World Economy

Cuba Says US Blockade Cost $4.7b Since Thaw

The embargo is the main cause of the country’s economic problems.The embargo is the main cause of the country’s economic problems.

Cuba said Friday the United States’s 54-year-old trade embargo has cost the island $4.7 billion since April 2015 despite the former Cold War enemies’ historic rapprochement.

Washington and Havana announced in December 2014 they would move to restore ties after more than half a century of enmity, and renewed diplomatic relations in July 2015, VoA reported.

But while US President Barack Obama has chipped away at certain restrictions on Cuba, he has not managed to persuade a Congress controlled by his Republican opponents to lift the full embargo imposed on the communist island since 1962.

“The embargo is the main cause of our economy’s problems, the main obstacle to our development,” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said at a press conference to release the latest figure, which runs from April 2015 through March 2016.

“There’s no sector in Cuba that doesn’t suffer the consequences of the blockade.”

However, he said, “there’s been no fundamental change in the application of the blockade, and because of that, I can say, there hasn’t been a greater economic impact of the executive actions until now and there won’t be until we see bigger steps.”

Rodriguez acknowledged the problems of Cuba’s centrally controlled economy, which is struggling to increase productivity in the face of an outdated and inefficient bureaucracy and low state salaries that lead many employees to steal from their workplaces or accept small bribes in order to get by.

“No one’s ignoring or aims to hide our problems, our limitations, our mistakes,” he said. “But neither can we diminish the impact of the blockade.”

The United States for its part says Cuba owes it $10 billion for seizing American property and companies after Fidel Castro took control of the country in the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

It has become an annual rite for Cuba to present a non-binding resolution calling for the end of the embargo before the United Nations General Assembly, which has passed with overwhelming support every year since 1992.

This year’s resolution will be presented on October 26. Last year, only the United States and Israel voted against.