HAVANA._ The U.S. economic blockade on Cuba remains intact despite its strong rejection by the international community and after the two countries opened a new chapter for bilateral relations on December 17, 2014.

Hitting the headlines during the current period were the announced reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the recognition by U.S. President Barack Obama that the U.S. policy toward Cuba, including the blockade, is obsolete and must be brought to an end.

In January 2015, Obama urged the U.S. Congress to begin efforts for lifting the economic blockade, and announced various measures for changing some of the aspects of those punitive measures, as part of the changes in the U.S. policy toward the island.

HAVANA._ The U.S. economic blockade on Cuba remains intact despite its strong rejection by the international community and after the two countries opened a new chapter for bilateral relations on December 17, 2014.But, even when Cuban authorities have agreed to say that those measures represent a step made in the right direction, they are still limited and insufficient, given the magnitude and scope of the blockade laws for Cuba and the rest of the world. Those laws are still in place and are imposed with the utmost severity.

On this matter, the Cuban Foreign Ministry denounced that, in spite of the new panorama, the tightening of the blockade policy has continued over this period, together with its financial and extraterritorial character.

Resulting from the monitoring of Cuba’s international transactions, world banks and financial institutions have been imposed fines of millions of dollars, as shown in the report Cuba brought recently before the United Nations on the need to lift the blockade.

Cuba, the report sustains, cannot yet freely import or export products or services from or toward the United States, cannot use the U.S. dollar in international transactions or have bank accounts in U.S. dollars in third countries.

Moreover, the island is not allowed to have access to credits from banks in the United States or their affiliates in third countries, nor from international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the Inter-American Development Bank.

The blockade affects the country’s normal development in all the spheres of economic, social and cultural life.

In spite of the new climate between the two countries, the hostile policy of the economic blockade remains in place. Consequently, the Cuban delegation presented, for the 24th consecutive time, a draft resolution on the need to lift the blockade before the UN General Assembly for approval.

WHAT CAN BE CHANGED

As warned by the Cuban Foreign Ministry, even when the U.S. Congress has the authority to revoke the regulations that rule the blockade policy toward Cuba and to order its lifting, this act may be preceded by the elimination of most of its restrictions through executive actions.

That is why the Cuban government has repeatedly urged the U.S president to make use of his executive powers, as it would mean that many of the prohibitions entailed by the blockade might be eliminated, thus benefiting the process toward the normalization of bilateral relations.

The actions that the U.S. president could authorize include the use of the U.S. dollar in Cuba’s international transactions, allowing for these services to be done through the U.S. bank system, and enabling Cuban entities to open accounts in U.S. banks.

Also within the scope of his powers, Obama could authorize credits, loans and funding in general to Cuba for the acquisition of products on the U.S. market (except for agricultural products, which are banned by law), and give the green light for direct U.S. exports to Cuba.

As for the health sector, the U.S. president could allow U.S. citizens to receive medical treatment in Cuba.

Spokespeople from the Cuban Foreign Ministry consider that Obama has almost unlimited powers to significantly change the restrictions in force and deprive the blockade of its main content, which is vital for normalizing bilateral links.

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