Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Economic War Against Cuba

The Economic War Against Cuba: A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade

Prologue by Wayne S. Smith
Foreword by Paul Estrade
Translated by Larry Oberg
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 144
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Economic War Against Cuba
    Book Description:

    It is impossible to fully understand Cuba today without also understanding the economic sanctions levied against it by the United States. For over fifty years, these sanctions have been upheld by every presidential administration, and at times intensified by individual presidents and acts of Congress. They are a key part of the U.S. government's ongoing campaign to undermine the Cuban Revolution, and stand in egregious violation of international law. Most importantly, the sanctions are cruelly designed for their harmful impact on the Cuban people. In this concise and sober account, Salim Lamrani explains everything you need to know about U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba: their origins, their provisions, how they contravene international law, and how they affect the lives of Cubans. He examines the U.S. government's own official documents to expose what is hiding in plain sight: an indefensible, vicious, and wasteful blockade that has been roundly condemned by citizens around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-343-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. 7-8)
    Wayne S. Smith

    InThe Economic War Against Cuba: A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, Salim Lamrani presents us with an excellent summary of the American economic sanctions against Cuba, the manner in which they have been imposed for more than a half-century, and the harm they cause the Cuban people, particularly in terms of access to certain medicines. At the same time, his work demonstrates that these sanctions have failed totally to achieve their objective, which is nothing less than the overthrow of the Cuban government. Although this failure is obvious, the United States continues to pursue its objective...

  4. Foreword
    (pp. 9-12)
    Paul Estrade

    This book presents a little-known reality, equivocal, even consciously obscured, and in any case, underreported by the media that are charged with selecting and analyzing information. The mainstream media, multiple but unambiguous, hide a reality that Salim Lamrani is working to restore.

    Cuban “institutional specialists” and the “special envoys” in Havana certainly mention the existence of an “embargo” in their commentaries concerning the difficulties endured by the Cuban people. But they always mention it in the same way: as briefly and as vaguely as possible, through the turn of a phrase or even with a single word. They cannot deny,...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 13-16)

    Since 1960, the United States has imposed unilateral economic sanctions upon Cuba, sanctions that affect all sectors of the society as well as all categories of its population. Since February 3, 1962, when President John F. Kennedy made the decision to isolate the island completely, these sanctions have been total. This network of sanctions is unique in terms of its length, its thoroughness, and its sophistication. It is also retroactive and applies to events that happened before the legislation was adopted, and extraterritorial: it extends to other nations and is therefore in conflict with the norms of international law. According...

  6. 1. Fidel Castro and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution
    (pp. 17-22)

    The triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and the rise to power of Fidel Castro immediately provoked the hostility of the United States, whose faithful ally, the dictator Fulgencio Batista, was overthrown by a popular uprising. The Eisenhower administration had struggled to maintain Batista, the perpetrator of the March 10, 1952 coup, as head of state and thereby prevent a takeover by the rebels of the 26th of July Movement. On December 23, 1958, a few days after General Batista fled the island, the National Security Council, taking note of the insurgents’ inevitable advance from the Sierra Maestra toward...

  7. 2. Economic Sanctions from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama
    (pp. 23-45)

    On March 17, 1960, one month before the resumption of relations between Havana and Moscow, the Eisenhower administration made a formal decision to overthrow the Cuban government. The new U.S. foreign policy would be built upon several pillars: the cancellation of the Cuban sugar quota, an end to the deliveries of energy resources such as oil, the continuation of the arms embargo imposed in March 1958, the establishment of a campaign of terrorism and sabotage, and the organization of a paramilitary force designed to invade the island and overthrow Fidel Castro.²³

    On June 29, 1960, the oil companies Texaco, Shell,...

  8. 3. The Impact of the Economic Sanctions on Health Care
    (pp. 46-50)

    Economic sanctions have had a dramatic impact in the field of health. Indeed, nearly 80 percent of the patents granted in the medical sector are issued to U.S. pharmaceutical multinationals and their subsidiaries, which gives them a virtual monopoly. Cuba cannot get access to these medications due to restrictions imposed by the government of the United States.¹¹⁴

    Some specific cases will permit us to grasp the many difficulties faced by Havana in order to maintain a functioning health system. For example, Cuban ophthalmological services are not able to use transpupillary thermotherapy in the treatment of children suffering from cancer of...

  9. 4. United States Justice Contends with the Economic Sanctions
    (pp. 51-54)

    U.S. citizens are authorized to travel to Cuba, but they are strictly forbidden to spend a penny while there, a regulation that makes it difficult to visit the island. The Treasury Department considers any trip as a violation of the economic sanctions legislation, unless the persons who have visited Cuba can prove that they made no purchases on the island. The U.S. justice officials relentlessly pursue violators of the economic sanctions legislation and, in the process, often prove themselves to be ruthless. Here are a few examples of sanctions that have been imposed against Americans who have broken the law....

  10. 5. Extraterritorial Applications of the Economic Sanctions
    (pp. 55-63)

    The economic sanctions against Cuba by the United States are applied extraterritorially and thus affect the citizens and companies of third countries. For this reason, Cubans call the state of siege imposed by Washington a “blockade,” an operation designed to cut off completely all supplies and not simply an “embargo,” which is an administrative measure or legal barrier aimed at preventing the movement of goods from one country to another.¹⁴⁵ Since the 2005 Ibero-American summit, all Ibero-American nations have adopted the term “blockade” to describe the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and to denounce their illegal nature.¹⁴⁶


  11. 6. The U.S. Government Accountability Office Report
    (pp. 64-66)

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent government agency that works for the U.S. Congress. Often called the “congressional watchdog,” the GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. Its objective is to provide the bicameral U.S. Congress with “timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, non-ideological, fair, and balanced.” The work of the GAO is done at the request of congressional committees that ask it to investigate various topics. The head of the GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a fifteen-year term by the president from a slate of candidates proposed by...

  12. 7. The Opposition of American Society to the Economic Sanctions
    (pp. 67-71)

    Unanimously regarded as a relic of the Cold War, the anachronistic, cruel, and ineffective economic sanctions against Cuba have generated a rejection on the part of all classes of American society. The exception is the hardcore Cuban exile population in Florida and New Jersey and their accomplices, such as U.S. senators Bob Menéndez (Democrat, New Jersey) and Marco Rubio (Republican, Florida), and U.S. representatives Mario Diaz Balart (Republican, Florida), Albio Sire (Republican, New Jersey), David Rivera (Republican, Florida), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Republican, Florida).

    Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have often expressed their opposition to Washington’s policy. “I have...

  13. 8. Attempted Genocide?
    (pp. 72-73)

    The Cuban authorities condemn economic sanctions in the strongest terms. According to Havana, it is a “genocidal policy.”²⁰⁹ To justify its position, Cuba bases its argument on two elements: the Geneva Convention and a U.S. memorandum dated April 6, 1960—three months before the imposition of the first economic retaliation.

    The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948, states in Article II that “in the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts, committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 74-76)

    More than half a century after their imposition, U.S. economic sanctions have cost Cuba more than $751 billion. They affect all sectors of Cuban society and all categories of the population, especially the most vulnerable: children, the elderly, and women.²¹³ Over 70 percent of all Cubans have lived in a climate of permanent economic hostility.

    In 2011, during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, 185 out of 192 countries condemned, for the twentieth consecutive year, the economic siege imposed on the Caribbean island.²¹⁴ The international community has called on the United States, so far without success, to...

  15. APPENDIX 1 UN General Assembly Votes on U.S. Economic Sanctions against Cuba
    (pp. 77-77)
  16. APPENDIX 2 UN General Assembly Vote in 2011: Balance [Assessment] and Declarations
    (pp. 78-114)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 115-120)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 121-136)
  19. Index
    (pp. 137-142)