CUBA RANKS US BLOCKADE TOP OBSTACLE TO TIES

HAVANA, July 7 (NNN-XINHUA)– Since Washington and Havana announced their decision to restore diplomatic ties on Wednesday, the Cuban government and people have strongly and repeatedly demanded that the United States lift its almost half-a-century-old embargo against the island nation.

The Cuban government puts the U.S. blockade on top of its list of obstacles to the normalization of bilateral ties due to the huge losses it has inflicted on many sectors of the Cuban society.

Tourism is among the sectors that are most vulnerable to the blockade, according to Cuba’s official daily Granma.

Agriculture has also been hit hard because of the difficulties in importing supplies, additional freight expenses, and not being able to use the U.S. dollar in financial transactions.

The losses caused by the blockade from May 2013 to April 2014 reached 307 million dollars, according to the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture.

In addition to the economy, education in the island nation has also been severely affected.

Cuban access to primary materials, supplies, new technologies, equipment and tools for education, especially in the field of special education field, has been impeded, according to Granma.

The blockade has barred over 22,000 students with needs for special education from having access to adequate resources.

Humberto Montalvo, an audio technician in his 50s, said that the U.S. treatment of the Cuban people is “criminal” as the blockade has affected every aspect of the Cuban society and people’s life.

Although U.S. President Barack Obama is currently trying to lift the blockade against the Caribbean island, the chance is remote as he lacks enough support from the Congress, which is dominated by conservative Republicans–NNN-XINHUA

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