Cuba Politics

US Embargo reaches across the ocean to penalize small businesses in England

Posted June 16, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (original title: Bank ditches UK firms trading with Cuba)

A Somerset health shop selling Cuban sugar and a London tobacconist dealing in Habanos cigars are among British businesses told by Lloyds TSB to cut their ties with the island or move their bank accounts.

Lloyds TSB has written to customers who have dealings with Cuba saying they will have to take their accounts elsewhere, apparently in the wake of threats by the US government, which operates an embargo against Cuba.

The US has said it will prosecute any businesses that have any dealings with Cuba and also have a branch in the US.

The Queenswood Natural Foods company, of Bridgwater in Somerset, started buying sugar from Cuba last year and has found it to be a popular line.

Last month, the company received a letter from Lloyds TSB saying that the bank had “recently reviewed its approach to dealing with countries and entities that are subject to government and international sanctions across the globe in order to best protect its customers, its businesses, its people and its reputation”. It was no longer prepared to authorise payments from the company to buy sugar from Cuba.

Lloyds TSB has told a tobacco importer trading with the island for more than a century, dealing in the famous Habanos cigars, that it must also make alternative arrangements.

Spelling out the new policy, Phil Markey, relationship director at Lloyds TSB, is apologetic. “I would like to find a way to continue to make these payments for you - the decision however is down to a full risk assessment process within Lloyds TSB,” he wrote in a letter at the end of May. “I must advise you to find alternative ways of making payments to your suppliers with Cuban connections.”

The Cuban embassy was critical of the bank’s move, saying the Bush administration, in continuing the US’s “illegal, worldwide economic warfare against Cuba”, had been increasingly resorting to pressure through business and finance.

Businesses affected are angered by the decision, but some are reluctant to go public as they try and find other banks. “It is mystifying,” said one businessman. “We are able to trade with China and Vietnam but apparently not Cuba. It seems a nonsense.”

Lloyds TSB declined to answer questions on its policy over Cuba and whether it had been subjected to threats of legal action in the US. “We would not disclose details of our relationships or discussions with individual customers,” said a spokesman.

The Labour MP Ian Gibson, chairman of the all-party Cuba group, condemned Lloyds TSB’s action. “We will be taking action against this vindictive political campaign,” he said yesterday.

Member Comments

On June 16, 2008, publisher wrote:

It’s stupid US policy that gives many people around the world a distaste for the US.

I am ashamed for the Bush Administration and OFAC.

On June 16, 2008, manfredz wrote:

from some time in the future, this will definitely be seen as a dark time as bullies are usually seen from the perspective of history.
And as mentioned, Vietnam and China are big trading partners of the USA and have far from glowing human rights records…..

On June 16, 2008, edward wrote:

Hi Publisher

I agree with you, I’m reading this in England and my first first thought was;

What right has the US to impose it’s dictatorial and undemocratic laws onto anyone else? Just because of own warped view of the world it doesn’t mean everyone else show stoop to the same level. As for Lloyds TSB, they are weak and feeble minded and only interested in fleecing their customers whilst pandering to the bully. Shame on you Lloyds TSB, you’re an embarrassment.

On June 18, 2008, arteest wrote:

“What right has the US to impose it’s dictatorial and undemocratic laws onto anyone else?” Edward, it’s always been that way. In the past it was just more under the radar. Not only is there now globalization and the internet, etc., but I think Bush’s presidency has caused the rest of the world to really take a look at American policy. I’m not sure the US will ever get back to their “glory days.” The rest of the world has woken up and, as well, there are some big players coming on the scene. From what I’ve heard Obama say, he’d like to “lead” the world. Not sure that’s going to happen and with his inexperience it should be interesting to see what happens if he becomes prez.