US Economic Sanctions Against Cuba

blockade-against-cuba-[1]MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) – Over 70% of Cubans have been born in the past 50 years, which means that they have lived all their lives under the US economic blockade of Cuba, which began on October 19, 1960.

Havana has estimated the economic damage from the blockade at more than $90 billion.

The United States initiated the policy of economic sanctions against Cuba soon after the 1959 revolution. The blockade aimed to destroy the Cuban economy. Washington canceled Cuba’s sugar quota, the main (and nearly only) pillar of Cuba’s economic and financial capabilities, and stopped oil deliveries to Cuba and oil processing at US refineries, which monopolized the market. There was also an unofficial boycott of supplying spare parts to Cuban industry, which used exclusively US-made equipment.

On October 19, 1960, the Eisenhower administration placed a partial embargo on trade with Cuba, prohibiting all exports except food, medicines and medical supplies.

Officially, the blockade was proclaimed by President John F. Kennedy, who was authorized to do so by Congress in Section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. President Kennedy proclaimed “an embargo upon trade between the United States and Cuba, effective 12:01 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, February 7, 1962.”

The blockade included a ban on the import of all goods of Cuban origin and all goods imported from or through Cuba; the export of US goods to Cuba; trade between Cuban companies with US affiliates in third countries; travel to Cuba; the use of the US dollar in Cuba’s financial transactions with other countries; and access of Cuban vessels and aircraft to the United States.

In 1962, the United States adopted resolutions regulating Cuban imports, which were later added to the Trading with the Enemy Act in the form of amendments.

More restrictive documents called Cuban Assets Control Regulations were approved in 1963 and included a ban on travel to Cuba.

Even stricter sanctions were approved in 1966 to prohibit American companies from making any deals in Cuba without a special permission. US companies in third countries were not allowed to cooperate with Cuban companies or to export products made in Cuba or containing parts made in Cuba to the United States.

Subsequent US administrations further modified regulations and approved new acts to stiffen the blockade.

In 1992, the US Congress approved the Cuban Democracy Act, or the Torricelli Act, under which any vessel that has traded goods or services with Cuba cannot within 180 days dock at a US port. This as good as stopped the import of foods and medicines to Cuba.

On March 12, 1996, US Congress adopted the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act (Helms-Burton Act), which introduced additional sanctions against non-US companies that trade with Cuba. The United States said it would stop its donations to those international financial institutions that approved a loan or other assistance to Cuba, and expressed its “strong disapproval of the extension by Russia of credit … in support of the intelligence facility at Lourdes, Cuba.” The act also stipulates sanctions against third countries that helped sell nationalized enterprises to Cuba.

On June 30, 2004, Congress approved new sanctions against Cuba aimed “to hasten Cuba’s transition to a free and open society.” They limited the amount of money Cuban Americans could send to the island and their visits to relatives in Cuba, and approved increased financing for anti-Cuban radio and TV stations broadcasting to the island.

In particular, Cuban Americans could only visit their relatives in Cuba once in three years and could only stay there for 14 days, spending no more than $50 dollars a day.

In October 2008, the UN General Assembly approved, by an overwhelming majority of votes, a resolution demanding that the US embargo of Cuba be lifted: 185 delegations voted for the resolution, three (including the US delegation) voted against, and two abstained.

In April 2009, the US administration decided to lift the limits on Cuban Americans’ money transfers and travel to Cuba, approved by the Bush administration, and to reopen US telecommunication companies in Cuba.

Since then, Cuban Americans who have relatives in Cuba can visit them every year, spending up to $179 a day. Limits were also lifted from money transfers to Cuba.

The Obama administration allowed US telecommunication companies to provide mobile and TV broadcasting services to Cubans, to be paid for by their relatives in the United States. At the same time, it reaffirmed the limits on the transfer of money to high-ranking Cuban officials.

On August 1, 2009, the Untied States suspended the 1996 Helms-Burton Act for six months.

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