The blockade - Amnesty International’s View

For nearly half a century, the USA has unilaterally imposed an economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba. This document reiterates previous Amnesty International recommendations calling for the lifting of the US embargo. The document highlights the detrimental impact of the US embargo on the efforts by UN agencies and programmes supporting the Cuban government in the progressive realization of economic and social rights. In this report, Amnesty International focuses on the right to health by highlighting how the trade and financial sanctions affect the provision of health care in Cuba.

Amnesty’s Recommendations

The US President has the authority to lift the embargo, with Congressional approval, only if certain conditions are met within Cuba, namely that a transitional government is in place and that a democratic process is established. However, the President can also send a clear message to Congress on the necessity of adopting a new approach towards Cuba in line with the foreign policy of his administration and in compliance with 17 successive resolutions from the UN General Assembly calling for the lifting of the embargo, and similar calls from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The economic, trade and financial sanctions against Cuba, compounded by the lack of measures from the US government to monitor and alleviate the negative impact of the embargo on the Cuban population, are defeating the purpose of the provisions of the ICESCR, in particular with regards to advancing the rights of the Covenant through international co-operation. The US government is also acting contrary to the Charter of the United Nations by restricting the direct import of medicine and medical equipment and supplies, and by imposing those restrictions on companies operating in third countries.

On these grounds, Amnesty International is calling on President Barack Obama:

  • Not to extend beyond September 2009 the status of “national emergency” with regards to Cuba under the Trading With the Enemy Act, or to issue a Presidential Proclamation stating the Termination of the Exercise of Authorities Under the Trading With the Enemy Act With Respect to Cuba.

  • To instruct the US Treasury Department and other relevant agencies enforcing export restrictions to Cuba to allow all UN agencies operating in Cuba immediate and unrestricted access to the US market and financial institutions and further ensure that exports and transfers of materials, equipment and other resources can be achieved without undue restrictions.

  • To establish, pending the total lifting of the embargo, an independent mechanism for the monitoring of the impact of remaining sanctions and ensure that steps are taken to limit to the minimum the sanctions’ impact on the right to health in Cuba.

The lifting of the embargo will require the US Congress to enact new legislation repealing the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Cuba Liberty and Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996. Amnesty International calls on the US Congress:

  • To take, without further delay, the necessary steps towards lifting the economic, financial and trade embargo against Cuba. This can be achieved within the current Congress session by adopting the bills already introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate aimed at that purpose.
You can see the full report here