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US Treasury Department Office vs Cuba
The knife can cut in any place. Now there is another small, but surely painful incision - impaling nothing less than the emblem of the American financial fabric and the world banking network: Citigroup. This survivor of the 1929 depression, and one of the largest financial institutions on the planet, has just been sanctioned by the of the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) with a fine of $16,250 dollars thanks to that government entitys razor-sharp cutting edge.

The reason is as ridiculous as the 50-year American blockade of the island, and as dirty as its crude ways of imposing it, using blackmail and coercion.

The press releases that reported on the matter indicated that the fine was imposed because Citigroup "Didn't have a license and acted outside of its authority" when it accepted "the payment of goods sent through a Cuban company."

What adds to the tragedy "that impacts not only Cubans, but non-island institutions that are sullied in this way" is that this "infraction" occurred in 2004 and was admitted by the consortium itself, apparently in an unsuspecting manner.

The incident is not surprising given the long list of American financial institutions fined for processing transactions with Cuba, as well as the situation in which banks in third countries are forced by Washington to cut their ties with the island, which must be even more humiliating to them. Cuban documentation counts a score of such actions since the more "sophisticated" Bush Plan of fortified measures against banking institutions went into effect in 2006. This tightened the screws of the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts.

The extraterritoriality of the blockade is a heavy and insulting load that third countries must shoulder. Institutions in those countries that dare to defy the American prohibition of touching any money moving to or from Cuba will suffer because Washington will take actions against their financial assets in US. This is how coercion is exerted.

Even without crossing US borders, this gives rise to other serious violations of international law, as was committed by an American bank in October 2006 when it refused to transfer Cubas annual contributions to the United Nations.

The aim of stopping flows of money toward the island is pursued and punished - be they large sums of banks and businesses or modest transfers between family members. This promotes all types of callousness, as this office of the US Treasury Department tosses on their ears even well established international banking institutions.

The Kinecta Federal Credit Union of California and the Atlantic Bank of Florida were also penalized with fines of $3,102 dollars and $7,500 dollars over the last few months.

However, the American regulations in the finance and banking environment are hardly the worst of this irrational policy. The same is applied even against medical teams attempting to save lives, which gives this "twist" of the blade an especially inhuman edge. Also can be mentioned was the cold-heartedness of Japans Nikon company, which refused to award a prize to a Cuban child who had won its company-sponsored competition.


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