60 years of the criminal US imperialist blockade against the Cuban Revolution

Source: marxism.com

by Jorge Martin 09 February 2022

On 3 February 1962, US president Kennedy signed proclamation 3447, decreeing an embargo on all trade with Cuba, which was to enter into effect on 7 February. This marked the official beginning of a 60-year blockade (though the imperialist assault had started earlier), which has progressively been strengthened and tightened.

The aims of this campaign of imperialist bullying were openly declared in an April 1960 secret memorandum by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Lestor Mallory. The memorandum, optimistically entitled “The Decline and Fall of Castro”, starts by establishing the following fact: “the majority of Cubans support Castro”. What’s the problem, one would think? There is a government in Cuba that has the overwhelming support of the population. Why should this worry the US? Ah, but, as Mallory points out: “Fidel Castro and other members of the Cuban Government espouse or condone communist influence.”

Memorandum

Image: National Archives

That is the problem. “We cannot allow a country go Communist just because the population supports it!”, is what he seems to be saying. This line of reasoning sums up the total worth of Washington’s references to the US defending “democracy” in its dealings with Cuba. The Cuban people can give itself any government it wants… as long as that is the government US corporations want.

Punishing Cuba with hunger

Incidentally, at the time of writing this secret memorandum, 6 April 1960, the Cuban Revolution had not yet made any statement nor taken any measure which could be described as socialist or communist. It had implemented agrarian reform and had taken steps to reassert its national sovereignty (both national democratic measures). It was only later that same year and in response to US provocations (the refusal to purchase an agreed sugar quota, and the refusal to refine oil at US-owned refineries) that the Cuban Revolution proceeded to expropriate US property on the island, moving very quickly towards the abolition of capitalism. And it was not until a year later, on the eve of the US-sponsored Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) invasion, that Fidel Castro talked of the socialist character of the revolution.

But let’s return to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mallory and his memorandum. Not only is Castro’s government extremely popular and has communist leanings, he says, furthermore “there is no effective opposition”. He then considers the question of foreign intervention, which he seems to discard: “militant opposition to Castro from without Cuba would only serve his and the communist cause.” This is, of course, a sharp insight, but also a piece of cynicism. By this time, the US was already working closely with reactionary forces in Cuba and in Miami, sponsoring a campaign of terrorism, sabotage, aerial bombardment and counter-revolutionary insurgency in Cuba. Perhaps what Mallory was trying to say was that these methods were proving counter-productive, which is true.

Not that this appraisal would prevent the US imperialism from organising the counter-revolutionary disembarkment at Playa Girón in April 1961, which was swiftly defeated by the armed workers and peasants of Cuba.

What conclusion does Mallory draw from his observations? He writes: “The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.” To achieve that, he then proposes “a line of action which… makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government” (my emphasis).

So, there you have it in black and white, from the horse’s mouth. If the Cuban people have the temerity to overwhelmingly support a government that “condones Communist influence”, then they should be punished, by bringing hunger and desperation until they change their minds and overthrow the government. This is the reasoning behind the policy of aggression US imperialism has followed for 60 years towards the Cuban Revolution. It is a criminal policy based on punishing a whole people for having dared to free themselves from imperialist domination and abolished capitalism.

The refusal of US-owned refineries to process oil bought from the Soviet Union led to their state intervention of Texaco, Shell and Standard Oil refineries between 28 June and 1 July 1960. To this, the US replied with a cut in the sugar quota they had agreed to purchase from Cuba, in what was known in Cuba as the “Ley Puñal” (“Dagger Law”, as it was stabbing the revolution in the back). But the Cuban Revolution did not retreat in the face of economic blackmail. On the contrary, it responded by nationalising (between July and October 1960) all US owned corporations On the island. US president Eisenhower then imposed a ban on all US exports to Cuba, except food and medicine.

The 1962 presidential proclamation by Kennedy, imposing “an embargo on all trade with Cuba,” was therefore not the first measure of economic aggression against Cuba, but it represented a qualitative turning point in the campaign of US imperialism against the Cuban Revolution. It imposed a blanket ban on all US imports from and exports to Cuba, which Washington had earlier calculated would deprive Cuba of hard currency earnings of 60 to 70 million US dollars (about US$650 million in today’s currency).

The decision was also informed by the complete disaster of the attempted Playa Girón invasion the previous year and was part of a broader programme of sabotage and paramilitary attacks launched from the United States, organised and coordinated by the CIA, aimed at regime change. These activities, under the name of Operation Mongoose, included the infiltration of armed counter-revolutionaries in the island, saw funding of several million dollars, were coordinated at the highest level, by presidential authority, and were supposed to culminate in the overthrow and assassination of Fidel Castro by October 1962.

Kennedy had wanted economic action against Cuba to be taken jointly by the Organisation of American States (OAS). At the January 1962 OAS summit in Punta del Este, Uruguay, Washington put pressure on all countries to expel Cuba from the body and subject it to an economic blockade, but did not get unanimity. When it realised it would not get unanimity, it then settled for a two-thirds majority of 14 votes and a watered-down resolution. In order to achieve the necessary 14 votes, Washington agreed to resume aid to Haiti, then ruled by the brutal dictator François Duvalier in exchange for a favourable vote at the OAS. The whole operation, clearly, had nothing to do with “democracy” nor “human rights”, but rather with containing “communism” and revolution throughout the continent. There was not even a pretence that it was about anything else.

Under instructions from their masters in Washington, the OAS countries expelled Cuba, and 14 of them also agreed to different measures of economic sanctions. It was not until 1964 that the OAS as a whole, under pressure from the US and with the excuse of Cuba’s support for guerrilla struggle in Venezuela, agreed to a trade blockade against Cuba, with only Mexico voting against. The resolution talks of Cuba having put itself outside the “Christian and democratic traditions of the American peoples” (!!) But of course, no such action was ever taken by the OAS against ruthless dictatorships in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua (which was ruled by Somoza at the time of agreeing the Cuba blockade), etc. Perhaps these dictatorships did not violate the “Christian principles of the American peoples” …

While European countries did not formally join the US blockade, they also sharply curtailed trade with Cuba.

It is significant to note that the blockade was originally put into law under the Democratic administration of Kennedy. The failed military invasion of Playa Girón was also carried out under his watch. This should be enough to dispel any illusions that the Democrats in power have a somehow more “humane” foreign policy. The foreign imperialist policy of the US is bipartisan, as both parties defend the interests of the ruling class.

The Cuban revolution responded to Kennedy’s blockade on 4 April 1962, with a mass rally at which Fidel Castro proclaimed the Second Declaration of Havana, expressing continued defiance against US imperialism and calling for revolution across Latin America.

Resilience of the revolution as embargo tightens

It is a testament to the resilience of the Cuban Revolution that the blockade has failed to destroy it. There was a short period of time in the 1970s when there was an attempt at normalising relations between Cuba and the US, and there was a partial easing of economic measures, but that came to nothing, and under the Reagan administration in the 1980s the blockade was tightened again.

For a whole period of time, the close alliance with the USSR propped up the Cuban economy, though that came with strings attached. But after the collapse of Stalinism in the Soviet Union, the Cuban Revolution was left on its own, suffering a massive economic collapse.

It was precisely at this time that new pieces of legislation were introduced by US imperialism, widening the scope of the blockade. The 1992 Torricelli Act, sponsored by a Democrat, backed by Bill Clinton and signed by George W Bush, reintroduced the blockade for subsidiaries of US-based companies and prevented ships that had docked in Cuban harbours from docking in US ports for 180 days.

Donald Trump Signs The Pledge 18 Image Michael VadonTrump introduced 243 separate measures to tighten the blockade on Cuba, and Biden has continued this policy / Image: Michael Vadon

Then came the even-worse Helms-Burton Act of 1996, initiated by Republican representatives and signed by Bill Clinton, which made the US blockade extraterritorial by threatening non-US companies with legal action in the US if they traded or invested in Cuban assets confiscated by the revolution.

Later on, particularly between 2002 and 2014, the Venezuelan Revolution provided both a political and an economic lifeline to Cuba, proving the point that, ultimately, the fate of the Cuban Revolution will be resolved in the arena of world class struggle. But the economic crisis in Venezuela has also had a negative knock-on effect on Cuba.

60 years later, a section of the US ruling class has admitted that this policy has not worked and has not achieved its aims. The Obama thaw represented an attempt to pursue the same objectives (to smash the revolution) by different means (through the battering ram of world capitalism).

Trump put an end to that policy and introduced 243 separate measures to tighten the blockade, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which had been left in suspension. These had a catastrophic impact on Cuba. It is calculated that, in 2020 alone, the blockade has caused US$9bn worth of damages. It should be noted that not a single one of these measures has been repealed by Biden.

The US blockade is a criminal policy, which is designed, as clearly explained in the 1960 Memorandum, to punish the Cuban people with hunger for having dared to defy imperialism and having abolished capitalism.

The blockade has been consistently condemned by the United Nations General Assembly for the last 30 years. In 2020, only two countries voted against a motion condemning the blockade, the US and Israel. In its report to the United Nations, Cuba estimated the cumulative cost of the embargo over six decades at $148 billion dollars.

However, 30 years of UN votes have not changed the position of the US one single inch. This is a demonstration of how toothless of a talking shop this body is. The UN can pass any resolutions it wants. If US imperialism doesn’t agree, nothing will be done. On the other hand, if US imperialism thinks it can use the UN as a fig leaf for imperialist intervention, then it will; as in the case of the Congo in the 1960s, the first Gulf War in 1991, or more recently the UN intervention in Haiti.

Not all the problems the Cuban Revolution faces stem from the blockade. The isolation of the revolution on a small island with limited economic resources and the existence of a bureaucracy in the state are serious obstacles to building socialism. But certainly, the blockade is a factor of the first order of importance.

It is the duty of all revolutionaries, but also all consistent democrats, to wage a consistent struggle against this criminal imperialist blockade and unconditionally defend the Cuban Revolution.

What Cuba reaffirms

August 13 2020
Source:  Granma

Fidel
Photo: Archivo de Granma

The world is living hard times; Cuba, for its part, is, too. After a year of arduous battles, with our neighbor to the North holding our neck, attempting to force us to surrender and accept the imperialist yoke, in mid-March the pandemic reached our shores.

Horrendous images from all parts of the world of a desperate battle with death; a British cruise ship in trouble, with infected passengers aboard, which Cuba allowed to dock, to facilitate their safe return home; rich countries with health systems overwhelmed by the rapidly spreading disease; Cuban medical brigades preparing to save lives around the world, and the empire maliciously attempting to discredit what can only be described as glorious: a small island nation challenging Goliath, protecting its own, while making whatever it has available to all, without a single soul turning away from the task.

When the adversity gets worse, at a bad moment, when all our effort is not enough, and we must find another way; when a hopeful project is cut short, given the countless difficulties caused by the blockade, that anyone with any common sense can see, we ask ourselves: What would Fidel do? As if, in him, all answers can be found.

Wherever he might be – if in addition to breathing in the very essence of a people, he may live someplace else – Fidel is watching us.

The man who lived to return to his compatriots the dignity we were denied for centuries; who made sure all of Cuba could read, to ensure that ignorance did not prevent understanding; who made the happiness of children the homeland’s first priority, with no exclusions of any kind, offering all the right to shine as who they are and not what they have; who demolished barriers so no human being might believe him or herself superior to others; who trained doctors for Cuba and the world; Fidel knew how, with no other lesson than his own example, to create continuity.

It is no accident that President Díaz-Canel, who, with the sure guidance of Raúl, is today conducting the destiny of Cuba along a clear path, bases every one of his decisions on Fidel’s principles, those of the Cuban Revolution. Working very closely at his side in the last years was enough for our President to appreciate the rigor and value of Fidel’s essential teachings.

He knows that, to put an end to the neoliberal catastrophe that has cost us so much, the world needs a categorical change, and therefore upholds the banner of socialism, as the most just and humane of social systems.

His confidence in the people; his tested solidarity; his natural eloquence, always in front, calling everything by name; his hope for the future; his unassuming decency and willingness to work and build, leave no doubt. Fidel would do, in every new task, what Cuba, with the direction of our President, has reaffirmed.

Days of Action Against the Blockade Continue in Washington

Source:  Granma
September 14 2017

by: International Committee f Justice, and Dignity | informacion@granma.cu

Today, Thursday September 14, at 7:00 pm a special public event featuring José Ramón Cabañas, Cuban Ambassador to the United States, will take place at the Calvary Baptist  Church.

days of action sept 2017.jpgPhoto: Hackwell, Bill

An impassioned defense of Cuba’s sovereignty

A standing-room only crowd at Howard University broke into prolonged and enthusiastic applause Wednesday evening when Miguel Fraga, second secretary at the Cuban embassy in Washington, delivered an impassioned defense of Cuba’s sovereignty and its right to self-determination.

He was responding to an audience question during a lively two-hour panel discussion and exchange of ideas at the Ralph Bunche Center. It was the latest in a week of actions and events in Washington to mark the third annual Days of Action Against the U.S. Blockade of Cuba.

The Howard University event was moderated by Netfa Freeman, host of Voices With Vision on WPFW 89.3 FM. Panelists included Dr. Jesus Reno, the head of pediatrics at the National Institute of Oncology and Radiology in Havana, Yoandrys Ruiz, First Secretary of the Communist Youth Union from the Cuban province of Camaguey, and two U.S. doctors – Dr. Mercedes Charles and Dr. Abraham Vela – both recent graduates from Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine, the world’s largest medical school.

days of action sept 2017 2.jpgThe Days of Action Against the Blockade kicked off Monday night with presentations by
Cuban pediatric oncologist Dr. Jesus Reno and two recent U.S. graduates of Cuba’s
Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM). Photo: Hackwell, Bill

Members of Congress

barbara lee 2.jpgEarlier in the day, Reps Barbara Lee (photo) and Karen Bass co-hosted a health briefing for members of Congress featuring Dr. Renó and five Cuban-trained American doctors. Meanwhile Days of Action activists continued to advocate in Congress for an end to the blockade.

Today Thursday September 14, at 7 pm there will be a special public event featuring José Ramón Cabañas, Cuban Ambassador to the United States, at the Calvary Baptist Church (Woodward Hall, 755 8th St NW, Washington, D.C.

Other speakers include: Cuban doctor Dr. Jesus Renó, recent U.S. graduates of the Latin American School of Medicine, Margaret Flowers, Co-director, Popular Resistance, and candidate for US Senate, and a representative from National Nurses United. Stephen Kimber, author of What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five, will moderate.

U.S. blockade of Cuba denounced at UN

Source:  Granma
September 14 2017

Prensa Latina(PL) | internet@granma.cu

The Europe-Third World Centre (Cetim), a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the UN, denounced the U.S. blockade of Cuba, before the Human Rights Council, describing the policy as unilateral, illegal and illegitimate

bloque.jpgPhoto: TELESUR

Geneva.– The Europe-Third World Centre (Cetim), a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the UN, denounced the U.S. blockade of Cuba, before the Human Rights Council, describing the policy as unilateral, illegal and illegitimate.

In a report presented to the Council during a session held in this Swiss city on September 13, Cetim noted that the blockade is “Illegal, illegitimate, it is tantamount to an act of undeclared war of the United States against Cuba.” 

The document also states that the policy “is contrary to the right to self-determination, depriving the Cuban people of their own means of subsistence,” noting that “Its aim is to harm the physical and moral integrity of a people, to make it suffer as much as possible; for this, it could constitute a crime against humanity. It must cease immediately, unconditionally.”

The report, put together with the help of Rémy Herrera, a specialist at France’s National Scientific Research Center, also references U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse some of the steps taken toward rapprochement by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
“The bilateral negotiations held over three years, having allowed real advances (such as the opening of embassies, migration accords, security cooperation…) and moved toward normalization, now enter a de facto regressive phase,” reads the document.

Bellicose, anachronistic, and interventionist

It also notes that “The motives invoked by President Trump are bellicose, anachronistic, and interventionist.”

The text goes on to highlight that the U.S. government’s new policy toward Cuba is aimed at damaging the socialist country’s economy: “The purpose is aggression against Cuba by depriving its economy of the most foreign exchange income,” in a clear demonstration of the tightening of the U.S. blockade of the island, which “has been condemned by the quasi-unanimity of the member states of the United Nations General Assembly,” for more than 25 years, notes the report.

Finally, Cetim called for a return to the road of normalization of relations between the two countries, “in conformity with the objectives and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.”

Cuba Strongly Rejects New US Slanderous Action

June 20 2013

Cuba strongly rejected new slanderous provocations by Washington, which included placing the island in an arbitrary and ill-natured report issued by the US Department of State on the trafficking of persons.

Cuban head of US division Min of For Aff of CubaIn a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s webpage, the director of the United States division at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal, says that Cuba is acknowledged around the world for its exemplary protection of children, youths and women and it is not a source, transit or destination country for the trafficking of persons.

However, in a new action aimed at discrediting Cuba and Continue reading

Did You Know?

Cuba Helps Bolivian Soldier Who Killed Che

  • Patients from 26 Latin American & Caribbean countries have travelled to Cuba to have their eyesight restored by Cuban doctors.  Among this list is Mario Teran, the Bolivian soldier who shot and killed Che Guevara.  Cuba has forgiven Teran and has restored his eyesight.

Source:  http://realcuba.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/cuba-and-international-solidarity/ 

 Cuba Still Helping 26,000 Ukrainians Affected by the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident

  • According to Prensa Latina, for the past 21 years, Cuba has been treating “26,000 Ukrainian citizens, mostly children, affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident” at Continue reading