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Issue #1477      20 October 2010

Australian groups call on President Obama to end the US blockade of Cuba

The Australia Cuba Friendship Society draws attention to the failure of the Obama administration to respond to the will of the international community over its economic blockade of Cuba.

In 2009, 187 countries at the United Nations, including Australia, called for an end to “the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. President Obama did nothing. On October 26 this year Cuba will present its 19th similar motion at the United Nations. It is certain to again receive overwhelming support.

The US blockade is in violation of a number of international laws, including trade, maritime and telecommunications commitments. Cuba’s 2010 report to the UN estimates total damages, adjusted for inflation, over the past half century at more than US$750 billion.

Although the Obama administration removed some additional limitations on family visits between the two countries, which had been imposed by the Bush administration, it has maintained the bulk of the blockade measures, through such actions as:

  • Invoking the “national interest” provisions of the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act;
  • Maintaining third-party sanctions under the 1996 Helms Burton Act;
  • Renewing “national emergency” measures by Presidential proclamation, which restrict the movement of vessels around Cuba;
  • Offering new but heavily restricted internet links to Cuba, which would still require special licenses from the US Treasury; and
  • Allocating over US$30 million in funds (in 2010) for radio and TV propaganda broadcasts aimed at Cuba and which violate Cuba’s sovereign prerogatives.

The US blockade has denied Cuban children access to life saving technologies and medicines, prevents normal food trade and has blocked a wider range of academic, scientific, cultural and sports exchange.

In addition to the Australia Cuba Friendship Societies (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide), Sydney’s Latin American Social Forum, the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba (Western Suburbs), Amigos de Cuba (Sydney), the Construction Forestry and Mining Employees Union (CFMEU), the Maritime Union of Australia and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) have added their voices to the international rejection of the US blockade.

The Australia Cuba Friendship Society calls on all people of goodwill to join the global campaign, demanding an end to the US economic blockade of Cuba. 

Next article – Brits battle health privatisation

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