|In an instructive roundtable broadcasted by Cuban T.V., a group of Cuban specialists enrolled themselves in a rapid overview on U.S. blockade’s policy against Cuba.
Along nine U.S. administrations, this policy has taken different paths, it was pointed out.
Extraterritoriality was singled out as one, which makes universal the blockade. Since 1963 U.S. subsidiaries in third countries have been prohibited from trading with Cuba.
In the middle sixties- it was recalled- President Johnson introduced a ban on equipment sales, particularly, on the leasing of maritime transportation to Cuba by the Greek fleet.
During the Nixon – Ford period, a temporary softening in the tone of the blockade was noticed.
This was due to Cuba’s consolidation of its economic relations with some capitalist countries, like Canada, Mexico and some of Western Europe.
In the late 70s, President Carter allowed a lifting on travel prohibition to Cuba, giving green light for family remittances of up to 500 usd.
During Carter’s tenure of duty in 1981, U.S. subsidiaries were able to get authorization to trade, while in the diplomatic field, Interest Sections were established, both in Washington and Havana.
Nevertheless, during this period of time, the CIA continued to carry out several hostile actions against Cuba. Although certain things improved, in general, the blockade policy continued in place.
Once election time arrived, Carter undertook a tougher position “against communism” feeding ground for violent actions which ended up in the illegal occupation of foreign embassies in Havana, which in turn triggered out the Mariel boat exodus of 1980.
Reinforcement of the blockade was a major goal in Reagan’s presidential agenda. The Sta. Fé Program was adopted as the platform for foreign policy. It included a section specifically referred to Cuba, part of which had to do with the creation of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) and the anti-Cuban congressional lobby.
Blocking Cuba’s trade with the world became main focus in the 80s. A particular target became the sales of nickel and sugar.
U.S. authorities made clear to Western Europe and to other countries of the fact, that U.S. customs would deny the entrance into their ports of commodities containing any amount of these two Cuban products.
For the first time, Washington subscribed agreements with countries like Italy, France, Japan and The Netherlands in order to certify that products coming from signatory parties did not contain Cuban nickel.
As a result of this, Cuba was denied access to 40 % of the world’s nickel market. Shortly afterwards, similar agreements this time involving the Cuban sugar were also demanded.
At the above mentioned roundtable it was noted that although the countries that keeps trading with Cuba are well aware of the sanctions established and of the implied risk involved, Cuba was able to sell in the world market 10 % of its cobalt in 1999, as well as it ranked number six in overall nickel’s trade.
In the 80s, the U.S. Treasury Department adopted a new measure consisting of issuing a list of foreign companies linked to Cuba with which the United States would have no more contacts.
Seven consecutives lists were issued between 1986-1989 period in which more than 230 companies were included, among them, shipping companies of major importance for the island’s trade.
This led to the Mack Amendment which would have totally prohibited US subsidiaries from establishing commercial ties with Cuba and, also to the Smith Amendment, which seeked to confiscate ships arriving to Cuban ports.
Although none of these two pieces were passed they were later integrated into the 1992 Torricelli Act, which was an attempt to capitalize the severe economic blow over Cuba caused by the USSR’s demise and the fall down of the socialist block.
One of the roundtable’s attendant pointed out that the Torricelli Act is addressed to attain two basic goals: the obstruction of Cuba’s trade with US subsidiaries and the ban on ships docking in Cuban ports from entering any US port for 180 days.
They noticed that 90.6% of this trade was in food and medicine.
On the other hand, they referred to the fact that the Torricelli Act also includes a section in which different ways and channels to provide donations and financial assistance in support to the so- called transition to democracy in Cuba were provided.
In a telephone connection that took place with Mr. Richard Nuccio during the roundtable, he said that with the collapse of the USRR and the eastern block, much hope raised in the Cuban-American community and in the anti-Cuban sectors in the United States regarding political changes in Cuba.
When this not happened, the Cuban American National Foundation got to pressure on the administration seeking for more drastic measures in order to accelerate the “transition”.
Mr. Nuccio was an assistant to Representative Torricelli when the bill under this congress person name was drafted, and later on he served as President’s Clinton adviser on Cuban affairs.
Since then, eight years have passed and Cuba has been able to resist and to gradually recuperate its economy, while its people keeps firm in support to self-determination and socialism, finally concluded the roundtable.