The tightening of the US blockade of Cuba and the impositions of stricter sanctions have cost that Caribbean country more than US $ 4 billion just over the last year alone.
This was disclosed last Friday by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla at a press conference in Havana. He said that the Donald Trump administration is now resorting desperately to unconventional measures that amount to a qualitative change in its economic pressures to stifle the Cuban economy. These include measures which affect third countries and even commercial entities trading with Cuba.
Among these is the persecution of oil tanker companies which are contracted to ship fuel to Cuba from sources such as Venezuela. Such companies are now subjected to huge fines if they allow their vessels to carry fuel from one sovereign country to another, a commercial arrangement which has nothing to do with the United States or its policy against Cuba. This has resulted to a very grave shortage of fuel in Cuba, more difficulties for its economic development and hardship for its citizens, as well as the thousands of foreign students there, including from St Vincent and the Grenadines.
As if all these were not enough, the US government has also implemented sections of the draconian Helms Burton Act, allowing US citizens to sue Cuban businesses or even individuals and businesses from third countries that currently occupy or operate businesses related to properties nationalized since the 1959 revolution. The Trump administration has also suspended travel by US citizens to Cuba, affecting the Cuban tourism industry as well as cancelled the visits by cruise liners.
All of this amounts to a huge economic cost to Cuba. In the one year from April 2018 to March 2019, the estimated losses amount to $ 4.3 billion (US), according to Foreign Minister Rodriguez. In all, the accumulated damages resulting from almost 60 years of the US blockade on Cuba have reached the staggering total of US $ 138 billion. If, said Mr. Rodriguez, one takes into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold on the international market, that amount skyrockets to almost one trillion dollars (US $ 922.63 billion).
In addition to all these the US government is now pressuring countries which have health cooperation programmes with Cuba, to end this cooperation by refusing to accept Cuban doctors and nurses. Significantly a US naval medical ship USNS Comfort will next month visit six selected Caribbean islands – Dominican Republic, Jamaica, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago, offering free medical treatment to citizens in those countries.
The continuing illegal blockade against Cuba, in flagrant violation of the votes of 189 members of the United Nations is not only illegal and criminal, it has reached preposterous levels.
The local St Vincent and the Grenadines/Cuba Friendship Society is not only calling on all citizens to condemn these actions but is planning a solidarity activity next month which it calls on all friends of Cuba, especially those who have benefitted from Cuban health care and graduates of Cuban universities to support.
SVG/Cuba Friendship Society