United States blockade against Cuba history

The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for almost 60 years, is the longest economic aggression in human history, is the highest expression of a cruel and inhumane policy, lacking legality and legitimacy and deliberately designed to provoke hunger, disease and despair in the Cuban population.


On January 1, 1959, the revolutionary struggles in Cuba against the dictatorial regime of Fulgencio Batista ended victoriously and the revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro came to power.

The measures adopted by the Cuban Government aimed at recovering the country’s wealth and putting it at the service of the people affected the interests of the great North American monopolies that for more than half a century had looted the island’s resources and influenced its internal politics.

The will of the new authorities to act with full independence and to produce decisive economic and social changes in favor of the great majorities was the trigger for the historic dispute between the two countries. The response from the United States was swift and brutal from the begining. The sanctions aimed at subverting the Cuban Revolution followed one to another vertiginously:

Embargo no, blockade!

The economic aggression against Cuba is known in the United States as an “Embargo”. From the practical point of view, theses extensive sanctions are much more than an Embargo but an actual Blockade with a strong multinational component and impact. Many banks and different enterprises from the EU and other countries have been fined just because having regular, normal transactions with Cuba.

Currents legislation and regulations

The Blockade against Cuba is formed by a cumbersome amount of legal documents of all types:

  • Trading with the Enemy Act: The Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) of 1917 (40 Stat. 411, codified at 12 U.S.C. § 95 and 50 U.S.C. § 4301 et seq.) is a United States federal law, enacted on October 6, 1917, that gives the President of the United States the power to oversee or restrict any and all trade between the United States and its enemies in times of war. TWEA was amended in 1933 by the Emergency Banking Act to extend the president’s authority also in peace time. It was amended again in 1977 by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to restrict the application of TWEA only in times of war, while the IEEPA was intended to be used in peace time. As of 2018, Cuba is the only country restricted under TWEA.
  • Foreign Assistance Act: Through this law, enacted in September 1961, the United States Congress authorized the President of that country to establish and maintain “a total embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba.” It also prohibited the granting of any aid to the Government of Cuba and establishes that the funds of the United States government destined for international aid and delivered to international organizations may not be used for programs related to Cuba. It prohibits granting any assistance provided under this law or any other benefit provided in another law to Cuba, until the President determines that Cuba has carried out actions aimed at returning US citizens and companies, not less than 50 percent of the value or just compensation. , of the properties nationalized by the Cuban government after the triumph of the Revolution.
  • Presidential Proclamation 3447: Issued on february 3, 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, decreed a total “embargo” on trade between the United States and Cuba, in compliance with section 620 (a) of the Foreign Assistance Act.
  • The Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR 515: Issued in 1963. They stipulated the freezing of all Cuban assets in the United States; the prohibition of all financial and commercial transactions unless approved by a license; the ban on Cuban exports to the United States; the prohibition, to any natural or legal person of the United States or third countries, to carry out transactions in US dollars with Cuba; among others.
  • Export Administration Act and its regulations: Issued in 1979, as a result of the review of export controls. It granted the President the authority to control, in general, exports and re-exports of goods and technology and, in particular, to restrict those exports that contribute to the military potential of any country, to the detriment of the national security of the United States. They Establish a general denial policy for exports and re-exports to Cuba.
  • Cuban Democracy Act: This law, better known in Cuba as the Torricelli Law, was signed by President George Bush in October 1992. With it, the United States government reinforced economic measures against Cuba and provided normative support for the extraterritoriality of the blockade. It prohibited North American subsidiaries in third countries from carrying out transactions with Cuba or Cuban nationals and the entry into North American territory, for a period of 180 days, of ships from third countries that had touched Cuban ports, among other restrictions.
  • Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act: Known as the Helms-Burton Act. It was approved by President William Clinton in March 1996. It seeks to discourage foreign investment and internationalize the blockade against Cuba. It codified the provisions of the blockade, limited the prerogatives of the President to suspend this policy, and expanded its extraterritorial reach. It denied entry to the United States to executives of foreign companies (and their families) who invested in properties “confiscated” in Cuba and established the possibility of filing lawsuits against them in the United States courts.
  • Section 211 of the Supplemental and Emergency Allowances Act for fiscal year 1999: It prohibits the registration in the United States of trademarks associated with nationalized properties, as well as the recognition by the United States courts of the rights of Cuban companies over those trademarks.
  • Law on the Reform of Trade Sanctions and Expansion of Exports: Issued in 2000. It authorized the export of agricultural products to Cuba, conditional on payment in cash, in advance and without financing from the United States. It prohibited travel of American people for tourism purposes to Cuba, defining “tourist activity” as any activity related to traveling to, from or within Cuba that was not expressly authorized in section 515.560 of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations. That is, it limited travel to the 12 categories authorized at the time this legislation was enacted.