Cuba estimates 35 million dollars losses to culture due to the US blockade in the past year alone

Despite the announcement by former President Obama in December 2014 and his policy directive recognizing it as an obsolete policy, this June 2017 the current US President Trump signed the ‘National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States toward Cuba'. This directive establishes a new policy that proclaims as one of its main objectives the tightening of the blockade against the Island. In order to achieve that goal, President Trump announced the adoption of new coercive measures against Cuba and the reversal of others that were adopted by his predecessor that had modified the implementation of some aspects of the blockade in the areas of travelling and trade. Likewise, he proclaimed that the United States would oppose all demands in favour of the lifting of the blockade at the United Nations and other international forums, in an open challenge to the views expressed by the overwhelming majority of the international community as well as the public opinion of broad sectors of the US society.

The blockade against Cuba is still in force and is being fully implemented. The full report produced by the Cuban government of negative impacts of the blockade on Cuba in the last year (April 2016-June 2017) has been published. The report highlights numerous examples of the effects of the blockade in the areas of food supplies, health and medical supplies, education, culture, sport, development, technology, commerce and tourism.

Specifically as regards the area of culture the report states:

"The implementation of the US blockade has affected bilateral exchanges in the field of culture. Only during the period covered by this Report, losses have been estimated at no less than 35 314 000 dollars, which represents a 16 per cent increase as compared to the same period of last year. The blockade prevents the adequate promotion, advertisement and marketing of the Cuban artistic talent; it reduces to a minimum the sale prices of cultural products and services and restricts the enjoyment of Cuban music by the international audience, due to the control exerted by the big transnationals of art and music, most of them from the United States.

In the case of music, the live performances of Cuban musicians in the United States must only be as part of a cultural exchange, without any commercial contract between the parties. Cuban companies do not receive any economic benefit, for they cannot arrange the performance of any of these groups in other more profitable markets during the time in which those groups are taking part in the exchanges with the US.

In the case of the marketing and promotion of visual arts, the provisions established by the US Treasury have remained in force, even though the Bergman amendment authorizes the legal acquisition of Cuban art.

Next are some examples of the negative effects of the blockade on culture during the period covered by this Report:

In the field of music, during the period covered by this Report 46 cultural exchanges took place in the US, which involved the participation of 308 musicians. Should there have been contracts supporting these performances, and based on conservative estimates, Cuba could have received around 673 300 dollars.

• It has been estimated that, in the absence of the restrictions imposed by the blockade, Cuban musical groups would have revenues amounting to more than 3 million dollars a year, given their quality and the preference for the Cuban music in that market. This estimate was based on the fact that some of the most important Latin groups in the United States have played Cuban music in their concerts, which have been rated at 100 000 dollars as an average. If more than 10 of the most important Cuban musical groups could perform in the United States, offering only 3 concerts a year, the above figure would be much higher.

• During the period covered by this Report, the Cuban company EGREM was unable to sign contracts with its counterparts Blue Night Entertainment, Magnus Media, My Latin Thing and Los Canarios Music for the performance, in the United States, of the Cuban groups Buena Fe; Leoni Torres; Salsa, Mambo y Cha Cha Chá; and Septeto Santiaguero, due to the implementation of the US blockade laws. For that reason, the revenues foregone by EGREM have been estimated at 500 000 dollars.

With regard to music copyrights between Cuba and the United States, so far it has been impossible to sign Reciprocal Representation Agreements (RRA) between both countries. The observance of copyrights and the payment of royalties to authors are recognized by the legal systems of most of the countries of the world. These principles are established in international conventions that Cuba and the United States are Party to.

Next are some of the negative effects caused by the US blockade in this sector: The Cuban Association of Music Copyright (ACDAM) was not able to sign a reciprocal representation agreement with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) despite the consensus and understanding achieved by both institutions.

• Three members of ACDAM were unable to complete an on-line course taught by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) on copyright and collective management. Before the conclusion of the course, the Cuban representatives received a notification by CISAC informing that the course would be closed to them because Cuba was a country subject to the US government sanctions. Said notification was expressly posted in the website

The Cuban Fund of Cultural Goods (FCBC) gathers a wide range of artists, crafts persons and designers. Around 8 000 of them market their products through a network of shops, art galleries or a system of events sponsored by that organization, such as art fairs, visual arts exhibitions and also by working to order. The exports made by this institution from April of 2016 to March of 2017 were worth 1 942 200 dollars. None of them was made to the US market.

Taking into account the potential of Cuban artists, the aesthetic quality of their works and the natural market that the US could be for Cuban visual and applied arts, FCBC has estimated that if the barriers imposed by the blockade did not exist, exports to that market could amount to no less than 12 million dollars a year. This analysis is based on the incomes earned by Mexico and the Dominican Republic in the year 2016 from the export of similar quality products and with virtually the same production capacity Cuba has.

The development of the movie industry in Cuba has also been severely affected as a result of the conditions imposed by the blockade. Next are some examples of these negative effects:

• The arts and movie industry sector reports that, as a result of the implementation of the blockade, Cuba can not have access to the technology developed by the prestigious US company Dolby, the distributor of sound technologies for movies. Sound recording and movie making processes all over the world are forced to use the technology provided by that company; without its credits it is virtually impossible to be inserted in the international market. Thus, Cuba is unnecessarily forced to associate itself to foreign co-producers in order to acquire the corresponding licenses – and, in addition, transfer to them part of the Cuban potential market.

• The animation studios have no access to the licenses of the software indispensable for their production processes. The only possible alternative, as in the aforementioned case, is to create a partnership with foreign producers, which means that the revenues resulting from these productions have to be shared.

More generally, according to the report:

"The damages caused by the implementation of the blockade throughout almost six decades have been estimated at 822 280 000 000 dollars, taking into account the devaluation of the US dollar vis-à-vis the price of gold in the world market. At current prices, the quantifiable damages caused by the blockade have been estimated at more than 130 178 600 000 dollars.

During the period covered by this Report, the damages caused by the blockade to Cuba have been estimated at 4 305 400 000 dollars. Putting this figure into perspective, according to estimates from the Ministry of Economy and Planning of Cuba, this means that the country needs from 2 to 2.5 billion dollars in direct foreign investments to achieve economic development. In other words the annual cost of the blockade to Cuba is twice the amount it needs to fully develop its economy.

The blockade continues to be a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans and qualifies as an act of genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948. It is also an obstacle to international cooperation."

Full report here