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From Kennedy to Trump: the history of the war against Cuba

A large majority of Cubans were born under the ongoing U.S. sanctions, a political genocide, violating the human rights of Cuban citizens. A policy that has been in place for nearly six decades and that is somehow justified by the world and allowed to continue. 

 

John F. Kennedy

Orlando Oramas León

 

 The U.S.’s economic, financial and commercial sanctions against Cuba have formally been in place for 58 years, but before that, Washington imposed sanctions against the Cuban Revolution. On 3 February 1962, President John F. Kennedy ordered a full trade embargo with the neighbouring island under section 260(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act. But, in reality, that Act was already being applied as part of a hostile policy against Cuba which included an attempt to overthrow the revolution through the invasion of April 1961 and by supporting armed groups which spread fear across the archipelago.

Nearly 60 years ago, Presidential Proclamation 3437 of February 1963 made the U.S. economic, financial and commercial war against Cuba official.

Ever since, the Regulations on Cuban Asset Control issued by the Treasury Department stipulate that all Cuban assets in the U.S. are frozen.

The U.S. also prohibits all financial and commercial translations with Cuba unless they are approved by federal licence.

Similarly, there is a ban on Cuban exports to the northern country and any transactions in dollars with Cuba with any natural or legal person in the U.S. or third countries. Legislation, regulations and decrees firmly protect the embargo against the largest island of the Antilles, in the quest to supress, through hunger, illnesses and needs, its habitants for supporting the revolutionary process.

Donald Trump

The Cuban Democracy Act (or the Torricelli Bill) of 1992 establishes a milestone in the framework of the embargo and in its extraterritorial nature.

Under Torricelli, U.S. companies and their subsidiaries in other countries are not allowed to trade with Cuba or Cuban nationals.

Third country vessels that call at a Cuban port are not allowed to enter U.S. territory within a 180-day period except for those that are licensed by the Secretary of the Treasury.

This measure intends to make trade with the Caribbean island incredibly difficult and covers the supply of essential goods to the population and the economy.

The Helms-Burton Act, enacted in 1996 under Bill Clinton’s government, codified the provisions of the embargo and broadened its extraterritorial scope.

There is a notable increase of anti-Cuban actions with the arrival of Donald Trump to the White House and a firm reinforcement of the embargo. This intention was formally recorded on 16 June 2017.

On this date, in Florida, Trump signed a presidential memorandum on the policy against Cuba, announcing the reversal of rapprochement instigated by his predecessor Barack Obama (2009-2017) and imposing new restrictions on individual travel and trade.

Under that premise, in September of that year, the State Department announced the withdrawal of the majority of its diplomatic staff in Havana and the suspension of issuing visas.

From there, the Trump administration decided upon additional measures that make it difficult for Cuban citizens to obtain visas; they would need to be processed in U.S. consulates in other countries.

At the end of 2017, Washington announced other restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba which included a list of 180 Cuban entities and subsidiaries which the U.S. is not allowed to trade with.

This blacklist has been added to since then and now includes over 200 companies and entities.

On 5 April last year, the White House imposed sanctions against vessels and companies in the Venezuelan oil sector that were transporting oil to Cuba. This measure was repeated on a number of occasions throughout the year and led to a shortage of energy suppliers on the island.

Also, on 2 May 2019, U.S. authorities activated Title III of the Helms-Burton Act which led to a number of lawsuits against Cuban companies and companies in other countries with business and investments in Cuba.

In addition, travel by cruise, private plane and yachts to the island were prohibited and new restrictions were imposed upon visits by Cuban nationals as well as on shipments.

Since September 2019, the U.S. has intensified its crusade against the Cuban medical missions’ programme abroad.

At the end of last year, a measure which prevents U.S. commercial airlines from travelling to all destinations in Cuba (except for Havana) came into force. In January 2020 the same measure was imposed upon chartered flights.

Today the implications affect all aspects of life, access to medication and health technology, sport, academic exchange and ensure that Cuban civil servants and scientists are unable to attend international events in the United States. (PL)

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: corrine.harries@ch-translations.com)Photos: Pixabay

 

 

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