The Blockade Against Cuba: a Human Rights Issue

The Blockade Against Cuba: a Human Rights Issue

Havana (The Havana Reporter) – The blockade imposed against Cuba by the United States for more than five decades constitutes not only a violation of the Cuban people’s rights, but also those of millions of this planet’s inhabitants.

This siege is meant to force Cubans to abandon their decision to defend their sovereignty and self-determination, by causing them to suffer shortages triggered by an economic, financial and commercial blockade against the Caribbean nation.

Due to its declared purposes and the framework that sustains it, the blockade is classified as an act of genocide by virtue of the 1948 Convention for the Prevention and Sanctions of the Crime of Genocide.

Rather than ceding in the face of repeated UN resolutions calling for its end, the blockade is being increasingly intensified, further highlighting the irrational nature of a policy that isolates the United States from the international community.

This became very clear last October when the UN General Assembly once again approved the resolution on “The need to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

The Cuban proposal was championed by 188 nations. Only the United States and Israel voted against the resolution, while three abstained; namely, Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, which are small and relatively new countries dependent on Washington.

For the 22nd time, the blockade against Cuba was submitted to a vote at the General Assembly.

Meanwhile, many leading U.S. figures and organizations have demanded an end to the aggressive policy that has caused Cuba losses amounting to $1.16 trillion USD.

The Democratic representative for Florida, Kathy Castor, urged President Barack Obama in an open letter to remove the Caribbean nation from the list of terrorism-sponsoring States, and to create conditions for the normalization of bilateral relations.

Another member of Congress, James McGovern, advocates the establishment of formal and direct negotiations with Havana on an ample variety of bilateral issues, including travel restrictions and “economic embargo”.

Similar requests have been made public by the religious organization Baptists Alliance, headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina.

In addition, one may recall the draft bills proposed by the Democrat representative for New York, Charles Rangel, titled; Bill of Free Exportation to Cuba:Free Trade with Cuba , and Bill for the Promotion of Agriculture and Medical Exports.

Likewise, the Vice President of the National Council of Foreign Trade, Jake Colvin, in statements to the Washington Post, said that the majority of people in the U.S. recognize that the blockade has failed in its attempts to change the Cuban political system.

Meanwhile, an editorial in the daily Los Angeles Times has called for the elimination of “obsolete cold war policies,” terming the siege on the Caribbean
nation anachronistic.

Also, former president James Carter, Rev. John McCullough, president of the World Church Service, and Cuban-American organizations, coincide in their opposition to the blockade.

THE BLOCKADE AGAINST THE WORLD

However, the White House has turned a deaf ear, paying little attention to the complaints and harmful side-effects of its anti-Cuba policy, even though its victims may be U.S. enterprises and citizens.

This is precisely what happened last July 22nd, when the Office of Foreign Assets Control , OFAC, in charge of monitoring all transactions the world over, fined the American Express Travel Related Services Company, which is one of the main American tour operators.

This company was fined $5, 226,120 USD for the crime of selling air tickets to U.S. citizens that traveled to Cuba through third countries.

The United States also punished one of Italy’s largest banks. A fine of almost three million dollars was levied on the Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A for processing bank transfers to Cuba from 2004 to 2008.

THE HUMAN DRAMA

Recently, blockade restrictions resulted in Cuba being forced to suspend its consular services in the United States, now temporarily re-established until Feb 17. This measure affects thousands of Cuba-Americans and American citizens interested in traveling or otherwise interacting with Cuba.

Lawyer José Pertierra, whose office in Washington deals with immigration issues, told Prensa Latina that the matter constituted a human tragedy as it brings to light the criminal nature of the blockade.

The paradox here lies in the fact that the State Department was compelled to announce that it is working “actively” to solve the mess by which Cuban missions in the United States (at the United Nations in New York and Cuba’s Interests Section in Washington) are being denied banking services that are indispensable for their functioning.

The fact that Cuba is forced to take that step also shows Washington’s failure to comply with its international obligations as to the treatment and facilities to which diplomatic missions based in U.S. territory are entitled.

This situation will negatively impact family visits, as well as academic, cultural, educational, scientific, and sports exchanges, among others, between Cuba and the United States.

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