GE Buckles to Helms-Burton

Business transactions with Cuba are constantly persecuted by the US government. Photo: Caridad

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, August 10 – The huge US conglomerate General Electric (GE) has told its sub-subsidiary Banco de America Central (BAC) that it can no longer carry out transactions with Cuba or Cubans.

Without any public announcement, BAC blocked the use of its credit and debit cards in Cuba as of July 1, 2009.  The cards had been used by many families of medical students for sending money, as well as by tourists and people making family visits.

So why has BAC, -headquartered in Central America- changed its policy on transactions involving Cuba?

The bank explains to inquiring customers that since US-based GE Money acquired a majority interest in BAC, it is now subject to the extra-territorial US Helms Burton Act (1996), a pillar of stepped up enforcement of Washington’s nearly half century blockade of Cuba.

The law is geared to punish the Cuban government for having taken an independent course from US corporate interests since 1959.  It seeks to block Cuban business transactions not only with US companies but also with those in third countries which have US investment, partial US ownership, or have US components in their products or sell to companies in the US.

Cuba has taken its case against the US economic blockade to the United Nations General Assembly each year since 1992.  In 2008, only Israel and Palau joined the US, while 185 countries told Washington that enough’s enough and to end the economic hostility against an under-developed island nation of 11.2 million people.

One thought on “GE Buckles to Helms-Burton

  • Good article. However, I would like to add that the real authority that will allow this situation to remain so rests with the governments with BAC memberships, not GE. GE can unilaterally commence the action as they did, however the governments of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Grand Cayman, and the Bahamas all have the right to resist any foreign extraterritorial measures or acts any way they see fit. For example, the EU, Mexico, and Canada, have laws making it illegal for US subsidiary companies in their respective countries to comply with Title III of The Helms-Burton Act. No doubt any reaction or lack thereof from the BAC members will depend on their countries’ current disposition with the US.

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