Where Will the Cuba Embargo’s Next Shots Come From?

The Trump administration has been “slingling shots” at Cuba from outside recently, but they haven’t exactly been hitting the Palace de la Revolution, but civilian targets instead.

Photo by Frank Gil

By Cubaencuentro

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban government is preparing itself to resist the US tightening down on its embargo even further, like never before, at a time when the most anti-Castro group in the US is putting all its hope on the Communist Party government being overthrown with the reelection of Donald Trump in the White House, AFP reports.

The economic siege against the Cuban government has been in place for nearly 60 years, and it has recently been accompanied by measures which Cuban Ambassador, Bruno Rodriguez, defines as “unconventional”.

“The US election campaign could mean more hostility towards our country and additional measures as part of the blockade,” but Cuba is getting ready “to face the attack” and “is sure to win”, added Rodriguez.

On Monday, Trump prohibited the federal government from funding the education and cultural exchange program it has with officials and state organizations in Cuba, Russia, Syria and North Korea, just days before the UN General Assembly votes upon the resolution that condemns the embargo.

Here are some key points about the sanctions to help anticipate upcoming scenarios:

Trump, the last chance

“Trump handed over the political keys for US-Cuban relations to (Florida Senator) Marco Rubio, to this group of Cuban exiles who are looking for a change in government at any cost,” Cuban professor Arturo Lopez-Levy, from Holy Names University in California, says.

His time in office is dismantling the agreements that were reached during the historic rapprochement process with Cuba, headed by his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump is looking for votes in Florida, considered a decisive state in the elections, as well as support in the face of a potential impeachment trial, Lopez-Levy believes.

“There is no doubt that more restrictions will come before the 2020 elections. They think that if Trump loses, their hopes of keeping the embargo will vanish” because “the Democrat Party wants to create a dialogue with Cuba,” Lopez-Levy adds.

What have they done?

Washington accuses Cuba of “repressing its own people” with a single-party government, with no legal opposition and a state-controlled economy.

It also accuses Cuba of supporting Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, “with Cuban military and security services.” Cuba denies these accusations but continues to have a close relationship with its ally.

Recent sanctions included direct flights to Cuba being suspended in December, except for Havana. Before that, cruise ships docking on the island were also suspended, Cubana Airlines was forbidden from leasing airplanes, and visa restrictions were applied.

Cuba is running on less fuel than it needs (30% in September; 60% in October), due to sanctions on oil tankers carrying Venezuelan oil to the island. Long lines at gas stations became a daily sight.

Remittances were also limited to 1,000 USD every quarter, which Cuban-Americans send back to their relatives on the island.

And then there is the Helms-Burton Act: Trump lifted the waiver on Title III (1996) in May this year which allows lawsuits to be filed, by Cuban-Americans too, in US courts against foreign companies who manage seized assets in Cuba during the Revolution. American Airlines and Amazon are two of the companies being sued.

“The Trump administration was hoping for more lawsuits (only 20 up until now). However, more than the number of lawsuits, who is filing the lawsuit and who is being sued is more important,” president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, John Kavulich, explained.

International banks have become a lot more cautious. Most of them abstain from carrying out transactions with Cuba, afraid they will be sanctioned.

Who does this affect?

The Trump administration has been “slingling shots” at Cuba from outside recently, but they haven’t exactly been hitting the Palace de la Revolution, but civilian targets instead.

According to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Trump has issued 187 measures since June 2017, “which affect Cuban and Cuban-American individuals and businesses.”

“They aren’t hurting the Communist Party, they are hurting people who might even be thinking about a different form of government, who aren’t socialists. They are making family contact more difficult, they are making it harder for Cubans to have access to property and financial opportunities,” former Cuban National Assembly chair Ricardo Alarcon told AFP.

“These measures seek to turn up the heat on the economic pressure cooker so the country explodes, and nobody in their right mind can see this happening without hurting the population too,” Lopez-Levy weighed in.

What’s to come?

According to experts that AFP reached out to, these may be some of the upcoming steps:

  • Greater pressure to intimidate and block trade, finance and investments.
  • Greater sanctions for using the dollar or sanctions for banks who mediate transactions with Cuba in other currencies.
  • Hitting the travel insurance industry so as to reduce tourism, an important driver of the Cuban economy.
  • Establishing a stricter limit on the amount US citizens can spend when traveling to Cuba.
  • Restrict remittances further.
  • Block credit card usage on the island. Visa and Mastercard are currently accepted.
  • Put Cuba back on the list of countries that support terrorism.
  • Reduce diplomatic relations: the US Embassy in Havana may become a US Interests Office again.

10 thoughts on “Where Will the Cuba Embargo’s Next Shots Come From?

  • It was ok when the the Americans had Cuba corrupted with the drugs prostitutes and gambling . Cubans are proud people they would rather have nothing than bow down to the wicked United states. How dare they tell the Cubans to work on their human rights. Look at the police brutality in this country on the brown people. The murderous kkk racist system they have in place. People of color are always the ones who suffer. 400 years of free labor. Ridiculous. Freedom and justice for all. That’s a horrible joke.

  • The US should end its cruel embargo which both of the two Parties have supported. Nor should the US be allowed to play the role international bully and policeman where Washington gets the right to decide which counties meet it standards for democracy.

    The US ruling class will not allow Trump or any other capitalist politician to stray too far from the plantation. Almost all foreign policy decisions must be approved by a supermajority or by concerece in the US Senate.

  • The US embargo is the least of Cuba’s problems at this point. Institutional corruption cripples initiative. A crumbling infrastructure handicaps internal commerce. Finally, the Castro-style socialist economic model restricts economic growth and innovation. Cuba needs to fix these problems as well as get rid of its dual monetary system before worrying about a flaccid US embargo.

  • When I was a child living in New York (this was the very early sixties), I had a friend whose family had immigrated to the US from Cuba. Her name was Gloria. She told me that her family had a beautiful home in Cuba, but Castro took it away. I have another friend who came to the US in 1966 whose brother was not allowed to leave the island with the rest of his family because he was 15. They were told that he would not be allowed to leave until he was 20-something in case he was needed for the military. I guess I’m wondering: What do the Cuban people want at this point in time? What would make their lives better? Would lifting the embargo be enough? I feel that the Cuban people have not been treated fairly.

  • End the Blockade Against ?? Cuba.

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