Relations might be warming between the U.S. and Cuba, but President Barack Obama’s move on Wednesday was ice cold.
The U.S. leader renewed a 20-year-old state of national emergency to continue to administer the blockade against the Caribbean island, at the same time as planning a trip there within weeks to take talks over normalizing diplomatic ties to the next stage.
It bans ships and planes from the U.S. from entering Cuban waters or airspace without government permission, and requires the president to annually renew these emergency powers.
There is one revision to Obama’s blockade action, USA Today reports, in that the Coast Guard are only allowed to inspect and seize vessels believed to have violated the blockade “to the extent consistent with international law.”
But in renewing the blockade, Obama also softened the language used to justify the emergency. He removed the more bellicose language used by Presidents Clinton andBush that Cuba “has demonstrated a ready and reckless willingness to use excessive force, including deadly force,” against the United States, and instead expressed a desire for “a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Cuba.”
Clinton declared a state of emergency on March 1, 1996.
According to the United Nations, the U.S. blockade has cost Cuba US$117 billion