The U.S. Blockade on Cuba Is Not a Bilateral Measure


On October 25th, a vote will be taken at the United Nations on the issue of the U.S. blockade on Cuba. The United States has always claimed that the issue should not discussed at the United Nations because each government has the right to choose the countries they want to keep relations with, and therefore consider the embargo of Cuba as a bilateral issue.


It is true that bilateral relations are not of the concern of the United Nations. The differences between Cuba and the United States, however, go beyond bilateral boundaries. Both countries disagree on the definition of this extraterritorial policy, which the United States insists in calling an ‘embargo,’ but Cubans clearly perceive as a blockade.


When it is referred to as ‘blockade’ it does not mean that the United States does not want to have business relations with Cuba and Cubans insist in establishing such relations. It rather makes reference to a series of congressional laws, decrees and presidential amendments aimed at constantly hindering Cuba’s business relations and suffocate a country to which the United States has not declared war. U.S. regulations target third countries and put all kinds of pressure on third parties, including state-run and private business. The Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts are good examples of this punitive policy towards the island nation.


It is not an embargo, it is a blockade, because it is extraterritorial and escapes U.S. jurisdiction in that third countries are systematically prohibited from exporting goods to Cuba, specifically products which include parts or technology manufactured in the United States. Subsidiaries operating with U.S. capital in third countries are also prohibited from establishing commercial and economic relations with Cuba, and the importation of Cuban products, even in the form of products included in products manufactured and semi-manufactured by third countries, is forbidden. This illegal and uncivilized policy also boycotts Cuba’s dealings with financial and credit institutions, who risk severe sanctions if they dare to trade with Cuba.


In countless occasions the possibility for Cuba to import products aimed at satisfying basic human needs has been denied – and not only in the United States. The U.S. government makes pressure on third countries to impede this, and many times negotiations are impossible due to the prohibition that products containing more than 10 percent of US-made parts or materials cannot be exported to Cuba, without obtaining a permit first.


According to U.S. blockade regulations, products containing components or materials made in the United States cannot be directly or indirectly exported to Cuba. Not even in those cases in which such components or materials have been completely transformed into new products entirely manufactured in third countries.


There are no express exceptions in the case of medicines, which in May 1964 became subject to specific licenses granted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Moreover, section 385.1 establishes that, as part of the foreign policy of the government of the United States, the need for previous authorization of the U.S. Department of Commerce to export or re-export virtually any product or technical information of American origin to Cuba. Add to this that denying such permits is almost the established policy in this department, with some exceptions when it comes to matters of a humanitarian nature.


But, what does the United States understand by ‘humanitarian’? Cuba could present countless examples to prove that it is impossibility to purchase medical and laboratory equipment, even for diagnosing serious diseases such as cancer, and other medicines and reactants produced by U.S. laboratories, among others.


It is obvious that the U.S. blockade is not a bilateral measure, and that they are simply trying to avoid the issue due to the negative implications it may have in the eyes of the international community, given the ineffectiveness and irrational character of this genocidal measure.

( editorial Granma )

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