Obama extends blockade on Cuba for another year

CUBA, September 2016.- US President Barack Obama has extended the Trading With the Enemy Act, the principal law that establishes Washington’s unilateral blockade against Cuba.

President Obama on Tuesday under the “Presidential Determination – Continuation of the Exercise of Certain Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act” extended the measure for another year with respect to Cuba “in the national interest of the United States”.

In a memorandum for the Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew, President Obama stated that: “Under section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. 4305 note), and a previous determination on September 11, 2015 (80 FR 55503, September 16, 2015), the exercise of certain authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act is scheduled to terminate on September 14, 2016. I hereby determine that the continuation for one year of the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba is in the national interest of the United States. Therefore, consistent with the authority vested in me by section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223, I continue for one year, until September 14, 2017, the exercise of those authorities with respect to Cuba, as implemented by the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 515. The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.”

Last Friday, Cuba asked the US government to move from words to deeds and lift the blockade that has caused damages totaling US $4.68 billion in the last one year alone.

Presenting Cuba’s report on United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/5, entitled, "The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States on Cuba," at the Ministry of Foreign Relations last Friday, foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez said in the last 50 years, the economic repercussions of the US “embargo” on the Cuban people totaled US $753.68 billion. “The blockade hurts the Cuban people. Need and hardship are daily occurrences for the Cuban family,” Rodriguez said. “No single Cuban family has been spared or escaped the cruel effects of the blockade. The impact of the blockade on Cuba cannot be underestimated. It is the principal obstacle to national development. We recognize the progress in relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States but the blockade affects food, the pharmaceutical industry, foreign trade, and international cooperation, Cuba’s economic and financial exchanges or relations with the rest of the world…Given the politicization of the blockade, literally no sector is exempt from the blockade impact, not health, social security, salaries, services, or education.”

On December 17, 2014, President Obama announced that he was rejecting the failed Cold War-era policy of the past to chart a new course in Cuba.
On May 29, 2015, the US Department of State rescinded Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism List as another step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between the US and Cuba.

On July 20, 2015, the Embassy of the United States of America reopened in Havana and the Cuban Embassy reopened in Washington, DC. This meant US diplomats now have greater freedom of movement in Cuba, including the ability to travel across the island and engage the Cuban people broadly.

Following the thawing of relations between the US and Cuba, the President Obama has outlined that: “Decades of US isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country. At times, longstanding US policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba.”

Whereas President Obama has publicly asked the US Congress to lift the embargo against Cuba, the policy remains intact and Tuesday’s extension of the Trading With the Enemy Act ensures that the blockade would not end during his tenure.

President Obama leaves the White House in January next year.

(Cubavsbloqueo-The Post)

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