From Platt Amendment to Helms-Burton Act

On February 21, 1901, the first Constitution of the Republic of Cuba was approved, without making it clear how relations with the United States remained, an essential question for the true purposes of the US military occupation.

The United States Congress had approved an amendment to the Army Credits Act, presented by Senator Orville H. Platt. Beginning June 12, 1901, the Constitution would carry a macabre appendix known as the Platt Amendment.

As a consequence, Cuba would suffer serious limitations in its sovereignty, and in international relations. The Platt Amendment, on the other hand, left the Isle of Youth outside Cuba’s borders and gave free rein to the military occupation.

However, the most damaging and repudiated articles by honorable Cubans were the third and seventh, as they were the ones that placed national sovereignty in foreign hands. The third opened the doors to the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba under the pretext of maintaining its independence and protecting lives and properties.

The seventh stipulated the sale or lease to the United States of land for coal or naval stations. From here came the establishment of the Guantánamo Naval Base, which served military functions until the end of the last century, when it has become a penitentiary and torture center. Today is still illegally occupied, against the will of the Cuban government and people, and in frank violation of our national sovereignty. Today Cuba has a Constitution free of amendments, even though Guantánamo is in the aftermath.

However, we are still under imperial siege, at a much higher and more hostile stage. Orville Platt could never imagine something like the Helms-Burton Act. The Platt Amendment was too small before the Act signed by Bill Clinton in 1996, whose title three came into force on May 2, 2019.

In those days, in order to tighten the blockade, nine bills and a resolution were presented to the U.S. Congress that even sought to internationalize the encirclement from the United Nations.

One year before the approval, the senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms, and the representative from Indiana, Dan Burton, made public that proposal that has behind it the unhealthy interests of Bacardi, aspirant to recover his properties in Cuba.

Both congressmen had been working against Cuba taking advantage of their positions: Helms as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Burton as head of the Hemispheric Affairs Department in the House.

In reality, that poisoned legislation was drafted by Roger Noriega, a man very close to Helms, as well as by Cuban-born legislators in Congress and Bacardi’s lawyers.

Helms, considered one of the most conservative U.S. politicians, snuck it in as an amendment to the Defense Budget Allocations Act to avoid any attempt to turn it back.

This law is not called the Cuban Law for Freedom and Democratic Solidarity, a title that only conceals the real objectives of its promoters: To destroy the Cuban Revolution and provoke a change of government, favorable to the US whims as the puppet governments used to do before 1959.

Written by Jorge Lora

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