U.S. blockade on Cuba damages increase

The most recent Cuban government report confirms an increase in millions of dollars’ worth of costs because of Washington’s policy of commercial and financial harassment and a merciless attack on third country banks.

With a record fine of 8.9 billion dollars, the French BNP Paribas bank joined the list of third country banking institutions that Washington has sanctioned for doing business with Cuba.

The damages of the U.S. economic blockade on Cuba have increased in the last year, this time due to the Obama administration’s concentration of pressures on a particularly sensitive sector of the economy: banking. The new version of the report that the Cuban government presents every year before the United Nations General Assembly gives details on the consequences for the health and education systems, trade and the industrial sector, but places emphasis on the U.S. persecution of Cuba’s financial ties abroad.

The total costs derived from the commercial obstacles increased to 116.88 billion dollars at current prices, Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno said when presenting the document to the national and foreign press. But if the dollar’s depreciation against gold on the international market since Washington’s more than 50-year-old economic aggression against Havana began is taken into account, the damage geometrically amounts to 1.112.534 trillion dollars. “A trillion dollars,” the official specified in the press conference.

The financial decrease has grown by more than 8 billion dollars during the last two years. In September 2012, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said during a press conference that “at current prices, it amounts to a figure that surpasses a conservative estimate of 108 billion dollars.”“There is no sphere in the economic and social life that escapes the destabilising effects” of the U.S. economic blockade, said Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno.

The report, which will be submitted in October to the criterion of the community of nations under the title of “Need to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America on Cuba,” begins with a description of the effects on health and education institutions. It lists 10 hospitals, research centres and pharmaceutical enterprises whose spending has been strongly increased for the purchase of medicines and other medical resources for the population.

It also reports difficulties created for educational, cultural, sports centres and for the purchase of food, as well as a long list of Cuban enterprises and commercial activities restricted or made more expensive because of U.S. obstacles to negotiate even with third country entities.

“There is no sphere in the economic and social life that escapes the destabilising effects of that hostile policy imposed on the island for more than half a century,” Moreno said.

However, the annual report that closed in June 2014, defines “the persecution of the Cuban financial transactions” as one of the “most visible current tendencies of the U.S. attempt to stifle the Cuban economy.”

Contrary to President Barack Obama’s promises of relaxing relations with Cuba, since 2010 his government has undertaken 130 extraterritorial actions by virtue of the blockade and 81 of them have been financial. Just from January 2009 to June 2, 2014, the Treasury Department fined 36 U.S. and foreign banking entities a total of 2.6 billion dollars for carrying out commercial or financial operations for Cuba, according to the Foreign Ministry.With a record fine of 8.9 billion dollars, the French BNP Paribas bank joined the list of third country banking institutions that Washington has sanctioned for doing business with Cuba.

The damage in that sense has increased extraordinarily after the close of the report. The French BNP Paribas bank admitted last July that it had violated U.S, economic sanctions against  a trio of countries, among them Cuba;, that is why it agreed to pay Washington a record fine of 8.9 billion dollars. That amount increases threefold the maximum amount with which third country banks had been previously charged: the Credit Suisse with 2.6 billion dollars.

Other European companies punished during the period from mid-2013 until June 2014 were the Swiss Weatherford oil company and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Cuba will present this new version of the report on October 28 before the United Nations General Assembly. In previous years it received an almost mass support. In 2013, 188 countries out of the 193 member states voted in favour of condemning the blockade. (2014)

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