21st Century Pirates

By Randy Alonso Falcon on September 18, 2019

The Pirates of the Empire, Illustration: Diego Rafael Albornoz

The main characters of the American administration are acting as modern day Pirates of the Caribbean. They wield the sabre to frighten, or they buy wills with money. They are a true brotherhood of evil: Trump, Pence, Bolton, Rubio, are some of the most renowned filibusters.

It doesn’t matter that the most mustached of them saw his political head roll because of the electoral fury of the Pirate Chief. His vandalism is still very fresh and visible.

Illegally confiscating the financial resources of other nations, appropriating natural resources, removing rival companies from their monopolies, and even driving ships away from a beautiful Caribbean island are among their modes of operation.

The blockade against Cuba entered a new phase in April 2019. At that time, the White House opted for a selective naval blockade against Cuba, which would hinder the arrival in the country of the fuels necessary for the economy and social development.

It was a step that was the result of fury against the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, which they could not defeat, and with the purpose of retaliation against Cuba, which they wanted to blame for the failure of their Venezuelan adventure.

The prepared antecedent of the imperial measures was the intervention of the self-proclaimed Juan Guaidó in the National Assembly of Venezuela, on March 11, 2019, in which, without any legal or real power, he announced the suspension of oil shipments to Cuba with immediate effect.

On Friday, April 5, from Rice University in Houston, in the heart of the U.S. oil industry, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence announced “sanctions” against the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and against Greek and Liberian shipping companies for participating in Venezuelan oil shipments to Cuba.

The idea was to make Venezuelan oil exports collapse, take away from Maduro’s government its main source of foreign exchange, and at the same time cause hardship in Cuba, which has caused the empire so many headaches. “The United States will continue to exert all diplomatic and economic pressure to achieve a peaceful transition to democracy,” justified the Vice President.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in explaining the measures in Washington, rampantly argued in a communiqué the insistently aired ideas weeks earlier by Marco Rubio and John Bolton: “Cuba has been an underlying force that has driven Venezuela’s descent into crisis. The Treasury is taking action against ships and oil carriers, providing a lifeline to keep Maduro’s illegitimate regime afloat. Cuba continues to benefit and shore up Maduro’s illegitimate regime through repressive oil schemes while trying to keep Maduro in power. The United States remains committed to a transition to democracy in Venezuela and to the responsibility of the Cuban regime for its direct participation in Venezuela’s disappearance.”

And so, “democratically”, the U.S. administration identified as blocked properties 34 ships used by PDVSA and the tanker Despina Andrianna, registered property of the company Ballito Bay Shipping Inc, based in Monrovia, Liberia, and operated by Proper In Management Inc.

Sanctions include freezing financial assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting financial transactions with listed entities and vessels. In convoluted language, the Treasury Department stated that “As a result of today’s action, all assets and interests in the property of these entities, and of any entity owned, directly or indirectly, by 50 percent or more of the designated entities, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of the United States are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. OFAC regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or in transit through) the United States involving any property or interest in the property of blocked or designated persons.”

The now Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere, Michael Kozak, welcomed the step taken by his administration on Twitter. Kozak was head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba and one of the organizers of the anti-Cuban provocation at the U.N. last year.

Senator Marco Rubio, the driving force behind the Trump administration’s aggressive plans against Cuba, rejoiced with fruition at what had been announced and announced that new measures would come in the coming weeks.

The public announcement of the measures and the discourse used by White House officials sought to intimidate others into not engaging in the legitimate fuel trade between Venezuela and Cuba.

On April 12, OFAC included in the list of sanctioned the Italian company PB Tankers S.p.A. for having contracted its tanker Silver Point to transport fuels from Venezuela to Cuba. OFAC extended the measure to the 6 ships of this shipping company. The Liberian companies Jennifer Navigation, Lima Shipping and Large Range were also retaliated against.

On May 10, measures were imposed on Marshall Islands-based Monsoon Navigation, the registered owner of the oil tanker Ocean Elegance, and Liberian Serenity Maritime, which, according to the Treasury, facilitated deliveries of Venezuelan crude oil and petroleum products to Cuba in early 2019. On July 3, the U.S. Treasury announced measures against the Cuban company Cubametales for its continued importation of Venezuelan fuels.

Steven Mnuchin, secretary of the Treasury, announced the measures in a statement in which he justified: “The sanctions will harm Maduro’s attempts to use Venezuelan oil as a bargaining chip to help his supporters buy protection from Cuba and other perverse foreign actors”.

With this step, the United States Government was not only aiming at Cuba’s fuel trade with Venezuela, but was also trying to dismantle the Cuban company in charge of importing the fuels, additives and oils that the country needs and contracting the ships that must transport this fuel from any market from which it is imported.

Showing its perverse face, on the same day as the measures against Cubametales, the Treasury Department announced the removal from its blacklist of PB Tankers S.p.A., for having complied with Washington’s demands. After being sanctioned in April, the shipping company had terminated its Silver Point tanker contract with Cubametales to transport fuel between Venezuela and Cuba. The Treasury Department said sarcastically that “positive changes in behavior can result in the lifting of sanctions.”

The best example of the genocidal and filthy purpose of the siege against Cuba and imperial arrogance is a tweet of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on July 17 in which he tries to intimidate the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago so that they do not allow the arrival in Cuba of a shipment of Liquefied Gas LPG, used by 1 million 700 thousand Cuban families for cooking food. For those summer months, the Cuban government had to space the delivery cycles of the liquefied gas due to the short stock of the same in the country.

Last July 26, during the Central Act for the National Rebellion Day celebrated in Granma, the Cuban President publicly denounced the aggressive escalation against our country, particularly accentuated in the blockade of fuel access.

Diaz-Canel pointed out in his speech that day, “Today I denounce to the people of Cuba and the world that the United States administration has begun to act more aggressively to prevent the arrival of fuel in Cuba. With cruel extraterritorial actions of blockade, today it is a question of preventing by all means the arrival to Cuban ports of the tankers, brutally threatening the shipping companies, the governments of the countries where the ships are registered and the insurance companies.”

The genocidal plan is to affect, even more, the quality of life of the population, its progress and even its hopes, with the objective of hurting the Cuban family in its daily life, in its basic needs, and at the same time accusing the Cuban Government of inefficiency. They are looking for a social outburst.

How little they know about us! When will they understand that the heroic Cuban family is capable of facing and resisting with dignity the worst sieges and continue to love each other, even in the distance, because nothing and no one can divide it?

They want to cut off the electricity, the water and even the air in order to wrest political concessions from us. They don’t even hide their intentions. They publicly declare the funds destined for subversion within Cuba, they invent false and hypocritical pretexts to reincorporate us to their spurious lists and justify the intensification of the blockade.

It has been five months since this ferocious siege of any tanker attempting to approach Cuba to fetch fuel began, and continued pressure on shipping lines and insurance companies to compel them not to enter into contracts with Cuba.

As a high-ranking Donald Trump administration official stated from anonymity in a teleconference with journalists last July: “Every action we have taken against the Cuban government has been specifically directed at its financial networks, its revenues, its oil trade.”

Despite the size of the challenge, the Cuban government has so far been able to minimize the impact of this brutal war on the daily lives of Cubans.

The lack of fuels that we are now experiencing in this hot September, with a direct impact on transport, production and other areas of our daily lives has clear and dirty culprits. But like so many other times when the empire has tried to subdue us, we Cubans are giving a virile response, at the height of our glorious History.

Reviewing the comments about this article, I came across an assessment of José R. Oro, who among his many valuable things remembers that, “One of the greatest historical coincidences is Playa Girón, the site of the first defeat of imperialism in America in the 20th century, which was named by the French pirate Gilberto Girón, killed from a launch of the Cuban slave Salvador Golomon in the early 17th century.”

Unwaveringly on the side of our people, who will re edit the recurring victory of the Girón now against the pirates of our time! They should expect the Girón of the 21st century.

Following the Oro line I would also point out that another coincidence is that Pence announced the blockade against fuel for Cuba in Houston. That was the name of the invading ship that Fidel put out of combat with a cannon fire on April 1961.

Source: Cubadebate, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau