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Cruel and Irrational Attack against Cuba


On November 8, for the fifteenth time, the UN General Assembly condemned the inhuman economic sanctions that the United States has maintained against Cuba since July 6, 1960. After the draconian measures adopted on May 6, 2004, and July 10, 2006, the White House continues its irrational and cruel policy by increasing pressure on the Caribbean island [1].

On October 10, 2006, a new group was created to reinforce restrictions against Cuba. The objective of this group is to go after and prosecute travel agencies, companies and citizens that break the laws against Cuba.
 
The U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida, Alexander Acosta, announced the new task force which is called the Cuba Sanctions Enforcement Task Force (CSETF). It is made up of several government agencies such as the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Commerce Department and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) [2].

Acosta said that enforcing sanctions against Cuba is a political priority of the United States. “We want to make it perfectly clear that federal agencies are fully alert and will make sure they enforce the regulations against Cuba.” If we have evidence of a violation the violator risks being penalized with up to 10 years in prison and 1 million dollar fine [3].

Thus, any Cuban who visits his ill mother, who stays on the island for more than 14 days every three years, who spends more than $50.00 US a day during their 14-day stay, who sends a remittance to a cousin, aunt or his father, if his father is a member of the Communist Party, and who doesn’t have a license issued by the Treasury Department can be condemned to 10 years in prison and/or a $1 million fine. Likewise, any American tourist who spends a weekend in Havana could get the same punishment [4].

The U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida justified these measures and emphasized the importance of “hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.’ According to OFAC, travel between Cuba and the U.S. decreased 54 percent since 2004. In 2005, the U.S. blockade cost Cuba $4.1 billion for a whopping total of $86 billion since 1960. [5]

Economic sanctions against Cuba are also extraterritorial in nature and affect foreign companies. Any product which contains 10 percent or more of any U.S. component cannot be exported to Cuba. Likewise, any product containing any Cuban component at all, cannot be sold in the   For example, a French baking company has to prove to the U.S. Treasury Department that its products do not contain a single gram of Cuban sugar before distributing them.  A Japanese automobile company also has to prove that its cars do not contain any Cuban nickel before having access to markets in the U.S.A.

The U.S. government has just added Dutch bank Netherlands Caribbean Bank (NCB), a branch of the ING group, to its blacklist because of its trade relations with Cuba. Now, NCB cannot conduct business with any U.S. citizen or company. The economic sanctions against Cuba are not a bilateral matter at all. [6]

In March 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department stopped close to 100 American scientists, neurologists, and physicians from attending the Fourth International Conference on Dying and Coma in Havana. According to authorities, such participation was not in line with U.S. foreign policy. [7]

In September 2006, the U.S. denied a visa to Cuban Health Minister Jose Ramon Balaguer, invited to participate in a meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), from September 25-29. He could not attend the event despite the fact that Cuba was one of the founding members of that organization. Again, Washington did not respect the obligations of countries that headquarter the international organizations of the United Nations. [8]

There are endless examples of the adverse effects of the U.S. economic sanctions. It is time to end this sordid and cruel attack against the Cuban population.

 

Notes

1 Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington : United States Department of State, May 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf ; Condolezza Rice & Carlos Gutierrez, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington : United States Department of State, July 2006). www.cafc.gov/documents/organization/68166.pdf

2 Wilfredo Cancio Isla, « Crean grupo para reforzar embargo a Cuba », El Nuevo Herald, October 11, 2006 ; South Florida Business Journal, « U.S. to Step Up Cuba Sanction Enforcement », October 10, 2006 ; Jay Weaver, « New Task Force to Target Cuba ban Offenders », The Miami Herald, October 11, 2006.

3 Ibid.

4 Salim Lamrani, Cuba face à l’Empire (Genève : Timéli, 2006), pp. 139-54.

5 Curt Anderson, « Fed Task Force to Enforce Cuba Sanctions », Associated Press, October 10, 2006.

6 Reuters, « ING Unit Put On US Blacklist For Cuba Business », October 3, 2006.

7 Kenneth Gross, « Construir el Puente de Michi », Cuba Debate, September 28, 2006 ; Kenneth Gross, « , The Washington Times, September 18, 2006.

8 Prensa Latina, « Cuba acusa a EE.UU de obstruir cooperación médica », September 26, 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

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