End the unjust blockade of Cuba

G Anthony HYLTON
Jamaica Observer – Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For the 20th consecutive occasion, today Cuba will submit for the consideration of the UN General Assembly the draft resolution entitled, “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.

Last year, 187 UN member states voted in favour of this resolution, which is irrefutable proof that the battle for the lifting of the blockade has the recognition and support of the vast majority of the members of the international community.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba remains in place and is further intensified despite the repeated and almost unanimous demand by the international community, particularly the United Nations General Assembly, for its elimination. This results from the September 14, 2009 Presidential Order to extend the application against Cuba of the Trading with the Enemy Act, keeping in place the legal framework in which the policy of blockade against Cuba in 1962 is based.

The measures taken by President Obama on the travel and remittances by Cuban émigrés do not change the complex framework of laws, regulations and provisions of the blockade policy against Cuba. Besides, US citizens are still prohibited from travelling to Cuba, with very few exceptions and through very strict regulations.

As a result of the strict and renewed enforcement of these laws and other normative provisions, Cuba continues to be unable to: freely export or import goods and services to or from the United States, use the US dollar (which is the global reserve currency) in its international financial transactions, have bank accounts, in US dollars, in banks from third countries.

The extra-territorial application of the blockade has been extraordinarily reinforced, as proved by the strengthening of the sanctions and prosecution against third countries’ citizens, institutions and companies that establish or intend to establish economic, commercial, financial or scientific and technical relations with Cuba. The US government thereby abrogates the right to decide on matters that are relative to the sovereignty of other States.

Cuba continues to be unable to trade with US companies in third countries. Likewise, entrepreneurs from third nations who are interested in investing in Cuba are threatened and placed on a blacklist.

The extraterritorial effects of the blockade have particularly impacted on the monetary and financial sphere. In fact, the increased surveillance of Cuba’s international financial transactions, (including those coming from multilateral organisations for the cooperation with the island) has been one of the distinctive features in the implementation of the blockade policy under the current US administration.

From March 2010 to April 2011, there were significant multimillion-dollar fines imposed on US and foreign banking institutions for engaging in operations connected in one way or the other with deterrence. These kinds of sanctions have had an effect and, in the case of banks in particular, entail breaking relations with Cuba and/or forcing Cuban transactions to be made under more precarious conditions. These include banking arrangements with financial institutions here in Jamaica.

Cuba continues to be unable to have access to bank credits from banks in the United States, their subsidiaries in third countries and from international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Inter-American Development Bank.

No blockade has ever been as far-reaching, prolonged and impactful against a people as the one being implemented by the United States against Cuba for half a century.

The blockade violates international law and is against the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. It is a transgression of the right of a sovereign State to peace, development and security and, in its essence and objectives, an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of a country and I dear say to the entire Caribbean region.

The direct economic damage to the Cuban people by the implementation of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba is incalculable.

The blockade is a relic of the Cold War era and continues to be an absurd, illegal and morally unsustained policy that has not succeeded and will not likely to succeed in fulfilling the purpose of breaking the political will of the Cuban people to preserve its sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination. However, it causes shortages and needless suffering to the Cuban population, limits and restrains the development of the country and seriously damages the Cuban economy. It is one of the main hindrances to Cuba’s economic and social development.

The People’s National Party has long been of the view that this issue of the blockade against Cuba has long ceased to be a foreign policy matter for the United States. What else can explain the contradiction in the handling of this matter but the activist role of Cuban Americans in South Florida, New Jersey, New York and elsewhere in the US? I have said as much to the previous Secretary of State, Ms Condoleeza Rice, when I indicated in a meeting with her that the difficulty for countries like Jamaica in discussing this matter of Cuba with our partner and friends in the US is that a resolution of this issue is being held hostage to US domestic political interests.

What else would explain the US rapprochement with communist countries such as Vietnam and China (to name a few), and the extension of the blockade policy against Cuba?

The blockade is a unilateral and immoral policy which is rejected both within the United States and by the international community.

We hope that those governments, including our government, committed as we are, to the norms of the multilateral trading system, to the freedom of trade and navigation and to the rejection of the extraterritorial application of national law, will vote today in favour of the draft resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, which demands the lifting of the said US blockade.

G Anthony Hylton is the Jamaican Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade.
Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/pfversion/End-the-unjust-blockade-of-Cuba_10009114#ixzz1bnrYmIwR

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