How the US blockade of Cuba affects sports and culture

“Cuban sports, acknowledged in the rest of the world for the mark it has left on a number of events in all categories, also faces many roadblocks for its development and consolidation.”

The annual Terry Fox Run in Cuba is the largest in the world.

The annual Terry Fox Run in Cuba is the largest in the world.

Today the United Nations General Assembly is voting for the 23rd consecutive year on Cuba’s Resolution 68/8 against the U.S. blockade of the island republic entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” Each year the resolution has passed with an increasing majority. In this post, we are providing information about the effects of this criminal blockade in the sphere of sports and culture. To read the full content of Cuba’s detailed Report on the UN Resolution, issued July 2014, click here: Cuba vs the Blockade, from which the following chapter is excerpted.

1.4. Sports and Culture

In the face of current imbalances in flows and exchanges of cultural goods and services at the global level, it is necessary to reinforce international cooperation and solidarity aimed at enabling all countries, especially developing countries and countries in transition, to establish cultural industries that are viable and competitive at national and international level.” *

The Cuban Revolution shows a long tradition of promoting culture and sports, spheres that have been integrated as essential elements for the education and development of Cuban citizenry.

The Cuban State is making great efforts to let the world know about the creative capacities and talents of the Cuban people. However, the blockade continues to set up barriers to the length of the dissemination of Cuban cultural heritage and its practice of healthy sports for all.

The blockade continues to be a serious obstacle for the adequate promotion, broadcasting and commercialization of Cuban cultural talent. At the same time it depresses to very low levels the sales prices of Cuban cultural products and limits for international audiences the enjoyment of Cuban music. One of the main reasons is the control of the market exercised by large arts and music transnationals which are either American or have a strong presence in the United States. Those big companies dominate the promotional and show circuits for artists on an international level.

Likewise, for example, live shows of Cuban musicians in the United States must take on the nature of cultural exchanges, without the intervention of commercial contracts between the parties as is the case all over the world, thereby making it impossible to receive economic benefits for them.

This has been the case of Cuban artists such as Buena Fe, Osmany García, Partes Privadas, the Septeto Santiaguero (nominated for the Latin Grammies) and René Arancibia the audiovisual creator whose shows were promoted by EGREM (Musical Recording and Publishing Enterprise of Cuba). The same thing occurred with other recognized Cuban musicians such as Ivette Cepeda, the Charanga Habanera and the Orquesta de Elito Revé y su Charangón, associated with other Cuban enterprises and representation agencies.

During 2013, EGREM registered commercialization in a covertly fashion, by foreign entrepreneurs, of important Cuban musical recordings such as Colección de CDs Cinco Leyendas de Cuba and Banda Gigante del Benny Moré. Volumes sold are estimated at around 5000 units and are priced at around 20.00 dollars. The impossibility of normally and directly access the US record market, especially important in the music market, brings with it the consequence of economic losses that are difficult to calculate in terms of figures.

As for the Cuban movie-making industry, this has been affected in terms of possible exports to the US since Cuba cannot attend the American Film Market in Los Angeles. This international market, doubtlessly one of the most important and clearly the window giving access to the entire United States film market is forbidden for the International Sales apparatus of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC).

Also, participation by Cuban students and professors at different events such as competitions, festivals, workshops and other activities based in the US is very limited for all these following specialties: theatre, dance, ballet, visual arts and music. In this way the US Government prohibits the drawing up of cultural agreements between homologous teaching institutes of the two countries that would make possible the cultural growth and artistic creation of our students.

Cuban sports, acknowledged in the rest of the world for the mark it has left on a number of events in all categories, also faces many roadblocks for its development and consolidation.

Cuban sports, acknowledged in the rest of the world for the mark it has left on a number of events in all categories, also faces many roadblocks for its development and consolidation.

The blockade policy continues to block and sometimes prevent direct and normal relations with different international sports institutions and the participation of athletes at important competitions that take place in the US or in Cuba. The extra-territorial dimension of its measures also makes access to external financing more expensive and it hampers the acquisition of sporting equipment.

In some cases Cuban sports teams have had to forget about acquiring top sporting equipment that is mainly manufactured by US companies or, in the best of cases, resort to faraway markets to buy them at much higher prices.

Despite this hostile policy, the Cuban Government has not stopped guaranteeing access to the practice of sports to all of its citizens.

Despite this hostile policy, the Cuban Government has not stopped guaranteeing access to the practice of sports to all of its citizens. However, we must underline that the effects of the blockade are translated into daily shortages that affect development in that area.

Cuba has been limited in its acquisition of Louisville, Wilson, Xbat, Rawlings and Easton brand sports equipment, all manufactured by American companies, many of which are of mandatory use according to the official regulations of international sports federations. Consequently Cuba has had to go to third countries to buy them, with all the additional expenses that entails.

The Institute of Sports Medicine has not been able to acquire reagents and referential substances for the Anti-doping Lab, which come from American companies or their subsidiaries in third countries. That is the case of monoclonal antibodies in order to determine human erythropoietin, one of the signs of doping, manufactured exclusively by US companies. The same is the case for a hematological complex to make up hematological passports for Cuban athletes.

Specialists at the Center for Sports Research have not been able to participate in scientific events held in the United States, nor have US experts been able to attend events organized in Cuba. Something similar occurs with athletes at teaching institutes; they have been denied the possibility of training together. During the period, the visits of 6 groups of Americans interested in sports exchanges were cancelled when they were refused the permits needed to travel to Cuba.


Universal Declaration of UNESCO on Cultural Diversity, Article 10 – Strengthening capacities for creation and dissemination worldwide, November 2, 2001.

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One response to “How the US blockade of Cuba affects sports and culture

  1. Pingback: US embargo still punishes Cuban baseball players | Friendship First, Competition Second – An Amateur Sport Website

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