|Volume 51 Number 11, April 3, 2021||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
The criminal US blockade of Cuba and campaign of disinformation and covert actions to achieve regime change are despicable and must be ended. Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution more than sixty years ago, the objective of Washington's strategy has centred on the negation and extinguishment of Cuba's right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence. This effort to asphyxiate Cuba is the principal obstacle to this proud island nation's social and economic development, costing the people of Cuba in excess of £94 billion over six decades, according to the UN. International relations must be based on equality and respect for sovereignty and the right of self-determination, abandoning and renouncing colonialist and imperialist mindsets and policies.
This is especially true during the pandemic, when, far from reversing the damages resulting from the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, US imperialism has tightened the blockade.
Indeed, March 12 was a date of sadness and outrage for Cuba and the world. Twenty-five years ago, on March 12, 1996, US President Bill Clinton signed into law Public Law No. 104-114, with the grotesque title of the "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996", popularly known as Helms-Burton, after its Republican sponsors, North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms and Indiana Representative Dan Burton. Of course, it has nothing to do with the liberty of Cuba. Neither has it anything to do with democracy. It is a fundamental violation of the right of the Cuban people to self-determination. It also violates the sovereignty of third countries that engage in trade with Cuba.
The Helms-Burton Act aims to internationalise the blockade by means of coercive measures against third countries, in order to interrupt their investment and trade relations with Cuba and subject these sovereign states to the will of the United States. The Helms-Burton Act codified the blockade against Cuba and strengthened its extraterritorial reach and it is a direct attack on Cuba's sovereignty and its political and economic system.
The US Helms-Burton Act was conceived to codify and tighten the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba in 1962 for the purpose of subverting and overthrowing the Cuban government and imposing a regime to the liking of the US government. The Helms-Burton Act specifically targeted Cuba and established a series of conditions with regard to the Cuban economy, aimed at the destruction of the socialist nature of the Cuban economy so as to be acceptable to the US Empire.
The recent activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act is particularly aimed at stopping companies from doing business with more than 220 Cuban entities, many of them hotels. The US blocked oil shipments to Cuba, leaving it with only 60 per cent of the fuel it needed for the economy. The Cuban government took measures to overcome this problem and minimise its impact on the population. It was overcome, in part, by reducing urban and inter-provincial transportation for a period of time.
Title III of the Act allows US companies and citizens to sue not only Cuban companies but also international companies engaging in what the US calls "trafficking in stolen property", i.e. that very grotesque way of referring to the fact that Cuba, when the Revolution triumphed, was within its right under international law to nationalise property owned by foreign companies in Cuba and that since then some of that property has been occupied or otherwise used by those Title III targets. Cuba offered compensation according to international law for the properties that were nationalised at the beginning of the Revolution. In the early years of the Revolution, every single country which faced the nationalisation of its properties - for instance, France and Britain - came to an agreement with Cuba on compensation. Cuba offered compensation to US companies too, but the United States blocked the attempts of any of these companies to accept and engage in negotiations with Cuba.
Because of the pressure from the international community, the Presidents before Trump decided that they had to waive Title III. This was because its extraterritorial nature represents a fundamental violation of the sovereignty of each individual country in the world, attempting to make US law the dominant law in their countries, trumping and overriding domestic law when it comes to companies doing business with Cuba.
Some 6,000 claims on property confiscated by the Cuban government are estimated at a value of $2 billion, or as high as $8 billion with interest.
The United States has waged an unabated, unceasing economic war against Cuba since the early 1960's. The Helms-Burton Act is an escalation of this war against Cuba and an overt attempt to economically asphyxiate Cuba through the violation of international law, by attempting to cut off Cuba's economic links with other parts of the world and sources of foreign investment. It is used to take punitive action against companies that are doing business in Cuba, with those that also carry on business with or have assets in the US being especially vulnerable.
The struggle against the blockade of Cuba unites many throughout the world. On this dishonourable anniversary, many have spoken out against the blockade and the extraterritorial measures enacted by the Helms-Burton Act.
Cuba has always been its own model and has learned to deal with the most difficult situations, such as the Special Period in the 1990s when 75 per cent of Cuba's trade collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union. The resilience of the Cuban people is such that the attempts of the US will not succeed and the Cuban people will prevail.
Workers' Weekly calls on the the working class and people to oppose the Helms-Burton Act and continue the fight against the blockade. It is crucial that the sovereignty of nations and the right of nations to self-determination without outside interference be upheld.
Justice and democracy demands that Cuba's rights, independence and self-determination be respected. What the Cuban people have accomplished despite facing the unceasing aggression of the United States excites the admiration of progressive people the world over.
Workers' Weekly pledges to go all out to further strengthen the ties of friendship and solidarity between the working class and peoples of Cuba and Britain.