Cuban Foreign Minister Calls to Stop U.S. Irresponsibility, Nonsense toward Cuba
By Jorge Coromina
With the breaking news that the U.S. Treasury Department updated the list of restricted Cuban entities that are allowed to do business with American companies, the Cuban Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemned the new measures against Cuba announced last week by the administration of President Donald Trump.
In a press conference with national and foreign media stationed on the island, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parilla, called on the international community to stop the escalation of Washington's policy towards the island and throughout Latin America.
In the Cuban foreign minister opinion, U.S. policy toward Latin America, especially regarding Cuba, is right now "hijacked by a handful of characters with poor qualifications and with many dysfunctions when making decisions" that are causing a clear setback of everything achieved by President Barack Obama as of December 2014.
The list of the Department of the Treasury, which at the moment totals 219 Cuban entities that cannot do business with American companies, is now joined by Aerogaviota airline, as well as the Santa Isabel , El Caney Varadero and Meliá Marina Varadero Apartment hotels, in addition to the Marina Gaviota Diving Center, all linked to tourism, a strategically key sector to the economic development of Cuba and an effective tool to overcome the isolation that the Trump administration intends to promote.
“The desire to restrict the already-limited freedom of travel of U.S. citizens to the banned destination of Cuba, has not been made taking into account the opinion of American voters, in particular of the 650,000 American citizens who visited our country in 2018, nor the half a million Cubans living in that country who also visited their homeland,” said the Foreign Minister of Cuba during his press conference at the Chancellery headquarters.
Mr. Rodríguez Parrilla also referred to the restrictions on remittances sent by Cuban-Americans to their relatives on the island, which as of May will be subject to a limit of just $1,000 quarterly. He said that such measure not only hurts the interests and the income of the Cuban people, but it seriously harms the self-employed sector of the Cuban economy.
“I call on the international community to stop this foolishness and irresponsibility. You must act before it is too late. This dangerous escalation must be stopped for the good of the peoples of Cuba, the United States, the region and all the people of the planet,” said Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla in another part of his speech.
Cuba, concluded the Cuban foreign minister, awaits the action of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and other multilateral bodies against the new measures against the island.
Spain, as Cuba’s top investor in the travel and tourism industry, and Canada, as the island nation’s largest outbound market, have already spoken out against the tightening of the U.S. blockade on the island.
According to a statement issued by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell conveyed in Washington his “concern” after the activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which would allow US citizens, including naturalized Cubans, to file lawsuits in U.S. courts against companies that are allegedly benefiting from properties in Cuba that were expropriated after the 1959 Revolution.
Since its approval in 1996, that provision has been called off by all U.S. administrations every six months, but the government of Donald Trump already announced recently that this title will be fully activated from next May 2.
The note from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs adds that Madrid is opposed to the enforcement of Title III for a “reason of principle”, but also because it could have “negative consequences” for the interests of the European Union in Cuba, in particular for Spanish companies that, like the Melia and NH Hotels hotel groups, operate on the island.
Spanish hotel chain Melia International has already gone out to bat for its operations in Cuba by denouncing the tightening of the economic sanctions imposed by the United States against the Caribbean nation.
After lamenting the “uncertainty and legal turmoil created by the announcement to lift the suspension”, Melia Hotels International stated that the measure does not imply “any substantial change” of its operations on the Caribbean island.
“Melia it operates legitimately in Cuba and in other 44 countries, having carried out an impeccable, professional and responsible management for 30 years in the Caribbean nation, an exceptional destination that must remain open to international tourism,” the Melia press release reads.
The Majorca-based hotel group thanked “the strong support and reaction promoted by the Government of Spain and the European Commission to foreign companies affected by a law that is considered extraterritorial.”