The Guardian • Issue #2046

Call to end Cuban embargo: 63 years of suffering

ACFS Perth rallied against the blockade, Monday 20th September 2021.

On 10th February 2023, local councillors in Washington DC put up resolution PR25-0113 calling for the Biden administration to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List and to lift the 63-year-old US political and economic blockade (el bloqueo) of the Caribbean Island.

Within the United States, at least 67 resolutions have been passed by state legislatures, county and city councils and school boards. Lobbying groups such as Engage Cuba have also called for the end of the embargo of the Republic of Cuba.

For decades there have been calls against the US economic embargo. The majority of the countries in the United Nations General Assembly have voted more than 30 times to end the embargo, passing a resolution every year since 1992.

The US and Israel are the only nations to consistently vote against these resolutions. Political pressure from the anti-Castro lobbying groups in Florida and the anti-Communist Right Wing in the USA ensure the embargo remains.

In 1959, with the collapse of the Batista regime, the rebel forces under Fidel Castro took over the island nation. The Castro government ended the Mafia control of night clubs and stopped the massive corruption of the previous regime. The Socialist government stopped the US corporations’ hold over the Cuban economy, nationalising large land holdings to be given to the peasant farmers. These achievements did not go down well with the US government.

In 1960 Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Lestor Mallory, called for a blockade, an “embargo” of Cuba, which the Eisenhower administration implemented. On 7th February 1962, under the Kennedy administration, the embargo was extended to include almost all Cuban exports. During the Missile Crisis in October 1962, a blockade of the island almost led to World War III, when US warships dropped depth charges on Soviet submarines carrying nuclear warheads.

The Johnson administration adopted the policy of “economic denial,” using the member countries of the OAS (Organisation of American States) and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) to apply political pressure on Cuba for the Socialist government to step down. Only Spain and Mexico refused to cooperate with US imperialist demands.

Following the end of the USSR and the East European socialist bloc of countries in 1991, Cuba had few trading partners and no financial, military, or political aid. The US government reinforced its blockade with new restrictive measures, when Cuba was at the peak of its worst economic crisis since 1959.

The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton Act) restricted US citizens from doing commerce in or with Cuba and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana until US claims were met. In 1999, President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo by stopping foreign subsidiaries of US companies trading with Cuba. The following year Clinton authorised the sale of food and humanitarian products to Cuba, which was experiencing an economic crisis.

The relaxation of sanctions under Obama, was stopped by the Trump administration, which thrust new sanctions upon the Cuban people. On 17th May 2022, the Biden Administration reinstated “the Cuba Family Reunification Parole program and increasing consular services, lifting a $1,000 cap on family remittances, increasing support for Cuban entrepreneurs, and expanding authorised travel.” The “Cuban government-and military-aligned companies” were not removed from the Cuba Restricted List.

In January 2012, an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll showed that 57 percent of Americans called for an end to the travel ban that prevented US citizens from visiting Cuba. In 2015 Al Jazeera reported that since its inception in 1960, the embargo had cost the Cuban economy US$1.1 trillion. On 1st June 2022, the US Transportation Department lifted restrictions on flights to Cuba. The embargo continues to stifle the national economy, creating further suffering for the poor on this Caribbean Island.

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