April 24, 2022

Against US Imposed Sanctions and Blockades

US-imposed sanctions wreck the economies of target countries and cause immense suffering to their people. Because of sanctions, Iraq experienced a lack of drinking water, proper sewage systems, fuel, and wood as well as an increase in the spread of disease and mortality. Iran and Syria suffered a decline in the availability of food and medicines. Poverty and income-gaps increased under sanctions. An analysis of United States’ sanctions imposed since 2000 shows that they reduced the human development index of targeted countries and increased corruption. Malnourishment, hunger, and starvation deaths are also caused by sanctions. Hundreds of thousands have died in many countries on which sanctions have been imposed.

Cuba has suffered the most from US-imposed sanctions. As a result of the sanctions and the pandemic, the Cuban economy contracted by 11 per cent in 2020. According to one estimate, the blockade, now almost 60 years old, cost the Cuban economy over 147 billion dollars at current prices (2021), or more than a thousand billion dollars, when considering the depreciation of the dollar as compared to the value of gold on the international market. After Donald Trump came to power, he strengthened the sanctions, issuing over 240 economic measures against Cuba. Joe Biden neither undid the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration nor struck Cuba off the list of “state sponsors of terrorism.” In fact, he has tightened the embargo.

The US used the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to intensify its attacks on Cuba. It brought to force Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, in order to threaten firms that trade with Cuba. The US administration threatened many countries that have medical cooperation agreements with Cuba and forced them to curtail such agreements. Brazil, Ecuador and other such countries from Latin America were forced to send back Cuban doctors working among poor communities in their countries. This led to the fast spread of the pandemic and caused high mortality. Apart from these human costs, the tightening of sanctions prevented Cuba from importing many essential raw materials used in its pharmaceutical industry and to develop medicines.

The US tried to instigate popular unrest against shortages of essential commodities – shortages caused by sanctions against Cuba. It had put to use its entire array of media forces, including various social media platforms, to spread falsehood and incite people to protest. The vigilance of the Communist Party and the Cuban government nipped such attempts in the bud.

The US embargo clearly violates the UN charter and international law. For the 29th consecutive year, members of the UN General Assembly have voted overwhelmingly to end the embargo on Cuba, most recently by a vote of 184 to two. But the US government refuses to listen to world public opinion.

DPRK has been subjected to US imposed embargo for the last 70 years, which pushed the country to face enormous difficulties.

Another Latin American State facing the brunt of US-imposed sanctions is Venezuela. The US froze $7 billion of the assets of the Venezuelan State oil company (PDVSA) and the United Kingdom blocked the Maduro government from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth of gold deposited in the Bank of England. The US wanted to ensure a regime change in Venezuela, but had failed.

In 2019, the US under Donald Trump withdrew unilaterally from the nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions. In February 2021, President Biden announced that sanctions against Iran would continue under his presidency. These sanctions crippled its economy, blocked access to essential medicines and caused the deaths of thousands of people, including children.

In March 2022, the United States had sanctions in place against more than 22 countries and 7,000 companies, individuals, and groups. This is more than at any other time in US history. The countries or regions subject to US sanctions include Afghanistan, the Balkans, Belarus, Burma, Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. This list shows that sanctions have increasingly become a weapon wielded by the US against any country that does not follow its dictates. For the US, sanctions are an instrument to ensure regime change.

After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the US imposed sanctions against Russia and froze Russia’s foreign exchange reserves held in the West. Similarly, the US is trying to control China, which it has clearly identified as a threat to its global dominance, by imposing sanctions on selected entities and increasing import tariffs. At different points in time, the US has also threatened to impose various kinds of sanctions on India.

It is clear that the US uses sanctions as a weapon to impose its hegemony over the world. The US wants to protect its influence and control the world economy by imposing sanctions and threatening countries with its military might. Our fight against imperialism and its hegemony should thus include opposition to its sanctions and also militarisation.

The 23rd Congress of the CPI(M) demands the immediate lifting of all kinds of sanctions and embargoes imposed on countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It calls upon the people to join the fight against imperialism and for an egalitarian world order.