The United States continues to punish Cuba, whom it has not forgiven for having taken control of its own destiny over 50 years ago, the Director of the U.S. Department at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal, stated yesterday.
In a brief statement to the press, following a videoconference with Washington in which the effects of the U.S. blockade on Cuba’s economy were outlined, Vidal noted that the White House continues with this policy as it objects to Cuba’s decision to reclaim its sovereignty and reject foreign interference in its affairs.
Vidal added that despite this, there is increasing acknowledgement of the fact that the blockade is opposed to the U.S.´ own interests, with various academics, institutions, politicians and businesspeople having told their government that the policy is obsolete and needs to change.
Regarding the future of relations with the United States, Vidal emphasized that the economic, commercial and financial blockade is the most important topic on the national agenda. The possibility of the governments of the two countries negotiating a rational and civilized end to the policy remains.
During the videoconference which was broadcast live by Cubavisión Internacional, Andrés Zaldivar Dieguez, of the Centre for Historical Research on State Security, outlined the development of the financial persecution that Cuba has faced since the blockade was imposed in 1962.
He explained that due to the extraterritorial nature of the policy, Cuba remains unable to import and export goods freely with the U.S., is unable to use the U.S. dollar in its international transactions and cannot open bank accounts in this currency in third countries.
Finance from U.S. banks, their subsidiaries in third countries, or international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF or the Inter-American Development Bank are also prohibited.
Jonathan Quirós Santos, a researcher at the Department for Trade and Integration at the Centre for World Economics Studies, noted that the blockade has resulted in financial losses of over one trillion dollars and that fines such as that imposed on the French bank, BNP Paribas, demonstrate a tightening of the sanctions.
From Washington, the distinguished academic, Phil Peter, and the lawyer, Robert Muse, outlined the negative effects of the blockade on U.S. companies with the loss of opportunities for business and trade.
Peter, who serves as President of the Cuban Research Group, highlighted that lifting the blockade would allow for investment, tourism and trade to multiply between the two countries.
He also pointed to the opportunities for U.S. companies and others from across the world, to invest in the Cuban energy sector and participate in oil exploration in the deep waters of the Mexican Golf.
Muse referred to the leeway open to the Barack Obama administration to lift the blockade and normalize bilateral relations.
If President Obama had the political will to do so, he could eliminate the economic sanctions and also take Cuba off the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, he stated.
On October 28 there will be a debate in the General Assembly of the United Nations regarding the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.