HAVANA – Cuba registered more than $4 billion in losses in just one year as a result of the US financial and trade embargo, according to calculations released by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Friday in Havana.
The damage to the Cuban economy was specifically tallied at $4.343 billion between April 2018 and March 2019, a period that does not include the tightening of the embargo by the Donald Trump administration since April, the foreign minister said at a press conference.
Rodriguez presented the annual report prepared by the Cuban government quantifying the damage done by the “blockade,” which since it was levied in 1960 purportedly has cost the island $138.843 billion at current prices and $922.63 billion taking into account the depreciation of the dollar versus the price of gold in the international market.
The yearly document published on Friday comes out before Cuba presents – on Nov. 6-7 before the United Nations General Assembly in New York – its annual resolution for which it garners international support calling on the US to end the “economic, trade and financial blockade.”
That initiative, which Havana has been pursuing at the UN since 1992, constitutes the biggest diplomatic success that the communist state has achieved, gathering the annual support of the huge majority of UN member states. Last year, for instance, the resolution obtained 189 votes in favor and just 2 in opposition, those of the US and Israel.
Cuba spells out in the report the “effects” of the embargo on different sectors of its economy, as well as the direct and indirect consequences on the development and well-being of the Cuban people.
For instance, it says that health and nutrition are “priority objectives of the attacks by the US governments,” which “hinder” the acquisition of primary materials and medical equipment to treat such diseases as cancer, thus causing losses in the sector estimated at $104 million between April 2018 and last March.
The document also says that the embargo “continues to be the basic obstacle” preventing Cuba from fulfilling its Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and it estimates at $79 million the damage caused to production and services in the cited 12-month period.
In transportation, the losses amounted to $49 million, in energy and mines $78 million, in finance $725 million and in Cuba’s foreign trade $2.896 billion during the same period, according to Havana’s calculations.
The US government tightened the embargo in April 2019, after the period under analysis in the report, and in June it placed new restrictions on travel to the communist island, including a complete ban on US cruise ships docking in Cuba, a move that has been a harsh blow to the local tourism sector, and even more recently Washington restricted the sending of remittances to the island.
The Cuban government also says that the US embargo is responsible for the current energy crisis on the island due to the partial interruption in fuel supplies, a situation that is seriously affecting transportation, industrial activities and the daily life of its citizens.
“Those who attribute the problems of the Cuban economy, particularly those that have occurred during these months, to the incompetence of our government or the inefficiency of socialism, in the long run will (be proven to be) naive, ignorant and complicit,” Rodriguez said in his speech.
He also said that Cuba’s detractors in Washington “will not extract any political concessions from our government because Cuba’s dignity is not for sale,” and he noted that the US strategy “has failed for six decades.”