The US Blockade Affects both Cuba and the USA
Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES — Recently, the resolution titled “The Need to Put an End to the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed on Cuba by the United States of America” was voted on at the UN General Assembly for the 24th time and, again, it was approved almost unanimously, with the only the United States and Israel voting against it.
The report submitted to the Assembly by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez presents details and figures illustrating how much damage the US blockade has caused the people of Cuba, data I will not share, as it is more than well known by most.
When, on December 17 of 2014, the presidents of Cuba and the United States announced that they would re-establish diplomatic relations between the two countries, Barack Obama acknowledged that the policy of blockade had failed and that it was harming the people of Cuba without securing its original objective, that is, overthrowing the revolutionary government and bringing back neoliberal capitalism to Cuba.
In his speech, Obama also declared that “Neither the American, nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”
Elsewhere in his address, he stated: “I believe that American businesses should not be put at a disadvantage, and that increased commerce is good for Americans and for Cubans.”
In this statement, Obama made it clear that the blockade was only detrimental to the people of Cuba, but also to US companies, which remain at a disadvantage before those of other countries (which have been doing business with Cuba for decades).
This year, numerous US entrepreneurs and governors from several states, as well as the Secretary for Agriculture and the Chair of the Chamber of Commerce, have visited the island and expressed an interest in doing business with Cuba as soon as the blockade is lifted.
Even though Obama didn’t mention it, Cuba has unique products that are of interest to the United States public in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries and could reach them if trade relations with Cuba are normalized.
Recently, Cubadebate translated and published an article from The Huffington Post from which I will quote a number of excerpts, to demonstrate how important US scientists consider the products developed by Cuban science to be.
“When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) headed to Havana on a historic trade mission in April, he returned with the promise of an important commodity: a Cuban-developed lung cancer vaccine.”
“The vaccine, called CimaVax, has been researched in Cuba for 25 years and became available for free to the Cuban public in 2011. The country’s Center for Molecular Immunology signed an agreement last month with Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York to import CimaVax and begin clinical trials in the United States.”
This is but one example of the many we could invoke, such as the medication Heberprot-P, which has prevented thousands of lower limb amputations in Cuba and many other countries, and which US citizens have not been able to benefit from because the blockade bars the US from purchasing the product – additional proof, if needed, that this obsolete policy not only harms the Cuban people, but US citizens as well.
7 thoughts on “The US Blockade Affects both Cuba and the USA”
dann: what you heard makes zero sense. I travel from the US to Cuba 5-6 times a year and have done so for years. I am one of the 600,000 US citizens who travel to Cuba legally year. A smaller number travel illegally with nothing happening.
“harassed by the FBI”??? I can assure you that US citizens going to Cuba is not in the top 40 priorities of ANY US law enforcement agency. OFAC, who has responsibility for Cuba, also has responsibility for ISIS, Al Qaeda, other terrorist organizations, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, and others. Imagine where OFAC devotes their resources.
When you tell the US Customs and Border Patrol officer that you are returning from Cuba, the response invariably is “Welcome Home”.
“US travel to Cuba certainly is not impacted by the embargo. Aside from the fact that the travel ban has not been enforced for over ten years,”
This contradicts what I’ve heard from young Americans visiting Cuba. They claim that they are harassed by the FBI when they return to the USA.
Castro sycophants have a habit of describing the potential benefits of normal relations between the US and Cuba as a balanced economic equation. This is simply not true. The US could purchase $1 billion of Cuban goods and services and it wouldn’t show up as a rounding error on US balance sheets. On the other hand, $1 billion more in revenues to the Castro coffers would be life-changing for the Cuban people. Elio obviously doesn’t realize this yet: it isn’t that Americans don’t know that there are measurable benefits in doing business with Cuba, a poor third-world country of 11 million people. Roughly the purchasing power of a small Midwestern US city. Americans do know that. We just don’t care that much.
The USA is waging an effective economic war on Cuba.
It is the sole reason for a great many of Cuba’s problems AS WAS AND IS INTENDED.
You should read up on it so you know what you’re talking about and stop trying to compare life in the rich USA with life in economically besieged Cuba.
Paragraph three of Elio’s post explains what you need to learn.
One realizes just how little the US Trade Embargo impacts dealings between the two countries once one bypasses the rhetoric and looks at the actual facts. While a popular public whipping boy, a bit of research will show that other factors have a greater impact on commerce, investment, and travel or that the actual impact is no more than minor exceptions to the norm.
US travel to Cuba certainly is not impacted by the embargo. Aside from the fact that the travel ban has not been enforced for over ten years, the current twelve exceptions are so broad that it is no problem for a US citizen to self-define their trip as fitting into one of them.
Cubans travel to the US is not restricted by the trade embargo but by the Cuban Adjustment Act (wet foot, dry foot). The CAA is the issue, not the unrelated trade embargo.
US transfers of cash and merchandise, almost $4 billion per year, to families have no restrictions under the trade embargo. Remittances other than to family members are limited to $2,000 every 3 months. This permits investment in smaller Cuban businesses.
Large US commercial investment in Cuba is restricted by the policies of the Cuban government and disadvantageous investment climate as well as the trade embargo. Removal of the trade embargo will have minimal effect on US investment as the Cuban factors remain. There will be no Starbucks in Cuba for the same reasons there are no Tim Hortons (Canadian equivalent)
Cuba is a currently a major US export market for grain and chicken as agricultural products are excluded from the trade embargo similar to medicine. Exports of non agricultural products and medicine will always be constrained by Cuba’s inability to pay for them, the same situation limiting Cuba’s imports from other countries.
Cuba’s exports to the US will always be limited by Cuba’s lack of anything to export. Cuba cannot export much agriculture as they cannot produce sugar at the world market price and already cannot produce near enough food to feed themselves. About the only thing Cuba can export is tobacco and rum which have nominal economic value.
Much is made of Cuba’s pharmaceuticals such as CimaVax. While there is some merit, Cuba has no unique or wonder drugs. CimaVax is not a cure nor a preventative for lung cancer but merely one of several similar drugs that slow the progression of the disease. Sadly I know this from research while a loved one was dying from lung cancer.
Cessation of the US trade embargo will have some effect but that effect will be relatively small as it proves that so many items are no already excluded from the embargo or that there are other constraining factors.
The pro/con of ending the embargo is a horse that has been flogged to death for many years. There has been nothing new in the argument for many many years
However there are some serious logistical matters that neither the US nor Cuban government can resolve but tend to be ignored by the public. The largest of these are adjudicated claims for compensation to American citizens and companies for assets expropriated after the triumph of the Revolution for which no payment has been made. These are not claims that the US government can surrender or negotiate away as they do not belong to the US government but to individual citizens and companies. American citizens and companies are unwilling to give up their right to be paid for their family farms, houses, or businesses that were seized simply to restore harmonious relations between the two countries. I can’t see the Bacardi family, having paid for a factory in Santiago and then again for a replacement in Puerto Rico when the original was seized by the Cuban government, wanting to compete on the liquor store shelf with a brand that never had to make the investment to build a factory.
Many with no economic involvement have strong opinions about these adjudicated claims. But it is simple to have an opinion about someone else’s money.
Again, I am expressing no personal opinion here about what should be done with the embargo. I personally have a strong one which does not count here. I am only pointing out some of the logistical realities that too many ignore.
Totally agree that the embargo should be lifted. Will also concur that medicine and education along with health care have been strong. Problem though with the medical area is that the word is out, doctors in Cuba are not making enough to make life survivable so a few are taking off to other lands. That’s why your government is making it difficult for doctors to travel freely. So let’s get down to what’s wrong with your country. Freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, political process for electing candidates not officially sanctioned by the Cuban government (please don’t write how you have 99% of the voters voting because that doesn’t work anymore.) Oh, and the internet! Let’s just state that your country ranks at the bottom for internet connectivity. That will be a peoples fiesta when that changes Elio and I don’t think you’ll writing platitudes on that day. Wonderful to allow average folk to make their own minds up on how to think vs. indoctrination and an economic system that’s outdated and quite frankly scary!
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