US blockade against Cuba: a chronology of an injustice

Cuba, EEUU, bloqueo, cronología

Havana (Prensa Latina) Although it was on February 3, 1962, when US President John F. Kennedy formalized the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, the coercive measures against the island date back to 1959.

The triumph of the Cuban Revolution became a stone in Washington’s shoe, which saw the practice of dominating the destinies of Latin America through puppet governments threatened.

Prensa Latina proposes a chronology of some actions taken by US administrations since 1959 to suffocate the national economy, a policy classified as ineffective and rejected by the international community.

Dwight D Eisenhower (1959-1961)

Eisenhower welcomed the murderers and torturers of the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship, who fled with more than 400 million dollars belonging to Cuban public funds, and launched countless threats, economic coercion and aggression against Cuba’s main goals.

June 29, 1960: The US firms TEXACO, ESSO and SHELL interrupted their oil supplies to Cuba and refused to process the crude purchased in the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), as a result of pressure from Washington.

July 6, 1960: Public Law 86-592 was approved, which authorized Eisenhower to determine the Cuban sugar quota for the following months. The measure implied the reduction of 700,000 short tons of the original quota, a figure that reduced these imports to almost zero.

September 30, 1960: The Department of State announced that it had recommended that US citizens “refrain from traveling to Cuba unless there are compelling reasons to do so.” October 20, 1960: The Department of Commerce established strict and total controls that established the prohibition on exports to Cuba, except for certain non-subsidiary foods, medicines and specified medical supplies.

December 16, 1960: The president of the United States issued Presidential Proclamation 3383, which reduced Cuba’s sugar quota to zero for the first quarter of 1961.

January 3, 1961: The United States announced the breaking of its diplomatic and consular relations with the Cuban Government.

John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

The John F. Kennedy administration was characterized, in addition to the economic suffocation of Cuba, for promoting the political isolation of the Caribbean island at the regional and international levels. The invasion of Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) and the October Crisis (1962) also occurred during his presidency.

February 23, 1961: The Department of Commerce ruled that exports to Cuba could not be made under a general license.

September 4, 1961: Congress passed the Foreign Aid Act of 1961, which prohibited any assistance to the Cuban Government and authorized the president to maintain a total blockade on bilateral trade.

February 3, 1962: The president signed Executive Order 3447 that formalized the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

February 19, 1962: State Department officials visited Europe in search of repressive measures on trade with Cuba by allied countries.

March 19, 1962: Money order services between the United States and Cuba were suspended.

March 23, 1962: The import of any product made entirely or in part with Cuban products, even if manufactured in third countries, was prohibited.

September 16, 1962: Washington announced a ban on vessels involved in trade with Cuba from touching US ports, regardless of the country of registration.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)

President Johnson implemented legislative initiatives of a broad extraterritorial and genocidal nature against Cuba and its population.

Likewise, he used food as a political weapon when trying to prohibit shipments to Cuba and tried to harm the commercialization of Cuban nickel with nations of Western Europe and the USSR.

July 26, 1964: Members of the Organization of American States (OAS), urged by the United States, imposed a blockade on all trade with Cuba except food, medicines and medical supplies.

May 1966: The House Committee on Agriculture passed “The Food for Peace Program”, which prohibited all food shipments to any country involved in the sale or shipment of strategic or non-strategic items to Cuba.

Richard Nixon (1969-1974)

During Nixon’s term, there was an increase in hostility, pirate attacks, terrorism and numerous plots to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro.

1969: The OFAC issued several notes in which it stated that it had reasons to believe that materials produced in the USSR and Czechoslovakia could have components of Cuban origin, for which those resources would be detained by customs.

1974: The Cuban Assets Control Regulations were amended to add an interpretation to the provision that prohibits US citizens from trading abroad in goods of Cuban origin unless authorized by licensing.

Gerald Ford (1974-1977)

President Ford maintained the trend started by his predecessor regarding the adoption of transitory measures to adjust the blockade against Cuba. At this stage, the revision of the Control Regulations on Cuban Assets stands out to establish the license approval policy.

January 3, 1975: The Trade Law of 1974 was approved, which in its Title IV reinforced the restrictions on the tariff treatment of communist countries. Likewise, it prohibited the Import and Export Bank from granting credits to Cuba, with only a few exceptions.

September 24, 1976: The first private charter flight between the United States and Cuba takes off with four US business people on board. The plane was detained by two Miami Customs officials and impounded under orders from the Department of Commerce.

Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

The Carter administration, in an initial stage, tried to open a space for dialogue in areas not linked to the blockade, but in general the entire scaffolding of the economic war against Cuba was maintained.

January to March 1977: Based on an amendment to the Regulations for the Control of Cuban Assets of the Department of the Treasury, people who travel to Cuba are authorized to pay their tickets and stay expenses, and to buy Cuban articles of personal us or for resale worth up to 100 dollars.

November 13, 1980: The OFAC announced that it had reasons to believe that nickel-containing articles produced by the French firm Creusot-Loire might be made or derived from nickel of Cuban origin and therefore could be detained by Customs.

Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

Reagan increased hostility against Cuba: new provisions were introduced to intensify the blockade, which extended to the field of propaganda in order to develop public pressure against the Caribbean island and encourage internal subversion.

March 1, 1982: Cuba is included in the list of countries that provide support to acts of international terrorism, which makes it difficult to export certain products subject to controls.

October 4, 1983: The president signed the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act and Radio Marti began to operate, with which the United States incurred in an act of flagrant aggression against Cuban sovereignty.

December 23, 1985: The 1985 Food Security Act was approved, with new provisions to hinder sugar trade between Cuba and third countries.

August 22, 1986: Strict controls were adopted on organizations promoting trips to Cuba, as well as on sending money or goods to the island.

November 22, 1988: For the first time, people who travel to Cuba are prohibited from using payment cards for their expenses.

George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)

Bush (father) reinforced the extraterritorial nature of the blockade.

July 24, 1991: The United States Senate imposed conditions on the USSR to receive US foreign aid, which included the end to military and economic assistance to Cuba.

April 18, 1992: The president in a public statement instructed the Department of Treasury to further restrict maritime transportation of both passengers and merchandise to or from Cuba.

October 23, 1992: The president approved the Torricelli Act.

November 1992: The United States prohibited private companies and consultants from the country from traveling for “market research”, and third-country nationals from introducing cigars and rum from Cuba into US territory, even if they were for personal consumption.

Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Clinton took major steps for the internationalization and codification of the blockade. He enforced the Torricelli Act, and the Helms Burton Act was approved and executed, which implied a resurgence of hostile measures against Cuba.

1993: The State Department suspended the license of a United States company (ABC Charters) to organize “travel packages” to Cuba.

Subsequently, the OFAC published instructions to restrict travels of Cuban-Americans and send remittances.

1996: The Helms-Burton Act was passed, which further internationalized the blockade with measures such as denying loans and financial aid to countries and organizations that favor cooperation with Cuba.

1998: The Department of Treasury indefinitely suspended the licenses of C&T Charters and Wilson International to operate flights to Cuba and seized the funds resulting from the operations of several telephone companies that did business with Cuba.

2000: The ban on travels to Cuba for US citizens became a law in the US Congress.

George W. Bush (2001-2009) This administration enhanced the measures to tighten the economic blockade against Cuba, with impacts not only on the limitations on academic travel between the two countries, but also on the enforcement of Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act.

February 9, 2004: Inclusion of 10 Cuban institutions in the OFAC list of “specially designated nationals,” which implies the prohibition of any transaction with them by citizens and entities under the jurisdiction of the United States.

June 16, 2004: New measures from the report of the “Aid Commission for a Free Cuba” are published, such as limiting family visits to one every three years and reducing remittances.

December 7, 2004: The Department of Treasury imposes a 20,000-dollar fine on Santander Bank & Trust, a subsidiary of the Spanish banking company Santander Central Hispano, in the Bahamas, for making transfers of funds to Cuba in 2001.

March and April 2005: The OFAC publishes a report on the civil sanctions imposed on 167 people and three companies for violating the blockade against Cuba.

June 10, 2006: The White House approved the second Report of the “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba” (Bush Plan) that incorporates the prohibition of sales of medical equipment; stricter regulations for the export of humanitarian articles, and increased control over the international trade of Cuban nickel and cobalt, among other measures.

July and August 2007: The OFAC reported that the US company Logica CMG Inc. was fined 220,000 dollars, and the US company with 182,750 dollars, for violating the blockade laws.

November 2007: It became known that MasterCard credit cards, issued by the Canadian financial institution CU Electronic Transaction Services (CUETS), cannot be used in Cuba.

January 2008: The European airline Icelandic canceled its Boeing aircraft lease agreement with Cubana de Aviacion, due to the extraterritorial application of the blockade laws.

Barack Obama (2009-2017)

With Obama, the most fruitful bridge of dialogue between Washington and Havana was established, but the persecution of financial and commercial transactions abroad continued.

2009: The OFAC fined nine foreign companies and banks for a total of 542,065,503 dollars, and the use of international payment systems for aid from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was hindered.

March 9, 2010: New OFAC regulation for advance cash payment on sales of agricultural products from the United States to Cuba.

February 23, 2012: Obama extended the directives that prohibit the arrivals of pleasure boats and yachts to Cuba, among other measures.

April 16, 2012: The European banking consortium UniCredit Bank AG officially informed Cuba that all member banks of the group must abide by the rigorous requirements of the OFAC regarding Cuba.

December 11, 2012: The OFAC imposed a 30-million-dollar fine on the London-based bank HSBC Holdings for doing transactions with Cuba.

April 16, 2013: The Swiss bank Zürcher Kantonalbank announced the suspension of all transfers to Cuba.

September 12, 2013: The president renewed the sanctions on Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act for one year.

November 26, 2013: The Justice Department announced the imposition of a 100-million-dollar fine on the Swiss oil company Weatherford International Ltd. and five of its subsidiaries for violating the blockade laws.

June 30, 2014: The departments of Treasury and Justice and New York authorities jointly fined the French bank BNP Paribas with 8.97 billion dollars for violating US sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Myanmar.

February 26, 2015: Despite the announcement of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States that occurred on December 17, 2014, the US company PayPal rejected a transfer in euros issued by the solidarity group with Cuba in Germany, “Cuba- Hilfe-Dortmund”.

March 25, 2015: The OFAC imposed a fine of 7,658,300 dollars on the US company PayPal for violations of regulations against Cuba.

June 19, 2015: The Department of State published the “2014 Country Report on Terrorism”, in which Cuba was kept on the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” for the thirty-third time, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria.

July 16, 2015: Prensa Latina reported that the Lebanese bank Fransabank was forced to cancel an account opened by the news agency in Beirut due to the blockade regulations.

June 7, 2016: It was learned that the Swiss bank UBS S.A. refused to accept a transfer of 20,000 Swiss francs from Cuba, corresponding to the annual contribution of the National People’s Power Assembly to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, based in Geneva.

Donald Trump (2017-2021)

The hostility of this administration against Cuba had a constant rhythm and caused all spheres of society and the daily lives of citizens to suffer its impact.

More than 240 measures were taken during the Donald Trump administration, 55 of them in times of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the purpose of suffocating the country economically, subverting internal order, creating a situation of ungovernability and overthrowing the Revolution.

September 8, 2017: The US president extended for one more year the application of economic sanctions against Cuba under the legal framework established in the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Law.

September 29, 2017: Suspension of visas at the Havana Consulate.

November 8, 2017: The Department of State announced the creation of the List of Restricted Cuban Entities, which included 179 companies with which US citizens cannot relate.

October 5, 2018: The OFAC imposed a fine of five million dollars on the banking entity J.P. Morgan Chase for violating the provisions established against Cuba.

April 17, 2019: Then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the full activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, under which the United States can sue persons from third countries who invest in properties allegedly belonging to US citizens.

June 4, 2019: The OFAC announced new restrictions on US travelers to Cuba and those carried out under the category “people to people” were eliminated.

September 6, 2019: The OFAC imposes new limits on family remittances and suspends transfers related to Cuba that have their origin and destination outside the United States.

February 26, 2020: New regulations of the US company Western Union came into force, which eliminate the possibility of sending remittances to Cuba from third countries.

August 13, 2020: The Department of Transportation announced the suspension of all private charter flights between the United States and Cuba, with only a few exceptions.

January 1, 2021: The Department of State included Banco Financiero Internacional on the List of Restricted Cuban Entities.

January 11, 2021: Inclusion of Cuba in the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Joe Biden (2021-present)

After a year in office, the incumbent US president, despite electoral promises that he would promote bilateral rapprochement, has kept the measures adopted by Donald Trump unchanged, and has added others, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

January 4, 2022: The Department of Treasury announced that it has fined Airbnb with more than 90,000 dollars for violating sanctions related to unauthorized transactions.

January 19, 2022: Prensa Latina reported on the blocking by the Dutch bank ING of a fundraising campaign to finance the trip to Cuba of a delegation from the Progressive International, with the purpose of supporting free access to vaccines against the Covid-19.

Source: Cuba vs. Blockade portal (http://www.cubavs


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