Washington’s economic war on Cuba

How long could the U.S. government ratchet up the economic war against the Cuban Revolution in every corner of the globe without even an “ouch” noticed by the corporate media here? On Nov. 26, Cuba’s Interest Section was forced to announce that until further notice regular consular services in Washington, D.C., and New York City were no longer possible.

The U.S. bank holding Cuba’s funds closed Cuba’s diplomatic accounts and — no surprise — no other bank will accept them. The Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times and the Miami Herald took note. Big bucks are now at stake, as well as political consequences.

For example, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Chambers of Commerce and a dizzying number of other institutions provide U.S. government-approved — licensed — travel to Cuba for princely sums of upward of $5,000 per person per week, much of it charged as administrative costs to the institution. U.S.-based charter companies also book direct flights to Havana and other Cuban cities from Miami, Tampa, Los Angeles and New York. These U.S. travelers need Cuban visas, which are now unavailable.

The lack of a bank also crimps the Obama administration’s very popular relaxed travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban Americans. They, too, rely on the now suspended consular services for passports, visas and other technical services. Analyst Emilio Morales of the U.S.-based Havana Consulting Group “projected that each month of delay could cost $158 million in lost remittances and $23 million in losses for travel companies.” (AP.org, Nov. 27)

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. State Department “would like to see the Cuban missions return to full operations.” To that end, “‘The U.S. government seeks to help foreign missions in the United States that have trouble obtaining banking services, while ensuring the continued security of the U.S. financial system including through appropriate regulatory oversight,’ the State Department said.” (AP.org, Nov. 27)

These statements completely contradict U.S. imperialism’s stated intent and concerted actions for the last 50 years since it imposed the murderous blockade. A 1960 State Department memo recognized the Cuban people’s profound support for the revolution and prescribed “denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” (history.state.gov, April 6, 1960)

To enforce this denial, Bloomberg.com reported last March 13 that, “From 2000 to 2006, the U.S. opened almost 11,000 Cuba sanctions investigations, versus almost 7,000 for all other countries combined.”

So, what is U.S. imperialism’s approach to the Cuban Revolution? Reinforce the punitive blockade? Engage with dollars? The two strategies — both directed against socialism in Cuba — are now colliding in front of everyone.

For workers and all progressives in the U.S., the task is to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba and to unequivocally recognize Cuba’s right to self-determination. As a first step, U.S. imperialism should free all of the Cuban 5 heroes unjustly imprisoned.