Thu | Sep 19, 2019

Cuba rejects Trump’s threat to tighten embargo

Published:Thursday | January 24, 2019 | 12:29 AM:Paul Clarke

Cuban ambassador to Jamaica, Ines Fors Fernandez, has vowed that threats from the United States to further tighten the long-standing embargo on the Caribbean island nation by activating Title Three of the Helms-Burton Act will only make its people more resilient while praising countries like Jamaica for their firm support over decades.

Her statement comes a day after the Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla poured scorn on President Donald Trump’s threat of activation of the law. Title III of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 allows Cuban Americans to sue for property seized by the Castro regime. It is said to be worth US$9 billion.

Fernandez reasoned that the European Union and several other countries supported a United Nations resolution last year in a stand with Cuba, with the exception of the United States and Israel.

“European countries condemn this ongoing US embargo towards Cuba because they are directly affected by this section (Title III). So Title III of the Helms-Burton Act goes against the interest of third countries in Cuba,” explained Fernandez.

She said that the embargo has had a withering impact on the Cuban people.

“There are a lot of Cubans affected by this policy, including children and senior people. I am talking about people who cannot feel good about this lifelong blockade of a country by another. We cannot do anything but to criticise and condemn this move by the US. This embargo has not subjugated the Cuban minds. It has made us stronger and more resilient, and we will get even stronger for this,” she said.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, noted in his letter that the US administration’s threat to tighten the blockade against Cuba would be a flagrant violation of international law and a direct attack on the sovereignty and interests of third countries.

“Cuba strongly, firmly, and categorically rejects such a threat, which is construed as an extremely arrogant and irresponsible hostile action, and repudiates the disrespectful and slanderous language used in the public announcement made by the State Department,” Rodriguez said.

On January 16, 2019, the US State Department announced a decision to suspend for only 45 days the implementation of Title Three of the Helms-Burton Act, “in order to conduct a careful review … in light of the national interests of the United States and the efforts to expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba, and include factors such as the Cuba’s brutal oppression of human rights and fundamental freedoms and its indefensible support for increasingly authoritarian and corrupt regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua”.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com