Livia Rodríguez Delis (Granma International)
After the U.S. Federal Reserve fined a Swiss bank $100 million (84 million euros) in 2004 for sending money to Cuba, among other sanctioned countries, Cuban María González, secretary of an enterprise and a single parent, has been unable to receive the economic help her mother had been sending her from another country.
“I don’t understand why they do that, since we have not committed any crime. Fortunately, my son is healthy and my problems are only economic ones, but I know sick children who need special treatment and their medicines are delayed for too long; they have to be found in distant countries when they could be bought – close to here – in the United States.”
It is a fact that the U.S. blockade of Cuba continues to be an inhumane reality for the Cuban people, made concrete in the damage suffered by all sectors of the country for more than 50 years.
The Cuban report on UN Resolution 67/4, to be debated and put to a vote in the General Assembly of the organization for the 23rd time on October 29, demonstrates the continuity of this genocidal policy and its effects which, considering the depreciation of the dollar in relation to the gold standard on the international market, had ascended to more than one trillion dollars by April of this year.
There are countless examples which confirm the determination of the U.S. government to maintain the unilateral and extraterritorial measure, flouting its documented rejection by the international community, as well as enterprises and individuals within the United States.
A March 3, 2013 editorial in the Bloomberg business and financial news publication stated that, from 2000-2006, the White House opened 11,000 investigations in the country for alleged violations of sanctions against Cuba and stressed that a further 7,000 were being carried out in relation to other nations.
At the same time, the U.S. administration continues to pursue everything which represents a business opportunity for Cuba through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which has imposed a large number of fines on enterprises, banks and non-governmental organizations which have maintained commercial relations with the island.
One example of that is the sanction of more than one million dollars imposed on the Great Western Malting Co, for facilitating the sale by one of its overseas branches of malted barley, or the fine of more than eight million received by the Japanese Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, for processing financial transfers from a group of countries, including Cuba.
The $6,500 fine imposed on U.S. citizen Zachary Sanders for traveling to Cuba without a license granted by the Treasury Department or the blocking of the purchase of 100 copies of the book The Economic War against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, by Salim Lamrani, which the non-governmental UK Cuba Solidarity Campaign was interested in buying from the New York Monthly Review Press publishing house, could both be described as ridiculous.
The costs generated by Cuba in purchasing medication, reagents, spare parts for diagnostic equipment and treatment, instruments etc, as well as the necessary utilization of intermediaries in the acquisition of these are of great magnitude. This has a direct effect on the population, due to the deterioration of the quality of health services, within the reach of everyone in the country.
The food sector is one of the most affected, given that one of the central objectives of the blockade is to dishearten the Cuban population and force the people to surrender out of hunger.
Even though the purchase of certain U.S. agricultural products is permissible, this kind of business is carried out under an unequitable regimen, as Cuba cannot sell its products on the U.S. market and cannot use dollars in its transactions, among other restrictions.
Education, culture and sports are also constantly hit by this economic warfare, which prevents Cuban students from obtaining school equipment, materials and the exchange of scientific, cultural and sports information involving the United States.
Measures designed to prohibit or condition the normal development of academic exchange, student and professor travel, the flow of scientific information and the acquisition of supplies, media and teaching tools, research and scientific work in general are significant.
As is the case with foreign trade, international investment is another target of the economic blockade, given that it is fundamental to the country’s development.
The growing cost of financing, freight and maritime transportation, combined with pressure on foreign enterprises, all provoke delays in the Cuban investment process and prevent the establishment of joint ventures.
The construction, tourism, communications, energy and mining, civil aviation sectors also feel the impact, given greater financial costs associated with obstacles in bank transactions and the obligatory addition expenses to which they are subjected by the obsessive, inhuman and despicable persecution of the Cuban Revolution.