By International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR) – Association of Antifascists. From the 2023-13 edition of their newsletter.
For more than 60 years, the USA has been covering the Caribbean island with an economic war. Year after year, Cuba loses billions of dollars in funds that would be urgently needed for economic development. In practice, the blockade means that access to important medicines is lacking, for example. The reason for this decades-long merciless economic, trade and financial blockade is the anger of the U.S. administration that “right on its doorstep” a state is evading U.S. political dominance and has established and continues to develop an alternative, socialist model of society. The parliamentary elections have just shown that the overwhelming majority of the Cuban population, despite all the economic difficulties, is following this path.
For several years now, the UN General Assembly in New York adopted a resolution calling for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on the island by the United States. For years, an overwhelming majority, with few votes against and abstentions, has adopted it. The clearest vote was in 2016, 191-0, when even the Obama administration did not oppose the resolution.
Under Trump, the situation has deteriorated again. The peak of depravity was shown by the U.S. administration in the Corona pandemic. Cuba, despite its own problems, sent 3,000 medical workers to 28 countries (including European ones) to help fight the Covid 19 pandemic. However, U.S. Secretary of State and ex-CIA Director Mike Pompeo called it “human trafficking,” after which Republican hardliners in the U.S. Congress filed a bill to put pressure on countries that had brought Cuban medical personnel into the country.
Nevertheless, President Biden has also shown no willingness to lift sanctions.
EU member states have voted against the blockade for years and condemn its extraterritorial expansion, which also affects European companies and institutions, yet they still bow to the U.S. sanctions policy against Cuba, which is contrary to international law. Some concrete examples:
By activating the so-called Section III of the Helms-Burton Act, U.S. citizens can sue third-country companies and institutions in U.S. courts, if they use Cuban property that was expropriated after the 1959 revolution. This is de facto directed against all Cubans and all institutions on the island. Village schools built on land that once belonged to large landowners may be affected. On the other hand, hotels that were once part of the U.S. mafia empire.
Even online retailer Amazon has been sued for selling Cuban charcoal.
Penalties have been imposed on shipping companies that transport oil from Venezuela to Cuba. Other measures are being taken to try to stop trade between Cuba and Venezuela.
The blockade policy has dramatic consequences for the population in Cuba:
Money transfers from family members are made impossible, international support for health projects or the construction of social institutions is hindered, even important medicines can only be imported in a roundabout way and at excessive cost.
However, the European governments do not talk about these consequences and do not become active in any way against the US blockade and its devastating effects for the people in Cuba.
The international Cuba solidarity and with it the FIR demands already for a long time that the vote of the UN general assembly against the blockade finally also concrete deeds follow. Therefore, we refer our member federations to the European-wide “Unblock Cuba” campaign of this year, which is opened at the end of March 2023 with a meeting in Berlin. There, Fernando González Llort, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with Peoples (ICAP) and member of the Cuban National Assembly (he was one of the “Cuban Five”), and Ibis González, ICAP’s coordinator for Europe, will report on the effects of the US blockade policy.
As a culmination of this year’s campaign, an international tribunal against the blockade is planned for fall 2023 in Brussels. FIR and its member associations are invited to support these actions with their own contributions.