Cuba Says US Embargo Cost It $4.6 Billion Last Year
The Cuban government has called on the United States to do more to ease economic pressure on the nation in light of improved relations between Washington and Havana, saying U.S. economic sanctions cost Cuba $4.6 billion in the last financial year. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez made the remark at a news conference marking the launch of an annual campaign for a United Nations resolution that condemns the U.S. sanctions on the financially strapped island. Rodriguez called the U.S. sanctions "the main cause of the economy's problems and obstacle to development." He said over the 55 years the embargo had been in place, it had cost Cuba a total of $125.9 billion. The figure includes actual costs, such as fines on Cuba's business partners, and hypothetical figures, such as sales Cuban businesses could have been making in U.S. markets. Since Cuba and the United States re-established diplomatic ties in a surprise move in December 2014, the two nations have opened embassies, restored commercial flights, eased travel restrictions, and negotiated trade, environmental, and communications agreements. But the U.S. has yet to fully lift its trade embargo on Cuba, an issue that has been the subject of a nonbinding U.N. resolution in the General Assembly that has passed every year since 1992. Cuba has been the driving force behind the resolution, but it has overwhelming support from other nations. Cuba and the United States have been at odds since Fidel Castro took control of the country — ousting a U.S.-backed government — and established a communist government in 1959. The trade embargo was established in 1960. The United States traditionally votes against the U.N. resolution and claims Cuba owes it $10 billion for American property and companies seized by the Castro regime. This year's vote in the U.N. is set for October 26. U.S. President Barack Obama says he opposes the trade embargo, but says only Congress has the authority to completely lift the sanctions. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean Sea, just 145 kilometers from the southeastern coast of the United States.