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LATIN AMERICA

US embargo has cost Cuba $116 billion in lost revenue, Havana claims

Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno will take scathing report to the United Nations

Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno talks about the effects of the US embargo on Cuba. EFE

Cuba is accusing Washington of causing multi-billion-dollar losses to the island’s economy because of the US embargo that began in the 1960s, and was recently extended one more year by President Barack Obama.

Havana estimates the revenues lost since 1962 at around $116 billion. These figures were provided by Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, and are part of a report that will be taken to the United Nations General Assembly by the Cuban delegation to ask, once again, for sanctions to be lifted.

The embargo has turned into a war and a financial persecution of Cuba,” said the deputy minister at a press conference in Havana, where he described the ban on trade as “a genocidal and vile act” that has gone beyond bilateral relations with the US and affects Cuba’s trade with third parties and foreign investment on the island.

There is not a single aspect of Cubans’ daily lives that is not affected by the destructive, destabilizing action of the embargo,” added Moreno.

The embargo has turned into a war and a financial persecution of Cuba”

Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno

According to his figures, the veto on Cuban exports to the US has cost Havana $3.9 billion in lost revenues between April 2013 and June 2014 alone. If Cuba were allowed to sell Americans products such as coffee and tobacco, the national budget would have an additional $205 million. And if US citizens were allowed to travel freely to the island, tourism receipts would add a further $2 billion to national coffers.

Moreno also noted that Cuba cannot carry out dollar transactions or do business with companies in third countries that have US capital.

Between 2009 and 2014, the Obama administration fined 37 American and foreign companies for violating the trade sanctions, he added.

Since 2004, the fines levied by the US on entities operating with Cuba totalled $11.5 billion, which is more than many countries’ GDP.” One case in point, said Moreno, was the $8.9 billion fine against the French bank BNP Paribas.

The Cuban report also explores the impact of the embargo on the delivery of free health, education and communication services on the island.

Cuba has been taking similar reports to the UN every year since 1982, and these have been approved every time by the General Assembly with the dissenting vote of the United States.

Despite a timid attempt at cooperation between Washington and Havana in recent years on specific issues such as immigration, Obama is being accused of “intensifying the embargo” by renewing it on September 6.

A growing sector of the Cuban-American community is asking for the sanctions to be lifted, arguing that all they have achieved in the last 50 years is to reinforce the Castro regime, rather than weaken it.

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