U.S. embargo cost Cuba $4 billion in ’05, officials say
By Doreen Hemlock
Posted October 3 2006
HAVANA · The U.S. embargo on Cuba cost the Caribbean nation more than $4
billion last year, double the tally a year earlier, as tougher U.S.
rules took a bigger bite out of the island’s recovering economy, Cuban
officials said Monday.
Cuba saw sharp declines in the number of U.S. visitors and
Cuban-Americans coming to see family because of Washington’s tighter
rules on travel to the island.
Restrictions on money transfers and packages meant less cash and fewer
goods arriving in Cuba for friends and family, Cuban authorities said.
Despite rising U.S. pressure, Cuba’s economy posted robust growth in
2005: roughly 12 percent, according to Economy and Planning Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez.
More U.S. pressure on a bigger Cuban economy exacted a heftier toll,
including greater outlays for insurance and freight as Cuba boosted
trade with nations more distant than its northern neighbor, Cuba’s Vice
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told a news conference. “This is not an
embargo … but an act of economic war,” Rodriguez charged.
The Bush administration is tightening its four-decade-old economic
embargo on Cuba in a bid to squeeze the island’s communist-led
government. But Havana said the Americans are increasingly isolated in
their push, as more and more nations condemn the embargo.
Last year, 182 countries voted in the United Nations against the U.S.
embargo on Cuba, up from 59 in 1992, Rodriguez said. The annual U.N.
vote on what Havana generally calls a “blockade” is scheduled for Nov. 8.
In all, Cuba claims “conservatively” that the decades-old U.S. trade and
business restrictions have cost the island more than $86 billion,
That includes income lost as the tally of Cuban-American visitors fell
from more than 115,000 in 2003 to less than 62,000 in 2005, down 54
percent. Visits from other Americans fell 45 percent, from more than
85,000 in 2003 to 39,000 in 2005, he said.
Without the embargo, Cuba could attract 5 million U.S. visitors yearly,
representing at least $7 billion a year in revenue, Rodriguez said,
citing U.S. studies.