By Patricia Grogg (IPS)
HAVANA TIMES – The US government of Donald Trump applies the embargo against Cuba with greater rigor than ever, regardless of the impact on the living conditions of the population, nor the world opinion expressed again this Thursday at the United Nations.
This year’s resolution presented by the Cuban government calling for an end to the commercial, economic and financial embargo of almost six decades was approved today by the UN General Assembly by 187 votes in favor, three against (United States, Israel and Brazil) and two abstentions (Colombia and Ukraine).
This is the twenty-eighth occasion that Cuba presents this motion against Washington’s embargo, repeatedly receiving widespread support from the international community.
However it is also the first time that a Latin American country, Brazil, has voted against it, the result of far-right Jair Bolsonaro in the presidency. A second country, Colombia, also ruled by a rightist, Ivan Duque, refrained from voting, breaking thus the traditional regional unanimity against the embargo within the UN.
The resolution “The need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” warns that the embargo is holding back the achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals in the Caribbean nation), among many other consequences.
[The UN vote on Thursday has only symbolic value as all US governments have continuously ignored the call from the world body for 28 consecutive years.]
The Damages According to Cuba
From April 2018 to March 2019, Cuba says US bans and sanctions caused losses of $ 4.34 billion dollars. The document does not reflect the damage caused by measures applied in recent months, such as those aimed at preventing the transfer of imported oil to Cuba.
This maneuver by Washington caused an energy deficit starting in September whose consequences are still felt in the country. It was accompanied by measures to prevent access to foreign currency income to Havana and the cancellation of travel permits to the Caribbean island by recreational and passenger ships, including cruises.
The hardening of the embargo increases the difficulties of the fragile Cuban economy and impacts the daily life of the population of 11.2 million. Like a bad Christmas gift, Cuban families residing in Cuba and the United States will also have problems this year to meet and celebrate traditional end of the year parties together.
On December 10, the Trump administration’s decision to suspend all commercial flights from the United States to nine of the island’s 10 airport terminals enters into force. Only the Havana airport will be able to receive aircraft from companies such as American Airlines and JetBlue.
“It’s bad news, which indicates that everything can be complicated to the point that flights of any kind are eliminated and you have to go through a third country to visit the island,” immigrant Teresa Castillo, told IPS via email. She personally didn’t fly to those other cities, but knows several people affected by the measure.
In turn, Amelia Bruzón, also a resident in the United States, affirmed that “the Cuban-Americans” responded to the measures with points of view for and against. In her opinion, Trump continues to have support and could be reelected in 2020. “I want a change in Cuba so that everyone can enjoy what we have here,” she said.
Days before notifying the cancellation of US flights, Washington announced sanctions for companies that rent aircraft with US components to Cubana Airlines. The Cuban company had to suspend its flights to about a dozen cities with damage for 40.000 passengers and losses for about 10 million dollars.
Cuban analysts say the intention of aggravating the difficulties of the Cuban economy is evident, due to the concentration of attacks in particularly sensitive areas: tourism, financial banking relations with the world, and the nation’s energy supply.
In another of its punishment measures this year, the current administration decided to limit family remittances to the Caribbean nation to US $1,000 quarterly.
More than two million immigrants born in Cuba and their descendants live in the US. Three days before the UN vote, Trump banned financing educational and cultural exchanges with state officials and entities from Cuba, Russia, Syria and North Korea.