It happened on February 3, 1962, three years after the triumph of the revolution in January 1959. Ten months after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-backed mercenaries, US President United John Kennedy launched a latent war against them through Cuba the imposition of a strict blockade of the island, which meanwhile, after this victory over the invaders, had decreed the socialist character of the revolution. Sad statistic: This is the longest blockade in history, maintained and even strengthened by 13 US Presidents.
In the words of its supporters, the aim was to smother the fledgling government, to create shortages of all kinds so that the people, “impoverished, hungry and desperate”, would withdraw their support from the government and turn it around in one way or another Another. The United States could not tolerate the installation of a Socialist government that, after so much fighting and bloodshed, promised true independence without any interference, ninety miles from their shores in what they considered their backyard. Moreover, this revolution could be contagious, and it was necessary at all costs to prevent this spirit of rebellion from spilling over into other countries on its turf, in this Latin America where docile and authoritarian governments ruled.
But this Machiavellian project failed. Sixty years later, despite countless difficulties, the socialist government still has the situation under control. It should be noted that more than 70% of the current population knows nothing other than the hardships of the blockade and the sanctions imposed by the White House, and that the blockade has cost the Cuban economy at least more than $150 billion, not to mention thousands of dollars human lives.
In 1992, the Torricelli Act sponsored by George W. Bush reinforced the blockade by adding an extraterritorial aspect to it. It banned foreign companies trading with US companies from doing business with Cuba. In addition, any cargo that docked in Cuba was barred from entering US ports for six months. Unruly companies were sentenced to millionaire fines. One example among hundreds of others: the French bank BNP Paribas has already been fined $8.9 billion in the US for not complying with the ban. Admit that these measures do not encourage free trade with Cuba.
The Helms-Burton Act, passed under the Clinton presidency in 1996, simply reinforced the extraterritorial nature of the blockade against Cuba, thereby violating several principles and norms of international law. Additionally, it aims to discourage any foreign investor from investing in Cuban companies, after Cuba abruptly ended its trade ties with the socialist camp a few years earlier following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The White House then says that Cuba will not withstand this new water hammer for long.
Then came Donald Trump in 2016. Meanwhile, there was indeed an upswing during Barack Obama’s eight-year presidency from 2008, which was made official by his visit to Cuba when diplomatic ties were restored between the two countries. All hopes were allowed. Didn’t the new US President also admit that the blockade against Cuba had failed? American tourists soon began arriving in large numbers, while Cuban-Americans were finally able to see their families again. A large number of private restaurants emerged, including some of the upscale gastronomy. And if the block would go away… we dreamed openly.
Trump’s arrival in the White House put an end to all those hopes and put the country back to where it was before Obama. But it wasn’t enough. In the midst of a pandemic, Trump decreed more than 200 measures that tightened the tourniquet even more. No more tourist trips and cruise ships to Cuba, no more remittances – all Western Union offices have been closed – no more family reunions. The US Embassy in Havana once again became an empty shell.
Then, in November 2020, Democrat Joe Biden ended Trump’s four-year reign. Regarding Cuba, he had promised during his election campaign to return to the situation that prevailed during the administration of Barack Obama, of which he was Vice President. He has just announced tentative appeasement measures. The hope machine has started again.
Despite this rollercoaster ride and this incessant game of yo-yo, the hearts of Cubans continue to beat in unison. Heroism is written daily and we are invited to this fight. You have to see it to believe it.