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On 16-17 November, a special international tribunal hosted by the European Parliament discussed evidence of the economic and human costs of the US blockade. The tribunal heard extensive evidence from Cuban, European and US witnesses of the extraterritorial application of US sanctions which constitutes a clear violation of international law.

Protest against the US blockade in London


This included documentary evidence submitted by Rock around the Blockade as part of the 1 Cent 4 Cuba campaign, showing transactions blocked and accounts closed by British banks such as Metro Bank and NatWest in compliance with US sanctions. Judge Norman Peach, leading the tribunal, read out the non-binding verdict that the US blockade violated international law and the UN Charter, is extraterritorial in scope and that the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide may be applicable.

This came two weeks after the United Nations General Assembly once again voted overwhelmingly to support a motion from socialist Cuba, calling for an end to the illegal blockade of the island by the United States. On 2 November 187 nations voted in favour of the motion declaring the ‘necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba’. The isolated exceptions were the US and Israel which voted against the motion, and Ukraine which abstained. The motion has been heard at the UN 31 consecutive times and on every occasion has been supported by the majority of nations.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez addressed the UN General Assembly before the 2 November vote, stating that without the blockade Cuba’s GDP would have grown 9% in 2022 instead of 4%. The blockade has cost Cuba up to $160bn in accumulated damages since 1962 according to calculations by the Cuban government. The country has still not recovered the 11% of GDP lost in 2020 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the tightening of the blockade by the Trump administration with 243 new coercive measures. The Biden administration has not lifted these measures despite assurance made during Biden’s election campaign; Cuba remains on the US’s list of ‘state sponsors of terrorism’, a designation which causes many international financial institutions to regard any business associated with Cuba as too risky to engage with.

Because of the blockade, Cubans are facing an immense struggle due to shortages of basic goods which must be carefully rationed. It is estimated that as a result of the US’s economic warfare against Cuba nearly 500,000 Cubans emigrated between 2021-2023 seeking asylum in the US, nearly 5% of Cuba’s population, drawn by US immigration policies which give a privileged status to Cuban migrants. The blockade deprives Cuba of resources it needs to escape the legacy of underdevelopment created by colonialism and imperialism.

We stand in solidarity with socialist Cuba against the illegal US blockade. Support Rock around the Blockade’s 15th solidarity brigade to Cuba taking place from December 2023 to January 2024. Your donations will help us bring material aid such as cancer medicines for a children’s hospital in Havana, and to bring back the example of Cuban socialism to Britain.
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Will Jones

FIGHT RACISM! FIGHT IMPERIALISM! 297 December 2023/January 2024