Blockade and subversion against Cuba: Fines to banks and more than $50 million for interference programs

With total cynicism, the U.S. government and its embassy in Havana tried to dissociate themselves from the real and deep causes that led to last Sunday’s popular protests in some Cuban neighborhoods. “The United States is not behind the protests and these accusations are absurd”, said the State Department spokesman, while the diplomatic legation urged the Cuban government to attend to “the legitimate needs of the Cuban people.”

For the uninformed or professional cynics, such an imperial evasion might sound good to their ears. The poor little empire is not to blame for the blackouts or the lack of food that we Cubans suffer.

But reality is always stubborn and the facts themselves show the perverse nature of the imperial policy. News of this very week attests to that combination of total economic warfare and well-financed subversion that Washington is practicing against Cuba without respite or compunction.

As if the persecution of Cuban finances were not suffocating enough, and in a clear sign of the global nature of that war, the U.S. government imposed a few days ago a fine of 3.7 million dollars on the Swiss bank EFG after accusing it of violating the relentless U.S. measures against Cuba and against individuals from other blacklisted nations, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

EFG is a private bank with about $165.7 billion in assets under management and offers a range of financial services to institutional clients and individuals worldwide.

A few months ago, sanctions had also been imposed on the US-based financial company daVinci for not complying with the blockade sanctions.

Because of those precedents and others, and due to the qualification as a State that allegedly sponsors terrorism, numerous companies and financial entities in the world refused to operate with Cuba for fear of reprisals from the US government, specifically from the Treasury Department, denounced the report that Cuba presented to the UN in October 2023 on the effects of the blockade.

Dozens of banks suspended their operations with the country, including transfers for the purchase of food, medicines, fuel, materials, parts, and other goods.

Between March 2022 and February 2023, the number of foreign banks that for different reasons refused to carry out operations with Cuban banks amounted to 130 (75 from Europe, 21 from America and 34 from the rest of the world), with 267 operations involved.

The Swiss banks UBS, Banque Cler and the Cantonal Bank of Basel refused to transfer donations made to Cuba by the Swiss solidarity organizations MediCuba-Switzerland and the Swiss-Cuba Association, which were to be used for the purchase of surgical instruments for the burns and reconstructive surgery unit of the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital.

Deutsche Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada also repeatedly refused to accept payments from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) to patent firms that represent us in different countries, which affects any future action of negotiation, registration, or commercialization of our products abroad.

 Since 2021, we have faced the refusal of three European banks to carry out operations with the International Financial Bank (BFI) and the Banco Internacional de Comercio S.A. (BICSA), which caused a supplier to stop the technical services it was to provide to the CIGB Plant in Mariel, where the Abdala vaccine against COVID-19 is produced on an industrial scale.

From Cuba’s Report to the UN on the Blockade in 2023

More money for subversive plans, mercenaries, and network agitators

On Friday, March 22, the anti-Cuban mafia in the House of Representatives managed to introduce in the Resolution authorizing the financing of 1.2 billion dollars to sustain the operations of some areas of the US Government (the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and the Legislative Branch), an amount of more than 50 million dollars for subversive actions in Cuba, with emphasis on media manipulation campaigns.

According to a press release issued by the office of anti-Cuban Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, the regulation contemplates 25 million dollars for programs for the “promotion of democracy in Cuba”. The sum represents an increase of 25% in relation to 2023.

These programs are mainly aimed at developing subversive actions against Cuba and manipulative campaigns within the United States and in the rest of the world. Through the State Department, NED and USAID, they generously finance anti-Cuban lobby organizations in Florida and elsewhere and pay their allowance to the mercenaries they have in Cuba.

Part of that funding is used to maintain the anti-Cuban media machine and the social network agitators they have been fostering over the last ten years with the express purpose of impacting, generating manipulated narratives, and confusing Cuban public opinion.

For the same purpose, the legislative proposal approved by the House allocates 25 million for the 2024 work of the Office of Broadcasting to Cuba, in charge of Radio and TV Martí. This is a significant increase from the 13 million approved in the previous fiscal year.

An unspecified additional amount is also reserved for the Open Technology Fund to promote technologies that foster “Internet freedom” in Cuba. Today, Cuba’s connectivity rate is higher than the world average despite the obstacles imposed by the blockade itself to the acquisition of technologies with 10% U.S. components and to the access of Cuban computers and telecommunicators to numerous programs and applications.

In that sense, the regulation establishes that 90 days after the final approval of the law, the Secretary of State and the executive director of the U.S. Global Media Agency (in consultation with the president of the Open Technology Fund) shall submit to the Appropriations Committees the funds and plans to implement the provisions with respect to the programs for the development of Internet technologies.

On April 6, 2023, Microsoft Corporation, headquartered in Redmond, Washington, agreed to remit to the Treasury Department’s OFAC $2,980,265.86 and to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) another $347,631 for violations of various U.S. coercive programs, including Cuba. The total penalty amounted to 3 million 327 thousand 896 dollars. The communiqués from both agencies stated that the company incurred 1,339 violations related to the export of services or software to “sanctioned” jurisdictions, such as Iran, Syria, and Ukraine/Russia. 54 of these apparent violations corresponded to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. (From Cuba’s report to the UN on the blockade 2023)

Zero foreign exchange for entrepreneurs and public health

“We are working for the welfare of the Cuban people” is the phrase most often used by U.S. politicians and diplomats when they try to justify their irrational actions against Cuba by enabling a band-aid measure to the bitter economic war.

But even a timid step by the Biden administration, with specific interests and limited scope, such as privileging the Cuban private sector with some facilities, is too much for the anti-Cuban right-wing gorillas and their allies in Congress.

The bill -which must now go to the Senate-, contains a pronouncement that prohibits the use of funds available for programs of “promotion of democracy in Cuba” on issues related to “business promotion, economic reform, entrepreneurship or any other assistance”.

According to the press release issued by Mario Diaz-Balart’s office — which promoted the inclusion of the punitive measure — the prohibition on using U.S. Government public funds to promote entrepreneurship in Cuba is a “[solid restriction] to prevent the Biden Administration from using democracy funds for unauthorized purposes.”

Finally, the resolution includes sanctions against governments and officials who contract the services of Cuban doctors in another attempt to deprive Cuba of foreign currency legally obtained from the export of services, and whose main purpose is to sustain the Cuban public health system, which is now in dire need of medicines, equipment, and medical supplies.

The norm qualifies the hiring of Cuban doctors abroad as “coerced and trafficked labor” and establishes, says Díaz-Balart, “clear instructions on the denial of visas to governments and international organizations involved in the trafficking of Cuban doctors.”

In barely a week, the U.S. political class and its operators have given a clear demonstration of their non-guilt in the unrest in Cuba. That they block, sanction, impede, restrict, and persecute the finances, trade, and exports of Cuba and its citizens and that they manipulate, lie, finance campaigns, and foment hatred and digital and physical violence has nothing to do with our shortcomings and difficulties. All those in the White House, the Capitol, and the Cuba haters in Miami Cuba haters they are all the good guys.

Source: Cubadebate, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English

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