Stepped-Up Blockade of Cuba Opposed at the U.N.

October 6, 2011

In a report to the U.N. General Assembly, the Cuban government demanded the immediate and unconditional lifting of the blockade on Cuba.

At the current session of the U.N. General Assembly the Cuban representative is being joined by representatives from many countries throughout the world in calling for an end to the blockade. This year the resolution, "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba" is expected to pass by an overwhelming majority, condemning the U.S. blockade for the 20th consecutive time.

The report from Cuba clearly shows that the Obama administration is preserving and intensifying the blockade. Below we reprint excerpts.


The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States government against Cuba has been maintained and further tightened despite the growing and categorical demand by the international community —in particular the United Nations General Assembly— for its elimination...

Despite the official rhetoric intended to persuade international public opinion into believing that the current US government has implemented a policy of positive changes, Cuba remains unable to trade with any subsidiaries of US companies based in third countries; and businesspersons from third countries interested in investing in Cuba are systematically harassed and blacklisted.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the current US administration's implementation of the blockade has been an upsurge in the persecution of Cuba's international financial transactions, including those that stem from multilateral organizations that cooperate with Cuba.

CHAPTER I. Continued policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

The United States' economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba continues to be fully applied. The legal basis behind this policy remains intact and the political, administrative and repressive mechanisms aimed at a more efficient implementation of the blockade, particularly the persecution and harassment of Cuba's commercial and financial transactions around the world have been intensified.

Exports of every sort of goods and services by Cuba to the United States continue to be banned, as have exports of virtually any goods or services from the United States to Cuba, with very few exceptions and under very strict regulations. Merchant ships of any country touching Cuban ports are still forbidden to call on any US port for a period of 180 days.

No company affiliated to or sharing interests with any US company is allowed to trade with any Cuban company, regardless of the relations that may exist between Cuba and the country where the company is based, the laws in force in its country of origin or the norms of international law. Those companies based in third countries that have commercial relations with Cuba are subject to persecution, threats and sanctions by US government authorities no matter where in the world they might be and regardless of their origin, patrimony and whether or not they have ties with the United States.

The persecution of Cuba's financial transactions with third countries has intensified regardless of the relations these countries may have with Cuba, the currency used in those transactions or the applicable banking norms in the countries involved.

As a rule of law, the US government prevents its citizens from travelling to Cuba, with very few exceptions and under very strict regulations.

The US government continues to publicly assert its alleged need to preserve the blockade as "a tool to apply pressure" and maintains its conditions regarding internal order in Cuba as a prerequisite to modify its policy towards the island. Evidently, it has no intention whatsoever to bring about a change in its policy towards the Island or abide by the resolutions that have been repeatedly adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that call for an end to this inhumane policy.

The measures announced by the US government on January 14, 2011 —including lifting the travel ban to Cuba for US citizens for academic, educational, cultural and religious purposes; authorizing remittances in limited quantities by US citizens to Cuban citizens; and authorizing US international airports to request permission to operate direct charter flights to Cuba under certain conditions— are insufficient and limited in scope.

Essentially these measures are not indicative of the United States government's will to substantially change its blockade policy, but rather reflect the increasing opposition to the blockade by broad sectors of the US public.

By implementing the measures announced on January 14, the US government was aiming to portray a positive image of its failed policy towards Cuba at a time when domestic and international opposition to that policy was overwhelming. However, such measures are fundamentally limited to reinstating some provisions that were in effect in the 1990s under the Clinton administration and were discontinued by George W. Bush beginning in 2003. The constitutional right of US citizens to travel freely continues to be an illusion in the 21st century. They continue to be the only citizens in the world who are forbidden to travel to Cuba.

Upon announcing these measures, the US government very clearly stated that the blockade will remain intact and that it intends to use these measures to strengthen the mechanisms of subversion and interference in Cuba's internal affairs.

1.1 Principal measures to continue the blockade adopted by the US government.

The US government has maintained the entire framework of laws and administrative provisions that are part of the blockade's legal basis and regulations. The basics of that policy have not been modified. This is seen in the laws and regulations in force listed below:

Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA): Enacted as a war measure in 1917 to restrict trade with nations considered hostile, the implementation of this law was subsequently expanded to enable the president to regulate property transaction involving any US national in a foreign country whether in times of war or "any other period of national emergency declared by the president." The first regulations of the blockade against Cuba of 1962 are based on this law.

On September 2, 2010, President Obama announced the expansion of the Trading with the Enemy Act, which, in practice, is supposed to ensure the continuation of the blockade against Cuba. A memorandum, drafted by the president to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, confirms that "the continuation of these measures regarding Cuba is convenient to US national interests."

Foreign Assistance Act: Enacted in September 1961 by the US Congress, this law authorizes the president of that country to impose and maintain "a total blockade on trade between the United States and Cuba." In addition, it forbids the granting of any kind of assistance to the Cuban government.

The Export Administration Act (EAA): Adopted in 1979 as a result of a review made on export regulations, this law vested the president with the authority to monitor all exports and reexports of goods and technology, particularly those which might be considered as detrimental to US national security.

Cuban Democracy Act (CDA): This law, better known as the Torricelli Act, was passed by President Bush Senior in October 1992. With this law, the US government tightened the economic measures against Cuba and provided a regulatory framework for the blockade's extraterritoriality. This law forbids US subsidiaries in third countries to carry out any transaction with Cuba or Cuban nationals and prevents the entry of third country vessels into US territory for a period of 180 days after they have touched Cuban ports, among other restrictions.

Cuban Freedom and Democratic Solidarity Act: Known as the Helms-Burton Act, this law was adopted by President Clinton in March of 1996 with the primary objective to hinder and discourage foreign investments in Cuba and to internationalize the blockade against the Island. It codified the provisions of the blockade, limited the prerogatives of the president to suspend the implementation of this policy and expanded its extraterritoriality. This law prevented the entry into the US of foreign company executives (and their relatives) who invest in "confiscated" properties in Cuba and provided for the possibility to file lawsuits against them in US Courts.

Export Administration Regulations (EAR): These laws come under the Trading with the Enemy Act and the Exports Administration Act, and regulate exceptions to the Exports Administration Act or those which are authorized through licenses issued by the Bureau of Industry and Security of the US Department of Commerce.

The scope of the aforementioned laws and regulations reveal that no other blockade has been as brutal and encompassing as that applied by the United States against Cuba.

1.2 Extraterritorial application of the blockade.

After more than two years of a Democrat administration that hoped to impress the world with its talk of change and renovation, the US policy against Cuba has been characterized by an intensification of the extraterritoriality of the blockade. The US government has intensified sanctions and the extraterritorial persecution of citizens, institutions and companies in third countries who establish or plan to establish economic, commercial, financial, scientific or technical ties with Cuba; thus assuming the right to make decisions regarding issues that are the sovereignty of other States.

Likewise, the dominant role played by the United States in the global economy and in strategic alliances, mergers and mega-mergers of international companies has continued to have a negative impact on Cuba and facilitated the intensification of the negative effects of the blockade, while further reducing the international economic sphere in which Cuba is allowed to operate.

The extraterritoriality of this policy is based on the following guidelines:

• US subsidiaries in third countries are forbidden to have any kind of transaction with companies based in Cuba.

• Companies from third countries are forbidden to export products of Cuban origin or products that have a component of Cuban origin to the US.

• Companies from third countries are forbidden to sell goods or services to Cuba, whose technology contains more than 10% of US components, even though their owners may be nationals of those countries.

• Vessels carrying products to or from Cuba, regardless of their country of registration, are forbidden to enter US ports.

• Third country banks are forbidden to open accounts in US dollars for Cuban juridical or natural persons or to carry out financial transactions in said currency with Cuban entities or persons.

• Third country businesspersons are penalized for making investments or carrying out business with Cuba. If they do, they are denied visas to enter the US which can be extended to include their family members, and are subject to legal action before US courts in the event that operations with Cuba are related to properties associated with claims filed by US citizens (including those who were born in Cuba and acquired citizenship at a later date).

From March 2010 to April 2011 there were several multimillion dollar fines levied against US and foreign banking institutions for having conducted operations with Cuba. These types of sanctions have a detrimental effect and, in the case of banks, entail breaking relations with Cuba and/or forcing Cuban transactions to be made under more precarious conditions.

The persecution and harassment of individuals and companies in third countries has reached absurd levels, confirming the extraterritorial nature of the blockade...

1.3 Adverse effects of the blockade on cooperation with multilateral organizations

Under the Obama administration, the adverse effects of the blockade as part of the US's policy against Cuba have increased in the framework of international multilateral organizations.

In January 2011, the US government seized 4,207,000 dollars of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria earmarked for the implementation of cooperation projects with Cuba to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

This deliberate act to prevent the implementation of three projects whose significant impact on the affected population is well known has absolutely no legitimacy or foundations other than to continue to harden the policy of blockade in one of the most vulnerable sectors for the Cuban government and people.

Cuba has condemned this measure as an illegal action that also has aims to seriously hinder international cooperation provided by the United Nations System through its agencies, funds and programs. This action is even more significant given that it affects funds earmarked for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis training, prevention and patient assistance, especially to buy medicine, antiretrovirals and food...


Despite the intense and growing demands by the international community for the US government to change its policy towards Cuba, lift the blockade and normalize bilateral relations with Cuba, the Obama administration has maintained the blockade policy intact.

The blockade violates International Law, runs contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and constitutes a contravention of a sovereign state's right to peace, development and security. In its essence and objectives, the blockade represents an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of a nation. The blockade constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of an entire people. It also violates the constitutional rights of US citizens by denying them the freedom to travel to Cuba, and encroaches on the sovereign rights of many other states because of its extraterritorial nature.

As of December 2010, the direct economic damages to the Cuban people caused by the implementation of the United States' economic, commercial and financial blockade, based on current prices and very conservative estimates, amounts to more than 104 billion dollars.

Taking into account the extreme devaluation of the dollar against the price of gold on the international financial market during 2010 and this continual trend, the damages caused to the Cuban economy would exceed 975 billion dollars.

The blockade continues to be an absurd, illegal and morally unjustifiable policy which has not succeeded and never will succeed in undermining the Cuban people's patriotic decision to defend its sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination. It has only succeeded in subjecting the Cuban population to shortages and needless suffering, in restricting and hindering the development of the country and in seriously damaging the Cuban economy. It is the greatest obstacle Cuba faces in its economic development...

The blockade is a unilateral and immoral policy which is condemned both within the United States and by the international community. The United States must lift it immediately and unconditionally...