mercredi, novembre 08, 2006

Actualité - Cruel and Irrational Attack Against Cuba

On November 8, the UN General Assembly will condemn, for the fifteenth time, the inhuman economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Cuba since July 6, 1960. Meanwhile, Washington continues to increase pressure against the Caribbean island. With new draconian measures adopted on May 6, 2004 and July 10, 2006, the White House carries on its irrational and cruel policy.

As a matter of fact, on October 10, 2006, a new group was created to reinforce restrictions against Cuba. The objective of this group is to go after travel agencies, companies and citizens that break the U.S. laws implemented against Cuba.

Alexander Acosta, the U.S. Attorney for South Florida, presented this astounding new body (Cuban Sanctions Enforcement Task Force, CSETF) formed by several governmental agencies such as the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Trade Department and the Customs and Border Protection services (CBP).

Acosta said that the reinforcement measures against Cuba are one of the political priorities of the United Sates. "We want to make perfectly clear that the federal agencies are fully alert to make sure they enforce the regulations against Cuba."

So any Cuban who visits his sick mother in Cuba without an exit permit issued by the Treasury Department, who stays on the island for more than 14 days every three years, who spends more than $50 USD a day during their 14-day stay, or who sends a remittance to his cousin, aunt or his Communist Party member father, can be condemned to 10 years in prison and a $1 million USD fine.

Likewise, any American tourist who spends a weekend in Havana could receive the same sanctions.

The U.S. Federal Attorney for South Florida justified these measures underlining the importance of "hastening the transition to democracy in Cuba.'' Since 2004, travel between Cuba and the U.S. has decreased by 54 percent, according to OFAC. In 2005, U.S. sanctions against Cuba cost a total of $4.1 billion USD to the Cuban economy, totaling $86 billion USD since 1960.

Economic sanctions against Cuba also have an extraterritorial nature, affecting foreign companies. Therefore, any product containing 10 percent or more of U.S. components cannot be exported to Cuba.

Likewise, any product containing any Cuban component cannot be sold in the U.S. market. For instance, a French baking company has to prove to the U.S. Treasury Department that its products do not contain a single gram of Cuban sugar before distributing them in the U.S. market.

A Japanese automobile company also has to prove that its cars do not contain a single gram of Cuban nickel before having access to the U.S. market.

The U.S. government has just added Dutch bank Netherland Caribbean Bank (NCB), a branch of the ING group, to its black list due to its trade relations with Cuba. Now, NCB cannot conduct business with any U.S. citizen or company. The economic sanctions against Cuba are not a bilateral matter at all.

U.S. Blockade Attempts to Crush Cuba With Diseases

In March 2006, the U.S. Treasury Department stopped close to 100 American scientist, neurologists, and physicians from taking part in the Fourth International Conference on Dying and Comas taking place in Havana. According to authorities, such participation was not in line with U.S. foreign policy.

In September 2006, the U.S. denied a visa to Cuban Health Minister José Ramón Balaguer, who had been invited to participate at a meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), held from September 25 to 29. He could not attend the event despite Cuba being one of the founding members of that organization. Again, Washington did not respect the obligations of countries that are the headquarters for international organizations.

There are endless examples of the adverse effects of the U.S. economic sanctions. It is time to end this sordid and cruel attack against the Cuban population.

(From Rebélion)

(Granma - Salim Lamrani)

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