The Donald Trump government’s policy of hostility against Cuba recorded unprecedented measures and actions, which stood out for their systematicity. All spheres of our society and the daily lives of citizens suffered the impact of this design, accentuated in the context of the pandemic.
More than 240 measurements were counted. Most of them consisted of actions to intensify the blockade with the objective of economically asphyxiating the country, subverting the internal order, creating a situation of ungovernability and overthrowing the Revolution.
The emphasis on hindering the main sources of income and our business relationships was notorious in scope.
The main effects generated by the policy towards Cuba during the Trump administration presented the following behavior:
Title III of the Helms-Burton Act
The decision to allow lawsuits in the US courts under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act was an unprecedented action, after 23 years of successive suspensions of this possibility. This has had an undeniable impact on the prospects for attracting foreign investment, since it constitutes a disincentive that adds to the obstacles that already exist due to the regulatory framework of the blockade. So far there are 28 legal processes initiated in US courts under the Act.
The travel industry was a recurring target of attack during the Trump administration.
Travel alerts to citizens under the pretext of alleged health incidents were succeeded by the ban on cruise ship trips, the suspension of the sub-category of educational trips “people to people” and the modification of two of the licenses that allowed visits of US citizens to Cuba.
The creation of the List of Prohibited Accommodations in Cuba, which included 422 hotels and rental houses, was an additional discouragement to travel.
Regular and charter flights to the entire country were canceled, except for Havana, whose frequencies were also limited. The effects of this announcement reached both US citizens and Cuban families.
The decision to limit the amount of remittances to USD 1,000 per quarter, the suspension of non-family remittances and the prohibition of sending from third countries through Western Union, imposed greater difficulties on the income of many Cubans.
The impossibility of processing remittances through the companies Fincimex and AIS eliminated the main formal channels for making shipments.
In the framework of the campaign to discredit Cuba’s international medical cooperation and a regional scenario favorable to the right, the United States pushed for the end of the agreements with several countries in the area and increased the pressure on multilateral organizations and third countries. In addition to the undeniable human cost of these actions, the economic impact for Cuba has been considerable.
Trade and business
The regulatory changes issued by the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury dismantled existing provisions and created new enforcement instruments. The measure that prevents the importation of products from any country containing more than 10% of US components was re-imposed on Cuba. In a globalized economy, this constitutes a real obstacle to acquiring necessary inputs, regardless of the market of origin.
In the interest of restricting one of the main exportable items, the importation into the United States of rum and tobacco of Cuban origin was prohibited, an announcement that was combined with rhetoric aimed at discrediting these products.
The creation of the List of Cuban Restricted Entities by the State Department, with which persons subject to US jurisdiction are prohibited from conducting direct financial transactions, sought to obstruct foreign trade and the export of goods and services. There are 231 companies included in the list.
He highlighted the decision not to renew the operating license in Cuba of the hotel company Marriot International, in order to sow a climate of uncertainty in the business community.
The effects on the activity of the business system and the country’s commercial operations were considerable, as foreign counterparts sometimes interpreted that they could not be related to Cuba or continue to operate with entities subject to coercive measures.
During the Trump administration, a meticulous persecution of Cuba’s banking-financial operations took place. Of the 22 monetary penalties imposed by the Office for the Control of Foreign Assets (OFAC, for its acronym in English) to companies that violated the blockade laws, 9 were against entities in this sector. There was a notable increase in reports of the closure of bank accounts, denial of transactions and other obstacles faced by diplomatic and business representations abroad, as a result of pressure from the US and due to the extraterritorial nature of the blockade.
Parallel to the strategy against Venezuela and under the pretext of Cuba’s alleged interference in that country, measures were adopted against ships, shipping companies, insurance and reinsurance companies linked to the transportation of fuels. In 2019 alone, 53 boats and 27 companies were penalized. The pressures against the governments registering or flagging vessels were also notable.
The policy scheme towards Cuba combined the severe blockade measures with additional actions, which contributed to sustaining the systematicity of the announcements over time and creating a climate of permanent aggressiveness. The visa restrictions and other provisions against senior Cuban leaders responded to this objective.
The State Department reports on Human Rights, Religious Freedom, Human Trafficking and Terrorism reinforced the rhetoric against Cuba and the discredit in these areas.
The inclusion in arbitrary and unilateral listings pursued the same objective of demonizing and satisfying the demands of the anti-Cuban sectors. The designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism represented the culminating point in the effort to prevent any process of advancement and eventual improvement of bilateral relations.