THE central command of United States imperialism may not be focused on Cuba at the moment, with so many internal problems and international conflicts requiring attention, but the machinery already in place, designed to continually hound the country, remains at work.
The overstaffed Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) takes care of implementing this policy, supervising all financial and commercial transactions with Cuba. More people are assigned to this task than to the finances of Al Qaeda.
A recent communiqué from the Cuban embassy in the Dominican Republic reported that its account with the discount supermarket PriceSmart had been cancelled, as a result of the extraterritorial implications of the blockade.
The same occurred earlier this month in El Salvador, where the local branch of the store had denied access to Cuban diplomats.
"PriceSmart El Salvador is a subsidiary of a U.S. company… since this is the case, the United States government prohibits our mother company, and consequently those of us in El Salvador, from making sales or doing business with Cuban citizens," was the explication offered by the local general manager of the chain, in a letter to the Cuban ambassador.
The enforcement of the blockade by PriceSmart in the Dominican Republic is yet another of the punitive actions taken in this country against Cuba, including the 2011 denial of fuel to Cubana de Aviación aircraft by the Shell Oil Company at the International Airport of the Americas there; and the recent refusal of Scotiabank to provide financial services to Cuban diplomatic personnel, legal residents of the Dominican Republic.
The Cuban embassy’s statement points out, "The United States imposes its criminal regulations regarding economic, commercial and financial relations with Cuba on other countries, clearly demonstrating that this aggressive policy is not a bilateral issue."
OFAC’s harassment of banks and financial institutions has led to the suspension of Cuban consular services in the United States on two occasions, given the unwillingness of any bank with branches in the country to maintain the accounts of Cuba’s Interest Section in Washington or its United Nations mission in New York.
And these evasive banks have good reason to avoid serving Cuban entities.
On March 7, The Wall Street Journal reported in its digital edition, "The French banks Societe Generale and Credit Agricole are being investigated by the United States for possible money laundering crimes and violations related to the embargo on Cuba and other countries such as Iran and Sudan."
The two French banks are being scrutinized by the Treasury and Justice Departments, the federal prosecutor in Manhattan and the state of New York’s Financial Services Department, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Over the last few years, several European banks, including Barclays, Credit Suisse and Standard Chartered, have paid millions of dollars in fines to the U.S. treasury, for violating terms of the blockade.
Art and science are not immune from the effects of this obsessive policy. International media have publicized the current legal conflict between well-known actress Sharon Stone and producer Bob Yari, resulting from her refusal to falsify documents, as requested by Yari, to obtain U.S. government permission to travel to Cuba. She was to play the role of Ernest Hemingway’s wife in a film about the famous author. The producer’s goal was to present his movie as an educational project and thus qualify for U.S. government approval to work in Cuba, but the actress declined to participate in the ploy.
Likewise, scientists from several Florida universities recently complained that the blockade is hampering research, preventing them from traveling to Cuba and maintaining relations with Cuban academics working on such topics as the preservation of coral reefs and the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.
"It is a shame that our hands are tied," said researcher Dan Whittle, from the Environmental Defense Fund, commenting on a project his organization is sponsoring addressing marine and coastal ecosystems in Cuba.
More than 50 years after the blockade was first imposed, irrationality continues to predominate in U.S. policy toward Cuba, despite the fact that 60% of the country’s citizens are in favor of normalizing relations, according to a recent survey by the Atlantic Council.
Despite the fact that businesspeople, legislators, figures from all walks of life and 188 countries voting in the United Nations have called for an end to the blockade, the relentless policy of U.S. persecution of Cuba continues. (From Cubadebate)
- EE.UU prohíbe aviones cubanos abastecerse de combustible en RD. www.diariodigitalrd.com. March 11, 2014.
- EE.UU investiga a Societe Generale y Credit Agricole por violar embargo a Cuba. EFE. March 7, 2014.
- Bloqueo: Cadena comercial en El Salvador impide compras a Embajada cubana. Cubadebate. March 4, 2014.
- Sección de Intereses de Cuba en Washington suspende trámites consulares. Cubadebate. February 14, 2014.
- Ocultan quién prohibió a Sharon Stone viajar a Cuba. Cubadebate. March 2, 2014.
- Bloqueo a Cuba entorpece labor de científicos de La Florida. Cubadebate. March 8, 2014.