2 International Opposition.

CONCLUSIONS

 

“Our sanctions laws reflect core U.S. * should serve as a clear warning to anyone who would consider profiting by evading U.S. sanctions…”

Adam Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department of the government of the United States of America, June 2012

* It refers to the 619 million dollar fine imposed on the Dutch bank ING for engaging in financial transactions with Cuba and other countries.  It’s been the highest fine ever imposed by the government of the United States on a foreign bank for having commercial relations with Cuba.

INTRODUCTION

The economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba began to be implemented as from the very moment when the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959, and all along these years it has been even more institutionalized and refined through the approval of several Presidential Proclamations and legal measures that have turned it into an increasingly rigorous and all-embracing policy.

Since then, the policy of economic suffocation that the blockade represents has not ceased to be implemented, not even for one single second, which is a clear evidence of the obsession of successive United States’ administrations to destroy the political, economic and social system chosen by the Cuban people in the exercise of their right to self-determination and sovereignty. During all these years, the political, legal and administrative mechanisms of that policy have been tightened and reinforced aiming at a more efficient implementation of it.  

The entire structure that supports the blockade qualifies as an act of genocide by virtue of the Geneva Convention of 1948 on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and as an act of economic warfare as established by the Declaration on the Law of Naval Warfare adopted by the London Naval Conference of 1909.  As can be ascertained while browsing the web sites of the US Departments of the Treasury and Commerce, the blockade against Cuba continues to be the most unfair, all-embracing, severe and longest-lasting system of unilateral sanctions ever imposed against any country in the world.   

As a result of the rigorous and aggressive implementation of the laws and regulations that define the blockade, Cuba is still unable to freely export and import products and services to or from the United States and can not use US dollars to carry out its international financial transactions or hold accounts in that currency in third countries’ banks. Nor is Cuba allowed to receive credits from US banks, their subsidiary banks in third countries or international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the Inter-American Development Bank.   

Last year, the persecution of Cuba’s international financial transactions was one of the most outstanding features of the implementation of the blockade.   According to the Annual Report published by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Treasury Department, the total of Cuban funds frozen by the United States amounts to 245 million dollars , thus hindering Cuba’s economic, social, scientific and technological development.

The US government, in contempt for the will of the international community and the General Assembly expressed in the twenty resolutions adopted by that body which call for an end to this policy, continues to assert that it will maintain the blockade as a “tool for pressure” and that it has no intention whatsoever to change its approach towards Cuba.

The economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the implementation of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade until December 2011, taking into account the devaluation of the dollar vis-à-vis the price of gold and the world market, amounts to 1 trillion 66 billion (1,066,000,000,000) dollars.

At current prices, and based on a very conservative estimate, this figure exceeds 108 billion (108,000,000,000) dollars.

Despite having failed in the pursuance of its goals, the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States continues to be the main obstacle that prevents Cuba from fully developing its economic and social potential. 

All figures expressed in dollars refer to US dollars.

CHAPTER I. CONTINUED POLICY OF ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA.

In September of 2011, for the third consecutive year, President Obama extended the application of the “Trading with the Enemy Act” which not only supports the implementation of the extreme blockade measures but also substantiates the president’s authority to impose all other complementary laws and provisions.

Besides the unfair persecution of Cuban financial transactions as a result of the implementation of the blockade measures, the United States government illegally keeps Cuba on the list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism, and resorts to this argument to carry out new actions aimed at increasing its supervision and hampering Cuba’s banking and financial operations. Cuba’s inclusion in this list, which is absolutely unwarranted, since Cuba does not qualify as a terrorist country or a country that sponsors terrorism -much to the contrary, it has historically been the victim of terrorist actions perpetrated from US territory- pursues the sole purpose of attempting to justify the illegal sanctions against Cuba that have been rejected by the international community.

During this period, the highest fine ever recorded in history was imposed on a foreign bank for having commercial relations with Cuba. The Dutch bank ING was forced to pay 619 million dollars for carrying out financial transactions with Cuba and other countries. According to the statements made by Adam Szubin, Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), ING used US subsidiary banks to carry out its transactions between 2002 and 2007 and evaded the controls imposed by the United States. “Our sanctions laws reflect core U.S. national security and foreign policy interests and OFAC polices them aggressively. Today's historic settlement should serve as a clear warning to anyone who would consider profiting by evading U.S. sanctions…”

1.1- Principal measures adopted by the US government and proposals made which evidence the continuance of the blockade and the attempts to further strengthen it.

On April 7, 2011, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) levied a fine of 22,500 dollars against the New York insurance company METLIFE for having issued a check on behalf of a Cuban national.

On May 26, 2011, the Republican representative for the state of Florida and chairperson of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives of the US Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, introduced the bill H.R.2047 entitled ‘Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Act of 2011’, which proposed to amend the Helms-Burton Act in order to ban the entry into the United States of any foreign person or entity contributing to the development of oil prospecting programs in maritime areas close to the Cuban coastline and deprive them of the benefits that may result from their relations with the US.  That bill also advocates for the imposition of new sanctions and prohibitions to hinder Cuba’s access to oil resources.  

On June 19, 2011, the Organizing Committee of the Ernest Hemingway International Symposium reported that the Treasury Department had denied fourteen US researchers the licenses to travel to Cuba and take part in that event. 

On June 20, 2011, the CBS4 TV channel announced that the Treasury Department had denied the Key West children’s soccer team the license to travel to Cuba and participate as guests in the National Students’ Sport Games.

On July 19, 2011, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to Adam Szubin, Director of OFAC, expressing her “concern” about the “efforts by certain travel agencies to evade US laws in promoting tourism to Cuba”, and requesting information about the measures that OFAC would be taking to prevent or penalize the activities of these agencies, particularly, as she emphasized, Monroe Travel Service.

On July 31, 2011, for the second consecutive year, the Facebook social network prevented computer experts from Cuba and other countries facing US sanctions from participating in a world programming contest.

On August 1st, 2011, the luxury travel agency Abercrombie & Kent suspended its Cuba tours program, which had been announced since July 19th, after an information released by OFAC explaining that tourism travel was not authorized as part of the people-to-people programs and that the “regulations still include many traveling restrictions”.

On October 3, 2011, OFAC levied a 502 408 dollar fine on Flowserve Corporation, an oil industry supplies company based in Irving, Texas, for violating the sanctions imposed on Cuba and other countries between the years 2005 and 2006. Furthermore, that company will have to pay 2 500 000 dollars to the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce for being accused of infringing US exports standards.    

On December 1st, 2011, US citizens Marc Verzani and Adem Arici were arrested in the United States, accused of conspiracy to violate the Trading with the Enemy Act and covering up trips to Cuba. According to the media, these individuals were involved in real estate businesses in Cuba and could be facing sentences of 25 and 15 years in prison respectively. 

On February 23, 2012, President Obama extended the validity of the guidelines on the “Extension of the national emergency relating to Cuba” and the “Emergency Authority Relating to the Regulation of the Anchorage and Movement of Vessels" which, like other regulations, prohibits the arrival of pleasure boats and yachts in Cuba. 

On March 16, 2012, it was learned that the Esco Corporation of the state of Oregon was being investigated because one of its subsidiaries in Canada used Cuban nickel in its products.

On May 1st, 2012, Governor Rick Scout of Florida signed Law H.B. 959 which prohibits state and local governments from entering into contracts for more than a million USD with companies doing business with Cuba and other countries.

On May 11, 2012, OFAC updated the guidelines for the implementation of Cuba travel regulations.  This action clearly reveals   the characteristics of the procedure established to apply for a license and engage in “people-to-people” exchanges and defines in greater detail the requirements to be met for these trips.  This announcement by OFAC seems to appear in response to pressures exerted by anti-Cuban elements in Congress on the Obama administration, particularly by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

On May 14, 2012, the Supreme Court overturned an application filed by the Cuban company CUBAEXPORT for a review of the decision issued in 2011 by the Appeals Court of the District of Columbia after OFAC denied CUBAEXPORT a license to renew the registration of the “Havana Club” trademark in the US.

On May 31, 2012, Mike Hammer, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs of the State Department, gave a press conference on Twitter, in which he answered questions about Cuba sent from the United States Interests Section in Havana and defended the blockade as a tool for pressure in order to bring about political changes in Cuba.

On June 12, 2012, the Department of Justice announced the imposition of a 619 million dollar fine on the Dutch bank ING, for violating the sanctions imposed against Cuba and other countries. ING is alleged to have approved more than 20,000 banking operations with those countries for an amount of over 2 billion dollars from the early 1990s until 2007.

1.2 Extraterritorial implementation of the blockade

One distinctive feature of the Obama administration has been the reinforcement of the extraterritorial dimension of the blockade of which the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts continue to be clear examples.  It is a well known fact that, through these laws, the government of the United States has illegally assumed the right to legislate in the name of and for other countries on their relations with Cuba, and has even endowed itself with the capacity to certify the behavior and actions of other States and their nationals who are not subject to the US jurisdiction.   

As a result of the extraterritorial nature of the blockade and the strict implementation of the laws that pursue that end, any merchant vessel  from any nation that touches Cuban ports continue to be banned from touching US ports for a period of 180 days. 

Neither are the companies from any country which are affiliated to or have any type of interest with US companies allowed to do business with companies of Cuban origin, regardless of the relations that may exist between the country where the company is headquartered and Cuba; the laws in force in their country of origin or the International Law standards. The companies from third countries that have commercial relations with Cuba are the object of persecution, threats and sanctions by the US government authorities anywhere in the world, notwithstanding their origin, assets or whether they have ties with the United States or not.

Likewise, the pursuit of Cuba’s financial transactions with other countries has intensified, regardless of the relationship these countries may have with Cuba, the currency being used and the banking standards in force in the countries involved. 

The extraterritorial implementation of the blockade seriously harms Cuba but it also affects the interests and sovereign rights of third countries and is a permanent source of commercial and financial conflicts.

The main features that define the extraterritorial nature of this policy continue to be the following:

  • US subsidiary companies in third countries are forbidden to do any kind of transaction with companies based in Cuba.
  • Companies from third countries are forbidden to export products of Cuban origin or products that have a component of Cuban origin to the United States.
  • Companies from third countries are forbidden to sell goods or services to Cuba, whose technology contains more than 10% of US components, even though their owners may be nationals of those countries.
  • Vessels carrying products to or from Cuba, regardless of their country of registration, are forbidden to enter US ports.
  • Third country banks are forbidden to open accounts in US dollars on behalf of Cuban juridical or natural persons or carry out financial transactions in said currency with Cuban entities or persons. The processing by third country banks of financial transactions relating to Cuba, even if these are done in other currencies, is considered to be an offense, and these banks are threatened with potential retaliations for alleged violations of the US laws.
  •  Business people from third countries are penalized for investing in or doing business with Cuba; they are denied visas to enter the US and this includes their family members. These business people could be subject to legal action before US courts if their operations with Cuba are related to properties associated with claims filed by US citizens or those who were born in Cuba and acquired the US citizenship at a later date.

There are countless recent cases of Cuban commercial operations with third country companies that are not under US jurisdiction, whose operations have been hindered or prevented by the prohibitions, threats and blackmail imposed by Washington.

The following examples illustrate this:

On April 17, 2011, the digital version of the Spanish newspaper El País published that Washington, through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), demanded an explanation from the Spanish bank BBVA after it stated in its annual report that one of its more than 100,000 employees was based in Cuba.  SEC asked the Spanish bank to provide information about the scope and nature of its “past, present and future” activities in Cuba and reveal any contact made with the country’s authorities.

On March 8, 2011, OFAC blocked a fund of 135,000 dollars that belonged to the company Puro Habano y Ron, LTDA of Bogotá, Colombia, for the purchase of cigars and rum from Cuba.  The request to free the funds was denied under the argument that “blocked properties are only freed in limited circumstances that do not involve commercial activity with Cuba”.

On July 28, 2011, the German newspaper Die Welt reported that German companies were being banned from using the PayPal system for Internet payments if they were to trade in Cuban goods.  According to the company’s spokesperson, this policy is related to the country of origin of the products.

On July 29, 2011, Representative Ros-Lehtinen sent letters to both Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury, and Jan Hommen, president of the Executive Board of the Dutch banking group ING,  expressing her concern about the violation of US laws regarding Cuba and other countries by the ING bank.  In her letter she requested clarification as to whether that bank had violated the US laws and asked the Treasury Department to ensure that this as well as other similar entities “be held accountable for their acts”.

On August 16, 2011, the Office of Foreign Assets Control(OFAC) of the Treasury Department levied a 374,400 dollar fine on the French shipping and transport company CMA CGM for having provided services to Cuba and other countries between December, 2004, and April, 2008.

On September 12, 2011, the Spanish bank BBVA started to be investigated by the US entity in charge of the security of financial transactions for its alleged participation in 1996 in an investment of approximately 20 million Euros to set up a company with the Office of the Historian of the city of Havana.

On September 27, 2011, thirty four members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Antonio Brufau Niubó, president of the company Repsol, urging the Spanish company, in a threatening manner, to abandon its oil exploration plans in Cuba.  The congresspersons warned that, under current laws, this company and its subsidiaries could be running the risk of being sued in criminal and civil processes before US courts and reminded him of the serious consequences that the violation of the US laws in relation to the trade with Cuba could bring about for the individuals or entities involved.  

On November 29, 2011, OFAC imposed a 175,500 dollar fine on the New York subsidiary of the German bank Commerzbank for serving as consultant and guarantor for a Cuban national in its payment to a Canadian company.  

In December of 2011, the US government demanded an explanation from Compañía Telefónica de España for its relations with Cuba and reiterated its warning of previous years.  The Spanish company was forced to declare that it had not entered into agreements pending the US authorization.

In December of 2011, the management of the Hilton Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago, administrated by the US company Hilton Worldwide under contract, received instructions not to provide accommodations for the Cuban delegation participating at the Cuba-CARICOM Summit chaired by Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz. Hilton Worldwide issued a communiqué on December 6th informing that it had failed to obtain the OFAC license so that the Hilton Hotel of Trinidad and Tobago could host the Cuban-Caribbean Summit, which forced a change of venue for this event.   

On February 27, 2012, the US government froze a total of 137,000 Danish crowns belonging to a Danish citizen for having bought Cuban cigars in Germany.

On May 25, 2012,  the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce levied a 1 753 000 dollar fine on a Panamanian subsidiary of the Swedish company Ericsson, the leading manufacturer of mobile network equipment in the world, for having violated the blockade laws between 2004 and 2007.

The Cuban company LABIOFAM faced difficulties in importing from France a mixed strain of lactobacillus for the Cuban company Flora y Fauna. Later on, the French manufacturing company Sorbial, which was marketing this product, informed its Cuban counterpart its decision to cancel the contract claiming that it had been acquired by a US company.

The Cuban company QUIMIMPORT which imports chemical products for agricultural productions was forced to cancel the import of 458 liters of Sofit CE 300, an herbicide used for weed control in rice fields, because the Swiss company with which it had signed the contract could no longer supply it due to the blockade regulations.  Since it was impossible to use US dollars, the company’s losses amounted to 222,370 dollars.

1.3 Adverse effects of the blockade on international cooperation, including that from multilateral bodies.

The adverse effects of the blockade on the international cooperation with Cuba, including that which is received from multilateral bodies, have increased under the Obama administration.

In January of 2012, it was learned through the Office of the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Cuba that this international program is facing serious difficulties with the payment for the operations generated by cooperation projects with Cuba, due to the blockade laws.

As is well-known, these difficulties had their most notorious public expression in December of 2010 when the Office of Foreign Assets Control blocked funds amounting to more than 4  200 000 dollars destined for three projects that Cuba was carrying out with the cooperation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

These cooperation projects with multilateral bodies allow Cuba to purchase various types of antiretroviral compounds for the treatment of patients with HIV/AIDS, among them Retonavir -100 mg, which is only manufactured by the US company ABBOTT.  In this case, it was necessary to wait for the OFAC to grant a license so that this medicine could be bought to treat Cuban patients, which created a situation of uncertainty, since time was going by and the inventories were running out, and we if we failed to get that medicine, 650 Cuban patients would be left without therapeutic alternatives.

Since 2009, as part of the technical cooperation between Cuba and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Cuba had requested to purchase an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), which is a world recognized technique for the analysis of traces of metals in food products and environmental samples.

Since that time, the government of the United States has refused to grant the permit needed to purchase it; this also involves a restriction in the access to markets, due to the inability to detect the presence in foodstuffs of chemical residues that are harmful to human health. Only the cost of hiring abroad the analytical services for fishery products is estimated to be around 70,000 dollars each year.

The National Institute for Basic Research in Tropical Agriculture registered an increased spending of financial resources on two international cooperation projects due to the increase of around 30 percent in the prices of certain equipment, parts and spare parts, air conditioning equipment, materials and consumables that had to be acquired from third countries.  The sum spent amounted to 14 617 dollars.

The adverse effects on the international bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Cuba are an evidence of the broad scope of implementation of this policy, which includes all areas of the economic and social life of the country. 

While there has been an increase in the visits to Cuba by US citizens and to the US by Cuban citizens, the US government continues to impose restrictions on the academic, scientific, cultural and sports exchanges between the two countries by implementing the blockade provisions, thus hindering, out of political reasons, the exchanges of visits by professionals in both directions.  That includes the participation of these professionals in events that are held both in Cuba and the US.  On many occasions the Treasury Department has refused to grant licenses to US professionals who would like to take part in events that are held in Cuba.  

An example of that occurred in May of 2012 when the US State Department refused to grant visas to ten Cuban scholars and intellectuals who were supposed to attend the Thirtieth Congress of the Latin American Studies Association.

CHAPTER II: ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THE BLOCKADE ON THE MOST VULNERABLE SOCIAL SECTORS.

2.1 Adverse effects on health care and food

In the period between May of 2011 and April of 2012, expenses in this sector were estimated to have increased around 10 million dollars, mainly because of the need to resort to further away markets and the increase in the prices of imports of medical consumables and instruments, as well as medicines, reagents, spare parts and equipment.

Although exports of medicines, accessories and medical devices to Cuba are authorized under the Torricelli Act (1992) and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000, significant restrictions remain in place.  Sales of products in the health sector are not being benefited by license waivers (or automatic license) established by the Department of Commerce for agricultural products. In this case a specific license is required, which is granted on a case by case basis, with a specific term of validity and under special conditions.

Products eligible for authorization must meet the control and classification requirements under the Export Administration Regulations issued by the Department of Commerce, which establish Control Lists based on the provisions approved for reasons of national security or others associated to the biotechnology industry.

The granting of licenses is conditioned to the possibility that the US government is able to supervise and verify, through in situ inspections or other means, that the product is being used for the same purpose for which it was authorized.  As a matter of policy, the sale of cutting-edge technology in this sector is not authorized.

So far, the volume of direct imports from the United States is insignificant; these are essentially consumable materials.

Among the many examples showing the damage caused in the area of health, we may list the following:

The ‘William Soler’ Pediatric Cardiological Centre lacks a medicine called Levosimendan that is used in the treatment of decreased cardiac output and is only manufactured by ABBOTT Laboratories in the United States. Likewise the hospital lacks the nutritional formulas to feed newly-born and under-sized infants, as well as the trace elements and some vitamins for parenteral use that are also manufactured in the US.

Besides, the hospital is prevented from the possibility of purchasing in the US market the laminar tissue required for tissue expanders, which are used to treat children suffering from deep burns.

There is also a lack of temporary skin substitutes, such as the artificial skin INTEGRA and the acellular human dermis ALLODERM, both of them manufactured in the United States, which are used to treat patients with extensive second and third-degree burns, as was denounced by the Cuban Plastic Surgery and Burned Patients Society.

Between 100 and 110 children under the age of one are treated every year at the cardiovascular surgery service of the ‘William Soler’ children’s hospital. More than 90 per cent of them require parenteral nutrition before undergoing surgery for a better prognosis. Cuba has no access to the parenteral food supplements that are manufactured in the United States, considered to be the best for the uses they would be destined for at that hospital.

The Cuban company Medicuba S.A. which imports medicines, reagents and medical supplies has found it impossible to acquire obstetrics and gynecology instruments because the Panamanian supplier A/E cancelled this operation claiming that the factory that manufactured them had been acquired by a US company, which prevented it from exporting those products to Cuba.   

A Canadian intermediary company cancelled the sales contract it had signed with Medicuba for the acquisition of the US-manufactured HIV-1P24 ELISA kits used to diagnose AIDS in children born form mothers who test positive for HIV/AIDS after it learned that the final destination of these products was Cuba.  The Cuban health authorities have been forced ever since to resort to other options that involve the searching out and import of those kits from farther away markets at much higher prices. 

The Neurology and Neurosurgery Institute has been unable to purchase the lab kit CanAg NSE EIA (ref 420-10) manufactured by the US company Fujirebio Diagnostics Inc.  This kit is used to detect the neuron-specific enolase (NSE) protein in serums and the cerebrospinal fluid as a diagnosis and prognosis marker for ischemic cerebrovascular diseases, which show high rates of mortality and morbidity in Cuba.

The Cuban Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery Institute has scheduled 400 surgeries for 2012; 70 per cent of them will be aortocoronary revascularizations and the remaining 30 per cent will be replacements of mitral and aortic valves. The impossibility of acquiring in the United States the valve replacements, cardiac stabilizers and mobilizers and other equipment and materials associated to these surgeries has almost doubled their cost for Cuba, along with other difficulties this situation has brought about.  

With the US company St. Jude leaving Cuba as a result of the implementation of the blockade, the Pace-maker and Electro-physiological Service of the aforementioned institute does not have the equipment to carry out non-fluoroscopic three-dimensional anatomic mapping, which prevent the performance of complex arrhythmia ablations.  The patients requiring these procedures have to be sent to Europe for treatment, with all the associated risks and costs.

Cuba is one of the Latin American and the Caribbean countries with the most aged population.  Approximately 18.1 per cent of Cuba’s population is over 60 years of age. Some 130,000 persons suffer from Alzheimer’s or associated dementia.  The treatment of these patients becomes difficult because Cuba has no access to the main cholinesterase inhibitors, particularly the medicine called Aricept (Donepezil), which is manufactured by the US company Pfizer. The same thing happens with the new atypical neuroleptic medicines used for the control of psychic and behavioral symptoms that are the prime cause for the patients to be institutionalized.

On the other hand, as has been denounced in former reports, Cuba is still being banned from purchasing new US-manufactured cytostatics that are specifically designed to treat certain diseases. Cuba is being denied access to medical literature, Internet sites created to facilitate the free exchange of information and softwares which are indispensable for Scientific Modeling and Simulation, which allow for the visualization of advanced systems of image processing for diagnostic purposes.

FOOD

The blockade has been basically designed to cause damage and impose restrictions in this sector.

From March, 2011, to March, 2012, the damages caused were estimated at around 131 572 967 dollars. This figure includes the purchase of foods in faraway markets, with the usual increase in insurance and freight costs and the additional cost of the immobilization of resources in inventories, among other factors.

Apart from the possibility of importing agricultural products and foodstuffs from the United States, there is no commercial relationship in this area between the two countries.  The limited possibility to buy food continues to be governed by very strict regulations and is subject to a complex mechanism of licenses which are applicable to the trips by US businesspeople, the signing of contracts, transportation and the payments for these transactions.  Additionally, OFAC reserves the right to cancel these licenses without prior notice and without further explanation.

Adverse effects suffered by ALIMPORT are particularly significant and can be listed as follows:

  • The impossibility to access the funding mechanisms of US credit institutions and other similar institutions have a significant impact on the so-called “risk country” for third party creditors.  Because of this, the costs of financial transactions rise to approximately 5 per cent and reach levels even higher than the cost of inter-bank transactions that are usually quoted on the market.  It is estimated that, as a result of this, the country expenditures rose to almost 46 million US dollars during this period.
  • The inexistence of relations between Cuban and US banks and the permanent supervision of financial agencies by the US government forced this company to channel its payments through third parties, which has sometimes involved more than two financial institutions. The continuation of these operations led to expenditures in ready money of approximately 11 million dollars.
  • The impossibility of making payments to third countries in dollars forces Cuban banks to buy repayment currencies, which leads to considerable losses due to the exchange risks and the highly volatile nature of financial markets.  Because of this limitation and the need to look for alternatives to honor the commitments entered into with suppliers, the company has had to disburse around 33 million dollars.
  • Due to the impossibility of exporting Cuban products to the US market and the restrictions that prevent US ships from loading cargo in Cuba and head for other destinations, the vessels transporting the agricultural products that are bought in the US are forced to navigate on ballast, with a consequent increase in freight costs.  In 2011, Cuba had to pay 3 million dollars in extra freight costs. 

Despite the above, it would be worth referring to the value of the exports of goods and services that could not be carried out.  The US market is one of the most important in the world for the foodstuffs and fisheries exported by Cuban companies. The United States, given its proximity to Cuba, would be the natural market for these products if the blockade against Cuba did not exist. Thus, according to some estimates made by Cuban exporting entities, Cuba has stopped receiving incomes amounting to more than 122 million dollars.  

One of the most evident examples is that of rum, taking into account the fact that 40 per cent of the international rum market is controlled by the United States.  The impossibility to access that market has cost the Cuban rum industry more than 100 million dollars in gross sales of products that could have otherwise been placed in the US market.

Likewise, all the exports of the Cuban company CARIBEX, especially lobster tails and shrimps could otherwise be placed in the US market.  As a result of the blockade, the exports of those products are subject to high custom duties in other markets (they are duty-free in the US market), high transportation costs associated to the risks of long journeys and onerous exchange rates due to the impossibility to use US dollar in commercial transactions.

In addition to that, the relocation of markets to import consumables for the Cuban food industry, such as products for the packaging and preservation of products, malt, hops and pulps for the manufacturing of baby foods, just to mention a few, have caused losses above one million dollars since these products must be acquired in farther away markets.

2.2 Education, culture and sports

In spite of the efforts made by the Cuban government to guarantee education, culture and sports free of charge for all its citizens, the effects of the blockade are translated into daily shortages that affect growth in these sectors.

As a consequence of the implementation of this policy, Cuba still has no access to the US market for the purchase of school consumables, raw materials and the exchange of scientific, cultural and sports information.

In order to import a broad range of products acquired in Asia, destined for the educational sector, CONSUMIMPORT required 239 20-TEU and 285 40-TEU containers at an estimated cost of 812,767 dollars, which includes additional expenses incurred by the difference in freight costs as compared to the US market.   Added to this are 47,996 dollars in expenses resulting from the impossibility of using the US dollar, which yields to a total cost of 863,023 dollars. Should these additional expenses not exist, Cuba would have been able to purchase 14 million pencils or 25 million semi-manufactured pencils.

Other examples of the implementation of the blockade affecting education, culture and sports sectors are the following:

In September of 2011, OFAC confiscated a transfer of 1,409.85 dollars made by a Spanish citizen for the quarterly payment of the schooling of his two children who are studying at the French School of Havana.  

On March 21, 2012, the US Treasury Department prevented Professor Dr. Alan Hoffman of the University of Washington from teaching a course on bio-materials in Cuba.  Dr. Hoffman had planned to participate at the Third International Bio-materials Seminar sponsored by the UNESCO Chair, the Bio-materials Center (Biomat-Cuba) and the Higher Council for Scientific Research of Spain.

The Fondo de Bienes Culturales, a Cuban company responsible for importing raw materials, accessories, tools and artistic creation materials is still unable to purchase consumables in the United States.  For this reason, it must resort to far-off markets, which increases the costs of its operations.  So is the case for the purchase of leather for craftpersons.   

US cultural, research and academic institutions are prohibited from acquiring Cuban bibliography to enrich their collections.  Last year, at the Twenty-fifth International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, the organizers had to warn US librarians and distributors present at the event to refrain from purchasing Cuban books because of the blockade policy against Cuba.  Neither was Cuba allowed to buy contemporary US literature. 

Besides, Cuban sports teams with a high level of achievement undergoing training prior to their participation at the 2012 Olympic Games have had sometimes to abstain from using top-level sports equipment that are manufactured mostly by US companies.  At other times it has been necessary to resort to far-off markets in order to buy these at much higher prices.

The Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva, an emblematic Cuban sports facility, has not been able to purchase the air conditioning system it requires since the main manufacturers and suppliers of the equipment needed are American.  That has led to a 550,000 dollar cost.

CHAPTER 3.  ADVERSE EFFECTS ON THE FOREIGN SECTOR OF THE ECONOMY.

3.1 Adverse effects on foreign trade

Cuba is a small developing country whose economy largely depends on foreign trade, foreign technology and capital, credits, investments and international cooperation.

The current economic and financial crisis has had a particularly negative impact on trade, foreign investments and international cooperation. In the case of Cuba, that becomes even more significant as a result of the blockade. 

During this period, the adverse effects on foreign trade caused by the blockade has amounted to 3,553, 602, 645 dollars.

When comparing the 2010-2011 period, when total losses amounted to 3, 095 274 058 dollars, a 15 per cent increase is observed in the  damages caused to Cuban foreign trade, particularly because of the incomes that could not be earned from the export of goods and services, where losses increased by more than 20 per cent.  The damages caused by the restrictions imposed on US citizens’ travels to Cuba continue to be significant, with annual losses above 2.3 billion dollars in the tourism sector.

During this period, costs increased by more than 57 per cent due to the impossibility of using  US dollars in Cuba’s foreign transactions.   Likewise, the amount of retained funds, termination of contracts and litigations, among others, also increased.

The biggest damages recorded in this sector are still caused by the impossibility of accessing the US markets both for the export of goods, namely tobacco products, and the acquisition of technology, equipment and general inputs for these productions. 

The estimated damages caused to the company TABACUBA resulted mainly from income losses for not being able to export to the US market, the most important premium tobacco market in the world (it accounts for  64 per cent of the total), some 278  500 000 units in 2011.  

Considering the real possibilities of Cuban production and export of sugar for the world market under the present circumstances, honoring the tonnage already committed to other destinations and taking as a basis the difference between the invoiced price and the price of Contract No. 16 of New York, applicable to US imports under a preferential scheme, the incomes that the company CUBAZUCAR could have otherwise earned have been estimated at around 29 million dollars.

3.2 Adverse effects on foreign investments

Estimates of the adverse effects on the growth of foreign investment in Cuba are primarily based, as in previous years, on the world investments report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the “Direct Foreign Investment for Latin America and the Caribbean” report of 2012 published by ECLAC, which provides data referring to 2011.   

According to the ECLAC report published in May, 2012, Latin America and the Caribbean was the region experiencing the highest growth of Direct Foreign Investments (DFI) in 2011 on a world scale.  The flow of DFI to the region increased 31 per cent as compared to the previous year, reaching the amount of 153.448 billion dollars.

In order to estimate the investment  flows that Cuba would receive if the blockade did not exist, an analysis was made based on the DFI flows from the United States that are drawn by selected countries, as well as the percentage these flows represent with regard to the total incomes received by these countries in 2011.

The compendium of selected countries was estimated on the basis of economies comparable to that of Cuba and having similar characteristics in terms of geographical and socio-cultural conditions, with special emphasis on the sector of destination of the flows received.

The following table shows the total foreign investment flows and those from the United States received by selected countries during 2011 (millions of USD).


Country

Total DFI flows
(millions of dollars)

DFI flow from the US
(millions of dollars)

 

US flows percentage of  the total

Costa Rica

2104.1

1282

60.9

Honduras

1014.4

291

28.7

Dominican Republic

2371.1

459

19.4

Colombia

13234.2

507

3.8

Nicaragua

967.9

159

16.4

Source: Cuban estimates based on data from ‘Regional Panorama of Direct Foreign Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean’ (ECLAC), 2011.

Based on the analysis of these data, it can be concluded that Cuba could have received DFI flows from the US equivalent to approximately 350 million dollars.

Among the sectors most affected by the restrictions imposed by the blockade on foreign investment are those considered a priority for the economic development and/or the exports of goods and services from Cuba, such as oil, tourism and biotechnology. 

The value of the shares of companies such as SHERRIT INTERNATIONAL CORP., with investments in the oil and mining sector, is discounted due to the impossibility to access the US market and capital.  The executives of this company were included in the list of business executives who are not eligible to enter the United States, along with another three fundamental associated companies that were doing business with Cuba (Moa Níckel S.A, Cobalt Refinery Co. Inc and International Cobalt Co).

The tourism sector is still one of the main driving engines of Cuba’s economy and development.  At the end of 2011, 2 708 964 visitors had arrived in Cuba. This figure exceeds by 7.3 per cent the one achieved in 2010.  The necessary expansion of this sector requires further development with new opportunities for foreign investors in hotel and extra-hotel infrastructure, as well as the construction of golf courses, among other activities.  The US companies, with a long history in the hotel business and big investments in the Caribbean, have no access to these opportunities due to the prohibitions imposed by the blockade.  

Despite Cuba’s vast experience in biotechnology, whose standards can compare to those of developed countries, this sector has been seriously affected when it comes to the development of joint research projects, given the existing limitations for the establishment of strategic alliances with the leading US companies in that area. 

3.3 Adverse effects on the financial and banking sectors

As was pointed out, during this period the policy of hostility, persecution and harassment by the government of the United States against the Cuban banking and financial sector has increased. The US government has increased its pursuit of foreign financial and banking institutions with the aim of imposing restrictions on the operations to and from Cuban banks.  Those institutions have claimed the impossibility of dealing with Cuba for having been included in “the list of countries that sponsor terrorism”, despite the fact that most of the transfers are made in Euros and other currencies.

The principal adverse effects on the National Banking System during this period have been the following: 

  • Adverse effects on currency exchange operations due to the impossibility of using the US dollar in Cuba’s foreign trade; this forces Cuba to resort to the double forex mechanism (using currencies other than the dollar) with the consequent increase in financial costs in order to be able to honor the obligations which creditors demand to be paid for in dollars.
  • Closing of accounts owned by Cuban entities in foreign banks.
  • Correspondent banks still refuse to confirm or notify letters of credit.
  • Some foreign banks refuse to make payments on behalf of Cuban banking entities.
  • Necessity to keep minimal balances in Cuban accounts abroad due to be able to cope with the risk of confiscation.
  • Some foreign banks, in dealing with Cuban banks, have established the requirement of mandatory information about the Cuban banks’ shareholders and correspondent banks, among other data, claiming that Cuba is among the countries penalized by OFAC. 

Some of these adverse effects become evident in the following examples:

During the year 2011, OFAC levied a total of 198,000 dollar fine on two entities for having carried out non-authorized financial transactions that were related only to Cuba.  Likewise, another three entities were also fined for a total of 89 176 408 dollars for violating the regulations on Cuba and other countries. In this case, the US bank JP Morgan Chase paid the lion’s share, for it settled a debt of 88.3 million dollars.

In 2012, a European bank refused to open a current account in Euros for a Cuban bank, claiming that the account did not conform to the bank strategy for this kind of product, even though it had accepted the Cuban application a few months earlier.

Early this year, and without any previous incidents of this type, another European bank, which was the correspondent of a Cuban institution, withheld the funds consisting of several payments to Cuban companies for which it acted as an intermediary, claiming that, due to the OFAC restrictions, it required additional information about those operations. 

An Asian bank refused to process an export operation for a Cuban company because the documents related to that export operation had been withheld in the United States. This situation caused the bank to refuse the operation and returned the merchandise back to the country.

3.4 Section 211 of the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 1999, and other aggressions in the area of patents and trademarks

During this period, there were no changes in the situation generated7 by the attempts of the Bacardi company to take hold of the Havana Club rum trademark in the US, where the company achieved verdicts favorable to its interests during 2011, based on the legislation that this same company promoted and managed to get passed in the US Congress in 1997, which is the notorious Section 211 of the Federal US Budget Appropriations Act of 1998 relating to the registration, renewal or protection in that country of trademarks and trade names associated to nationalized assets in Cuba.

Section 211 was passed thanks to the maneuvers orchestrated by the anti-Cuban groups in Miami and their allies in Congress, as a reward for the substantial financial contributions they receive from the Bacardi company, which promoted these actions against the Cuban company Cubaexport, aimed at usurping the trade marks and markets of a legitimate and genuine Cuban product.   

This provision forbids Cuban owners or their successors in interests, such as the joint ventures with Cuban entities, from having their rights over trademarks or trade names that are registered and protected in Cuba, recognized and enjoyed in that territory.

February of 2012 marked 10 years since the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ratified that Section 211 violates the obligations relating to the national treatment and the most favored nation treatment entered into by the United States as part of the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and requested the US government to put an end to this measure which is incompatible with the obligations imposed by the Agreement on TRIPS to which the US is a party.

On May 14, 2012, the US Supreme Court, by virtue of Section 211, denied Cubaexport the possibility of defending its right to renew the registration of the prestigious Havana Club trademark with the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO), which was impeded by OFAC’s refusal to grant the Cuban entity the license that would have allowed it to renew the trademark that remained registered in that country from 1976 to 2006.

Since 1995, Cubaexport, together with the French company Pernod Ricard, which is the distributor of the Havana Club rum, has defended its right to register the well-known trademark; this action was backed by the decision of the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel that ruled against the United States and called for the elimination of that Section, considered to be illegal.

That policy constitutes a serious violation of the US commitments in the area of industrial property, which force them to protect the trademarks of Cuban companies and institutions. Such dispute as well other litigations in progress against Cuban patents and trademarks at the US courts evidence the involvement of the US government in the efforts to divest Cuba of its rights and trademarks. 

As established by International Law, the United States is responsible for having their laws, regulations and judicial and administrative procedures to be in accordance with their obligations with WTO Agreements and the international treaties on trademarks and patents to which the US is party. 

Cuba has invariably observed, with no distinction whatsoever, the obligations entered into by virtue of said international juridical instruments; this has ensured that more than five thousand US trademarks and patents enjoy and continue to enjoy the benefits derived from their registration in Cuba. 

Furthermore, during the year 2011 and up to the present, some persons who have filed lawsuits in the US against the Cuban State remain adamant in their intentions to take hold of Cuban trademarks and patents as a form of compensation, invoking the provisions of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act passed in 2002 and valid until 2014.

CHAPTER 4. ADVERSE EFFECTS OF THE BLOCKADE ON OTHER SECTORS OF THE CUBAN ECONOMY.

Between April of 2011 and March of 2012, the construction industry suffered adverse effects worth around 1 027 000 dollars. This means that between 1,500 and 2,000 homes could not be built; conservation work on 14,000 homes could not be accomplished or, instead, around 9,000 homes could not be refurbished.  This is a highly sensitive matter for the Cuban population.

Cuba is being denied the possibility of purchasing the hard and soft technologies associated to road works, such as concrete and asphalt emulsion plants, equipment and materials for the maintenance and repair of roads.  Thus, the country is forced to acquire these from farther away markets at much higher prices.

During this period, the company ESICUBA S.A, which year after year offers protection to the Cuban economy assets, has been dealing with increasing restrictions to get reinsurance protection with third country companies having US interests and/or listed on the US stock exchanges, basically on the New York Stock Exchange. At the close of 2011, this company lost around 263 943 000 thousand dollars due to adverse exchange rates.

The biggest inconvenience faced by the steel and mechanical industry, given the considerable volume of its import and the exports of its marketing entities, is the impossibility of accessing the US market.  During this period, losses have accounted for 102 500 978 dollars.

The Grupo Industrial de Bienes de Consumo (GBC) which produces and markets medical equipment, electrical appliances, household items, shelves for stores, office and hospital furniture, iron fittings for construction works, plastic containers, electrical resistances, liquid gas cylinders, among others, has recorded losses estimated at 15 846 000 dollars, a sum that would have been enough to acquire equipment and supplies to cover the needs of the population.  

The Grupo Industrial de la Siderurgia (ACINOX) which produces corrugated bars for construction, welding electrodes, electro-welded mesh for construction, cables and electrical and telephone conductors, refractory materials, water-pumping equipment, among other productions, recorded losses totaling 3 980 000 dollars.

The Basic Industry, which takes care of economic activities that are crucial for the country, including the production and marketing of nickel; the oil and gas industry, as well as non-nickel-based mining productions,  recorded losses estimated at around 101 253 942 dollars. 

The nickel industry continued to record serious losses resulting from the impossibility of exporting to the United States products that are totally or partially manufactured with Cuban nickel, even if they are manufactured in third countries.  This industry is therefore forced to continue selling this product in far away markets through distribution channels that are more expensive, since these include the participation of intermediaries, in addition to the application of differentiated discounts regarding the London Metal Exchange price, given the political risk involved.  The economic damage has been estimated at 80 343 980 dollars.

The company CUBANIQUEL has been denied the right to buy spare parts and accessories for the fire detection system at the ‘Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara’ Nickel Company. The European supplier announced that it was impossible for them to carry out the operation because the manufacturer of the merchandise was American and it did not authorize them to do business with Cuba.  Losses were estimated at 37,900 dollars.

The oil industry (CUPET) continues to be the target of some measures designed by the US government to impede its development, hinder its access to cutting-edge technology, oil resources and the necessary funding for its development. 

It was necessary to have a drilling platform built with less than 10 per cent of US components especially to carry out exploratory operations in Cuba’s Exclusive Economic Zone, since all the existing platforms in the world have a higher percentage of US components and the blockade policy prevents them from being used in Cuba.   

During the period between March, 2011, and March, 2012, tourism, has continued to record severe losses as a result of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US government on Cuba in important areas related to services, operations and logistics which are crucial for tourism. These losses have been estimated at
2 068 043 657 dollars.

The Cuban tourist agencies Cubatur and Viajes Cubanacán intend to attract cruise ships sailing through the Caribbean.  Some140 cruise ships that operate in this area sail close to Havana and other Cuban cities.  The US shipping groups which dominate the world market are eager to send their cruise ships to Cuba, but the blockade prevents them from doing so.  Should this prohibition not exist, it is estimated that at least one million Americans out of the seven who buy Caribbean cruise holidays would visit the Cuban terminals every year.

 
On March 7, 2012, OFAC sent a letter to the US company Havana Ferry Partners to notify that their application for a license to operate a ferry route between Florida and Havana had been denied, claiming that this went beyond the scope of the current US policy towards Cuba. 

In the case of the GAVIOTA tourism group, it is estimated that if the current restrictions on American tourists to travel to Cuba did not exist, taking into account Cuba’s average 83 per cent occupancy rate, the incomes received by the country would have totaled  258 416 623 dollars which would have very much favored development in this sector.

The information and communications industry has not escaped from the adverse effects of the US policy.  Due to the dominant position of the US companies in the high technology sector, it has been estimated that Cuba’s adverse economic effects amount to approximately 66 766 000 dollars, mainly because of the impossibility to have direct access to that market, both for the import of equipment and technology as well as for the export of services, including other additional costs. 

The company Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., ETECSA,a joint venture that continues to face great difficulties with the import of technology and the purchase of supplies associated to information and communications has been one of the entities experiencing the harshest impact of the blockade.  For this reason alone, ETECSA has recorded losses amounting to more than 14 090 000 dollars.

Other unquantifiable adverse effects can be identified in the prohibitions for acquiring software licenses; denied access to Internet sites and services, including the access to information sites and technical tools as is the case for PC Tools or Netbeans, free softwares, as well as Cuba’s impossibility to attend commercial and other events.   

Cuba’s civil aviation has also continued to be affected by the US blockade.  Between May, 2011, and April, 2012, the losses in this sector have been estimated at 269 125 427 dollars.

Cuba is not allowed to purchase fuel, consumables and general supplies from the US market, so it must resort to third country markets via intermediaries, with the well-known increase in freight costs.  It is estimated that fuel expenses have amounted to five million dollars, since it had to be purchased in the Mediterranean.

At the same time, despite the fact that the Cuban State provides all facilities for US airlines operations at various sites on the Island, the US has remained adamant in its refusal to allow Cuban airlines to fly to that territory.

Transportation has also recorded losses amounting to 182 187 853 dollars.

The company Navegación Caribe (NAVECARIBE) has a total of 90 vessels located at the main ports of Cuba to provide different maritime and port services.  The quality of these services have been adversely affected since they have lacked the minimal essential accessories and resources required to complete the repairs and maintenance cycles due to the increased costs of spare parts, aggregates and other materials.  In terms of freight, losses incurred are estimated at 250 000 dollars.

Between April, 2011 and April, 2012, the Water Resources Institute has recorded losses of approximately 1 989 941 dollars due to the costs of freight and raw materials. 

Cuba is still not allowed to import hydro-meteorological equipment used to studying the water cycle, monitoring the hydrological cycle and carrying out effective hydrological prevention.  The German company Ott Hydromet GMBH refused to sell that equipment to Cuba after receiving a letter from the US Department of Commerce informing that it did not grant the sale license since the equipment bore US patents.  Such refusal adversely affected Cuba’s macro-measurements program, since it was necessary to look for a new supplier.   The arrival of the merchandise was delayed for over six months, a period during which it was impossible to carry out the measurements necessary for hydrological prevention and make a more efficient use of water resources. 

The Mexican company Worthington de México (WDM) was not able to sell Cuba electric motors of the American brand US Motor, that were to be coupled to the water pumps that had to be installed at pumping stations in various sites, because that company’s headquarters in United States became aware of the final destination of that product.  Such refusal caused that the water supply to around 50,000 inhabitants was affected. 

CHAPTER 5. OPPOSITION TO THE GENOCIDAL POLICY OF THE BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA.

5.1 Internal opposition in the United States

The opposition to the US blockade policy against Cuba has also grown during this period.

That opposition has been evidenced in numerous declarations, press  written by important politicians and intellectuals, actions in Congress and state legislatures, NGOs and business sectors, just to name a few.  Some of these actions are listed as follows:  

On May 12, 2011, the New York Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), presented three bills aimed at changing the US policy towards Cuba: H.R.1886 “Export Freedom to Cuba Act, 2011, H.R.1887 Free Trade with Cuba and H.R.1888 Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act, 2011. These initiatives proposed to authorize US citizens’ travels to Cuba, revoke the blockade laws, take Cuba off the list of States sponsoring terrorism and authorize direct transfers with Cuban banking institutions, among other provisions.

On June 23, 2011, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations Act for the fiscal year 2012, which was passed by voice vote. This Act demands OFAC to issue a report on the applications for exchange licenses whose approval is still pending.      

On November 8, 2011, the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) published a study stating that the US policy towards Cuba has failed, that it had isolated the US from the Cuban people and that a change of policy towards Cuba would have a beneficial and lasting impact both on the Cuban and the US societies.  The study calls on President Obama to issue executive orders to facilitate financial flows towards Cuba; urges US authorities to allow Cuba’s access to international credit institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and calls for the elimination of the subversive program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), considering it to be an inappropriate expense of millions of dollars that serves only to increase tensions between Havana and Washington.  That Center is opposed to the US policy towards Cuba and seeks to replace the current approach with one that provides for new policies leading to the normalization of relations and the recognition of the Cuban government.  

On November 18, 2011, researcher Richard Feinberg of the Brookings Institute Research Center, an expert on Latin American affairs who was responsible for the region of Latin America at the National Security Council (during the Clinton administration), presented a report recommending a rapprochement with Cuba by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank in the light of the economic reforms that are going on in the country. Feinberg declared that his report also intended to do away with the US prevailing approach that the sanctions imposed have succeeded in isolating Cuba from the international financial system.

On December 2, 2011, the General Secretary of the US National Council of Churches, Michael Kinnamon, gave a press conference in Havana where he revealed that the church councils of both countries had agreed to work to put an end to the blockade against Cuba.   

On February 6, 2012, the firm Angus Reid Public Opinion published the results of a poll revealing that 62 per cent of Americans favored the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba; 57 per cent favored the lifting of travel restrictions and 51 per cent was opposed to the blockade.  

On March 14, 2012, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Operations Subcommittee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) had an exchange with Rajiv Shah, the USAID administrator, during the debate on that agency’s 2013 budget.   Leahy opposed the blockade and questioned the USAID policy towards Cuba.

On April 11, 2012, the Council for Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) published a report denouncing Washington for its continued irrational and imprudent support of a policy towards Cuba that, in the past five years, has proved to be a mistake.  The report also refers to the reiterated proposals made by the Cuban President Raúl Castro to have a respectful dialogue with the United States on an equal footing; criticizes the subordination of US foreign policy to the extreme right-wing anti-Cuban sectors based in Florida and indicates that Washington’s stubbornness has caused the loss of billions of dollars in sales to the biggest island in the Antilles.

On April 16, 2012, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Jeff Bingaman, stated that "we [the United States] are out of step with our policy with Cuba and ought to change our policy.  He added: “I think we’ve allowed that our policy towards Cuba be dictated by the

On April 17, 2012, The Los Angeles Times published an editorial entitled “Time to Include Cuba” which stated as follows: “The policy of banning Cuba from the gathering of the hemisphere's leaders for nearly 18 years is backfiring. It hasn't led to regime change any more than the 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has; instead, it has fueled frustration among Latin leaders. Today, the United States is the only country in the hemisphere that has not restored diplomatic relations with Havana.   Whatever the reason, the position is not playing well with leaders in the region, who see embargoes and political isolation as anachronistic policies from the Cold War era.”
On April 19, 2012, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops   (USCCB) published a letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting the Obama administration the “complete abolition” of the blockade against Cuba and asking for the re-establishment of bilateral relations.  Furthermore, the letter points out that the US would be establishing relations with a trading partner “who would benefit US commerce".  In that letter, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines (Iowa), who chairs the International Justice and Peace Committee of the USCCB and took part in the visit paid to Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI from March 26 to 28 of 2012, added that during his visit to the Island the members of charitable organizations as well as the representatives of the upper ranks of the Catholic Church in Cuba had told  him on reiterated occasions that their work was being frustrated by their being unable to obtain products from the United States due to the blockade.

On May 4, 2012, several organizations based in the United States that favor the normalization of relations between the two countries described as a “terrorist act” the fire that destroyed the offices of the Cuba charter flights company Airline Brokers in Miami on April 27, 2012.  The text was signed by the Antonio Maceo Brigade, the Alianza Martiana, the Foundation for Normalization of Relations between the United States and Cuba (Fornorm), the Cuban-American Defense League and the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). The groups demanded the White House to lift the restrictions on the flights to the Island. "We consider this action to be a terrorist act not just against this company, but against the rights of all US citizens to travel to Cuba (...) especially the right to share with and help the families of Cuban émigrés”, a member of the Antonio Maceo Brigade stated.

5.2 International opposition

The growing and overwhelming support of the international community to Cuba against the blockade is remarkable. 

Countless voices have been raised in all corners of the world in favor of the cessation of this inhuman policy.  In the period covered by this report numerous statements in favor of the immediate and unconditional lifting of the blockade have been made, the most outstanding being the following:

The Seventeenth Session of the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from June 30 to July 1st, 2011, passed a Resolution on the lifting of the economic and commercial blockade imposed on the Republic of Cuba by the United States of America. The text, which was approved for the second consecutive year, reiterates the “call made to the Government of the United States of America to lift the long-standing and unjustifiable economic and trade embargo imposed on the Republic of Cuba, and thus enable it to enjoy all the legitimate prospects for its sustained development.”  Once again, the government of the United States of America was invited to lift the long-standing and unjustifiable sanctions imposed on the Republic of Cuba.

The non-governmental organization Amnesty International requested President Barack Obama on August 30, 2011 not to prolong the blockade on Cuba.  According to CNN, the text stated that they earnestly requested Obama to continue to move away from that 5-decades-old policy that has proven to be detrimental to human rights. Amnesty International maintained that the blockade has been detrimental to the health conditions of Cubans since it makes it difficult for the country to import medicines, medical equipment and the technology needed to treat some diseases and it also prevents some United Nations agencies and programs from sending support and resources to Cuba. 

During the general debate of the Sixty-sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in September, 2011, senior dignitaries and high-level representatives from 39 member countries of the UN explicitly condemned the blockade and called for an end to it.

The Latin American Council of SELA, at its ministerial meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, on October 20, 2011, approved the declaration called “End to the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba”. The text reminded that the adverse implications of these sanctions affected not only one SELA Member State but that they also impose certain norms and regulations on the international community on how to develop their economic relations with Cuba.  The Declaration “energetically condemns the application of any law or measure contrary to international law, such as the Helms-Burton Act and, likewise, exhorts the government of the United States to put an end to its application” and “requests the administration of President Barack H. Obama to comply with the provisions of the successive resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly”.

The United Nations General Assembly, the international community’s most democratic and representative body, in a new historic vote, unequivocally pronounced itself against the United States blockade on October 25, 2011 when it approved the resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” by 186 votes in favor, 2 against (the United States and Israel) and 3 abstentions. Thirty nine delegations and several regional and sub-regional groups participated in the debate on this issue, such as the Group of 77 and China, the Non-Aligned Movement, CARICOM, the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, MERCOSUR and the associated countries, among others.

The Twenty-first Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government  held in Asunción, Paraguay, on October 28 and 29, 2011, adopted a Special Communiqué on the necessity of ending the economic and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba, including the Helms-Burton Act, in which they reiterate “the strongest rejection against the application of laws and measures contrary to International Law, such as the Helms-Burton Act, and urges the government of the United States of America to cease its implementation.  This Communiqué calls on the government of the United States of America to comply with the twenty successive resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly and put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade it maintains against Cuba”.

The First World Meeting of Bloggers which gathered together more than 400 digital activists, journalists, scholars and students from 23 countries in the Brazilian city of Foz de Iguazú  in October of 2011, rejected "any restriction on the access to the internet, as the one imposed today by the United States in its blockade process against Cuba".

The Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean, meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on December 3, 2011, issued a “Special Communiqué on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba”.  In the Communiqué “they reiterated their most energetic condemnation of the application of laws and measures contrary to international law, such as the Helms-Burton Act, including its extraterritorial effects, and they called on the government of the United States of America to end its application”.  Consequently, they “urged the government of the United States, in compliance with successive resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and in response to reiterated calls from the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade it maintains against Cuba…”

The Port of Spain Declaration, adopted on the occasion of the Fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba that took place in Trinidad and Tobago on December 8, 2011 stated as follows: “we energetically condemn the unilateral and extraterritorial application of coercive laws and measures that run counter to international law, the United Nations Charter and the principles of free navigation and free trade in the world, and we urge the government of the United States of America to listen to the overwhelming call of the members of the United Nations so that it immediately lift the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against the Republic of Cuba”.

The CARICOM–Cuba Summit also approved, separately, a Special Declaration by the Heads of State and Government stating that: “… we feel offended by the interference of the United States in the sovereignty of Trinidad and Tobago.  This constitutes a unilateral and unjustified extraterritorial application of the Helms-Burton Act of the United States, which is contrary to the United Nations Charter and International Law and it also contradicts the overwhelming rejection of this policy expressed by the United Nations General Assembly.” The Declaration rejected “… the intervention by the authorities of the United States which prevented the celebration of the CARICOM-Cuba Summit in the Hilton Hotel. This was one more demonstration of the injustice of the United States blockade and its detrimental effect on the daily life of the Cuban people.  On this occasion, the extraterritorial action could have affected the success of the Summit…” 

The Fourteenth Meeting of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), held in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, on January 23 and 24  this year  adopted a Communiqué in which the leaders expressed their steadfast support for the feelings expressed in the Port of Spain Declaration on the occasion of the Fourth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Cuba, which categorically rejected the unfair and cruel economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Republic of Cuba and the extraterritorial measures designed to extend the scope of the blockade by including third countries.

The Eighth Extraordinary Meeting of the Political Council of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP), held in Havana, Cuba, on February 15, 2012, adopted a Special Declaration on the participation of Cuba at the Sixth Summit of the Americas and the rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on that country by the government of the United States.  In that Declaration they agreed to: “Reiterate the demand that the United States put an end to the application of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba and begin a process of respectful dialogue with that country, on the basis of respect for its sovereignty and the inalienable right of the Cuban people to self-determination”; “unequivocally demand, during the Sixth Summit of the Americas, the cessation of this policy and the lifting of the blockade against Cuba, ……” and “call on the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean so that, as they did at the Fifth Hemispheric Summit of Trinidad and Tobago, they once again call for the cessation of this irrational policy”.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Villy Soevndal, declared on February 28 to the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, regarding the fact that the United States had frozen the payments of a Danish purchaser who intended to buy Cuban cigars in Germany, that “the United States should not get involved in Denmark’s commercial business with Cuban products”. He added: “I don’t think it is fair that the United States interferes with European companies, as in this case, where we are dealing with a legal money transfer between two European companies” and he emphasized that Denmark and the European Union are against the long fifty years of commercial blockade imposed against Cuba”.

On April 13, 2012, the member countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) within the context of the Summit of the Americas, issued a Special Communiqué on their position at the Cartagena Summit. In that document they expressed their decision not to attend the upcoming “Summits of the Americas” if Cuba was not present and urged the government of the United States to immediately cease the implementation of the inhuman economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba and begin a process of dialogue based on the respect for the sovereign will and self-determination of the Cuban people. Almost all of the participating countries at that Summit expressed their opposition to the existence of the blockade.

The ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement who attended the Ministerial Meeting of the Coordinating Bureau that took place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from May 7 to10, 2012, reiterated once again their call on the government of the United States to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba which, besides being unilateral and contrary to the United Nations Charter, the international law and the principle of good neighborly relations, was causing great losses and economic damage to the Cuban people.  Likewise, they once again called for strict compliance with all the resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. They also expressed their deep concern over the expansion of the extraterritorial character of the blockade against Cuba and rejected the strengthening of the measures adopted by the government of the United States of America designed to tighten the blockade, as well as all other recent measures adopted by the government of the United States against the Cuban people.

CONCLUSIONS:

The policy of blockade against Cuba persists and has been intensified despite the attempts of and growing protests by the international community to have the US government change its policy towards Cuba, lift the blockade and normalize bilateral relations between the two countries.

The blockade violates International Law; it is contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and constitutes a violation of the right to peace, development and security of a sovereign State. Its essence and objectives are an act of mass, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of an entire people and qualifies as an act of genocide by virtue of the Geneva Convention of 1948 on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.  It also violates the constitutional rights of the American people, since it puts restrictions on their freedom to travel to Cuba.  Moreover, given its extraterritorial character, it violates the sovereign rights of many other States.

The economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the application of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba until December of 2011, taking into account the devaluation of the dollar vis-à-vis the price of gold and the world market, amounts to 1 trillion 66 billion (1,066,000,000,000) dollars.

At current prices, and based on a very conservative estimate, this figure exceeds 108 billion (108,000,000,000) dollars.

The blockade continues to be an absurd, obsolete, illegal and morally unsustainable policy; it has not succeeded, nor will it succeed, in its attempt to subjugate the patriotic decision of the Cuban people to preserve their sovereignty, independence and right to free self-determination. But it generates shortages and sufferings for the population, it imposes limitations on and delays the development of the country and seriously damages the economy of Cuba.  It is the main obstacle to the economic and social development of the Island. 

The blockade is a unilateral policy, rejected both inside the United States and by the international community.  The United States must lift it, immediately and unconditionally.

Once again, Cuba appreciates and requests the support of the international community in order to put an end to this unfair, illegal and inhuman policy. 

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