March 3, 2020

CARICOM reiterates its concerns over increased sanctions against Cuba

Members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have reiterated their concern about the enhanced sanctions recently announced by the United States (US) government against Cuba.

Recently, during the 31st Intercessional Conference of Heads of Government of the CARICOM, Title 111 of the Helms-Burton Act, which strengthens the US economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, was discussed.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who attended the meeting told reporters last week that CARICOM has denounced, as unjustifiable, “the application of laws and measures of an extraterritorial nature that are contrary to international law”.

The Helms-Burton Act is the legal foundation of The United States’ embargo on Cuba.

Title III is the portion of the Helms-Burton Act which allows parties whose property was confiscated by the Cuban Government in 1959 to sue in US courts, companies and individuals who “traffic” in the property in question. The Act contains a broad definition of “traffic” and encompasses anyone who derives an economic benefit from confiscated property. Since 1996, each successive US President has suspended this section of the Helms-Burton Act, making the decision to “cease suspension” particularly significant.

Gonsalves said that during the recent meeting, heads of government also expressed a deep appreciation for the medical assistance provided by Cuba to the member states of CARICOM over the years.

He said it was acknowledged that Cuba has helped to build the CARICOM’s health sector through exchanges that have benefitted the region’s people.

“The Heads acknowledged that of their own first-hand knowledge, the persons sent (from Cuba) had added tremendous value to helping their citizens,” said Gonsalves who added that CARICOM has repudiated the statement that the medical assistance given by the Cubans was a form of human trafficking.

“You know that there are elements within the US government that have advanced the view that the doctors who go about in the region and the world, are a form of human trafficking. Absolutely ridiculous,” said Gonsalves who stressed that CARICOM stands with Cuba to dispel this accusation.

Recently, the European Union’s (EU) envoy to Cuba, Alberto Navarro told an online publication that he considers the extraterritorial use of US sanction illegal and a violation of international law.

He told the publication, DW, that in his opinion, Helms-Burton Act Chapter 3 is clearly intended to foster Washington’s own selfish interests.

“The regulation is meant to create confusion in the business world, to force more and more investors to give up and say: ‘I’m not investing in Cuba, and, instead, will go to Jamaica or the Dominican Republic.’ This is a clear attempt by the US to kill off the Cuban economy,” he said.