Today will come into effect Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, by which any citizen or American company, which was subject to nationalizations in the 1960s, can go to the US courts demanding measures against the companies, both Cuban and foreign, that are allegedly “trafficking” with those assets or nationalised assets.
The ’curiosity’ is that in the ranks of “American citizens” are those who, being Cubans at that time, have been subsequently nationalised Americans.
The possibility that US courts are literally flooded with economic “claims” and the possible affectations to fundamentally European companies, although also from other countries, has triggered alarms in the EU, not only because of the magnitude of the ambiguous legal concept of “traffic” but also by the pretension of the North American Administration to extraterritorially apply its legislation to third parties.
The measure of the Government of Donald Trump also breaks in practice the agreement established in 1998 with the EU to maintain the suspension of the aforementioned Helms-Burton Title in exchange for the EU not denouncing the case before the World Trade Organization – OMC -, nor put into practice reciprocal measures, resulting in a commercial war.
According to Cuban government figures, its economy needs about 2,5 billion dollars a year in foreign investment, during the next 10 years, to carry out the economic restructuring plan under way in the Caribbean country, although in the last four years the approximate amount of foreign investments has not exceeded 900 million annually.
The measure that the US Government has just put in place has the clear intention of suffocating the financial possibilities of the Cuban economy, and is preceded by the application, at the end of last year, of special sanctions to a long and detailed list of Cuban companies, which Washington accused of belonging to the Cuban army.
The strengthening of the US blockade against the Caribbean country also includes the recent restriction targeting the money sent to their Cuban relatives by Cubans residing in the United States, who can now only send a maximum of $ 1,000 per quarter. In addition, there is the imminent limitation of the “reasons” justifying the trips of Americans to Cuba, a measure aiming at cutting off the tourist flow unleashed last year, when an estimated 800,000 Americans visited the island.
The measures adopted by the US will undoubtedly have important repercussions on the Cuban population in general given that, since the middle of last year, Cuba has faced difficulties in paying the current account for its imports of food and basic goods. which has resulted in the shortage of various products of high demand and a rise in the prices of food products. To this must be added the possible effects on tourism, the main economic driver of the Cuban economy, and the foreseeable reduction of the flow of dollars from the US, which largely feed the new economy of private and autonomous workers.
Beyond the economic, it must be added that last year the Trump Administration also reduced its diplomatic staff in Havana to a minimum, under the argument of alleged “sonic attacks” against members of its diplomatic delegation, which resulted in a virtual closing of the North American Consulate in Havana so the Cubans are forced to travel to Guyana to request the visa to travel to the US.
But the American return to old and failed policies related to Cuba has acquired, this very weekend, a much more threatening tone when Donald Trump himself expressed that if Cuba did not stop supporting the Government of Venezuela the US could adopt measures to establish a “total embargo” towards the island.
On its part from Havana, the President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz Canel, answered by reaffirming that his country is independent and sovereign and that it does not accept blackmail of any kind, while at the same time denying as false the assertion of the US on the presence of “thousands of Cuban military advisers” in Venezuela, an accusation that nobody but the US has made.
Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, at a press conference called on the international community to react to the US harassment of his country: “The world – he said – cannot afford to remain impassive while others are summoning to destroy countries.”