Torricelli Law

Torricelli Law . Project presented at the first session of the 102nd Congress of the United States , by Robert Torricelli , Democratic representative and later senator for New Jersey , and by the senator for the state of Florida, Bob Graham .

The Torricelli law, passed in the North American Congress, was promulgated by former President George Bush (Sr.) on October 23 , 1992 , in the middle of the electoral campaign, with the purpose, among others, of winning over the Florida electorate.

Its fundamental objective is to completely isolate Cuba from the international economic environment and make its economy collapse. The provisions contained in that legislation, of a profoundly extraterritorial nature, constitute a flagrant violation of the international norms that govern the freedom of commerce and navigation and reflect contempt and disrespect for the sovereignty of third States.

It is one of the most complete expressions of the empire’s aggressive line against the Cuban Revolution, articulating a whole euphemistic rhetoric that raises concepts such as democracy, human rights, and market economy, without ruling out the suggestion of a possible military intervention.


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  • 1 Background
    • 1 Mack Amendment
    • 2 Smith Amendment
  • 2 Torricelli Law
    • 1 Essence
    • 2 Legal origin of the Law
    • 3 Political context in which the Law is adopted
    • 4 Sanction to Torricelli Law
      • 4.1 Sanction
    • 5 Legislative Characteristics of the Law
      • 5.1 Section 1701
      • 5.2 Section 1702
      • 5.3 Section 1703
      • 5.4 Section 1704
      • 5.5 Section 1705
      • 5.6 Section 1706
    • 3 Extraterritoriality of the Law
    • 4 References
    • 5 Sources


In 1992 , the difficulties faced by the Cuban economy worsened as a result of the dismantling of ties with its former trading partners in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe . It is at this juncture that the so-called Torricelli Law, also known as the Cuban Democracy Law, is approved on this date by the United States House of Representatives .

The main sponsor of the project was Robert Torricelli , a Democratic representative and later a senator from New Jersey , one of the main recipients of money from the counterrevolutionary organization Cuban American National Foundation and who was later involved in a scandal over shady financial management and bribery of his campaign that forced him away from politics.

Mack Amendment

The most important antecedent of the Torricelli Law is the Mack Amendment [1] , an amendment that owes its name to Senator Connie Mack , a Republican senator from Florida , known for his reactionary and anti-Cuban positions, a strategic ally of the Cuban American National Foundation , of which received large sums of money.

The Amendment specifically established the total prohibition of companies from third countries, subsidiaries of North American headquarters, from establishing some type of economic-commercial operation with Cuba . It was introduced for the first time in 1989 , it did not become law; It was subsequently introduced, in 1990 in two different projects, with the purpose of guaranteeing that it would in any way become law, and later in 1991 .

The Amendment did not become law, even though it was approved by all congressional bodies, as a result of the insertion in very complicated projects, and in 1990 it reached the presidential table and the project in which it was included was vetoed, for the then President George Bush , precisely objecting to it because of its extraterritorial nature and because of the effects that it could bring from the economic-commercial point of view in its relations with third countries.

This Amendment constitutes the first attempt to close the small gap that had been opened to the entire network of the blockade through the trade of North American subsidiaries in third countries with Cuba. This trade was modified in 1975 , and the purpose of the amendment was the economic strangulation of Cuba at a time when the crisis was taking place and the dismantling of the socialist camp, with all the effects that this brought to the Cuban economy, essentially in terms of losing their markets.

The amendment constituted the concrete expression of the strategy that the sectors of the North American extreme right were drawn in alliance with the sectors of the Cuban-American mafia to try to give what they claimed was going to be the coup de grace to the Cuban Revolution .

Smith Amendment

The Mack Amendment was not the only measure in this direction, but was part of a whole scaffolding of actions that were adopted by Congress and by the Executive with the same purpose of economically asphyxiating Cuba , politically isolating it and even encourage internal subversion.

As part of this scaffolding there is also another important antecedent of the Torricelli Law, and it is the so-called Smith Amendment [2] , which owes its name, in this case, to a representative, also from Florida, Lawrence Smith , very closely connected with the Cuban American National Foundation , and which contained the same prohibition of the Mack Amendment, but went further and also contained another stipulation that included the seizure and seizure of ships that, after touching Cuban ports, within a period of 180 days, could enter some North American port.

That Smith Amendment, which represented an even tougher version of the Mack in the House, also failed to become law at this time. However, both legislative measures constituted the most important precedent for what would be the essence of the Torricelli Law a year after 1992 .

There are other projects and other measures that are implemented, and that are later taken up and included in the text of the Torricelli Amendment.

Torricelli Law


It was conceived as the coup de grace to the Cuban Revolution, an extremely opportunistic maneuver to suffocate the people at the precise moment in which they faced the challenge of surviving as a nation, in general it had the objective of overthrowing the Revolution in the context of the disappearance of socialism as a system with the consequent drastic change in the economy in Cuba.

In the commercial sphere, the Torricelli Law established two fundamental sanctions:

  1. Prohibit the trade of subsidiaries of United States companies established in third countries with Cuba;
  2. Prohibit ships entering Cuban ports, for commercial purposes, from touching United Statesports or their possessions during the 180 days following the date of having left the Cuban port.

Legal origin of the Law

The Act for Democracy in Cuba , emanated from a North American state organ: the Congress of the United States, therefore, by trying to regulate the political life of another sovereign State, it is flawed with an absolute nullity. It is as if the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba sanctioned a regulation to govern in Miami or in the state of Florida or in any other North American city or state [3] .

“Without the slightest modesty, the norm values ​​a foreign government, qualifies its internal acts to the detriment of the principle that constitutes the cornerstone of contemporary international law, that of sovereignty, without which the existence of the international community is inconceivable, since the regulator of said community, international law is, by its very nature, a right of coordination and not of subordination ”

José Peraza Chappeaux . [4]

Political context in which the Law is adopted

The political context in which the law is discussed and passed is an example of the paradigm of North American democracy. [5]

The Foundation, through Congressman Steven Solarz , meet with Clinton in Tampa, a meeting of about 30 minutes, and there they sell him the idea that the blockade in relation to Cuba must be intensified. Clinton at the time says that he would think about the idea, that whatever he does he will coordinate with Dante Fascell , who was another representative who received a lot of money from the Foundation, and weeks later, on April 23, at a meeting in Miami , in a Well-known restaurant, Clinton said the following:

“I have read the Torricelli and Graham Act – who was also the sponsor – and I like it. The Bush administration has lost a great opportunity to hammer Castro and Cuba.”

William clinton

Clinton leaves Miami with $ 275,000 in his pockets. And it is not only a problem of quantity, which at that time was an appreciable quantity, but also of opportunity. That was a time when he had serious financial problems in the campaign and needed to raise the collection in any way. After this, Mas Canosa said:

“If Clinton is elected I don’t think we have anything to fear”

Jorge Mas Canosa

Then the law is signed, precisely in Miami, on the 23rd, in an act that is organized there; They oblige Bush, who in an election year is not going to let that issue be stolen from him and, opportunistically, he joins this, the law is approved, and he even goes to Miami to be signed and sets up the electoral show. From that moment on, there is a preponderant presence of all this mafia of control of the debate that in relation to Cuba will take place in the future.

Sanction to Torricelli Law

The project (s) were presented at the first session of the 102nd US Congress, by the representative for the state of New Jersey, Robert Torricelli , and by the senator for the state of Florida, Bob Graham .

The first version differs from the one finally approved. In some cases the variety is purely semantic, in others it is fundamental; and in this last situation, the dissimilarity lies already in the concealment of intentions that were very exposed, and in the sanction of new provisions that are no less harsh but less rudely political in their formulation.

In order to disclose the true history of its sanction for a better understanding of the political intent of the Law, it will be shown where possible, what the project was and what it was.


The Torricelli law, passed [6] in the North American Congress, was promulgated by former President George Bush on October 23 , 1992 , in the middle of the electoral campaign, with the purpose, among others, of winning over the Florida electorate.

Then-candidate Bill Clinton was not far behind. He said he was “proud” to have passed the legislation.

“It is an important day in the cause of democracy in Cuba”

Bill clinton

The respective project had an introduction that explained it:

“To promote a peaceful transition to Democracy in Cuba” by “applying appropriate pressure to the government of Cuba and supporting the Cuban people.”

In 1993 the imperial euphoria had passed, although the Torricelli-Graham Act was working with all the force that gave it both Democratic and Republican support.

Torricelli himself says it shamelessly in paragraph 6 of section 2 of his bill:

“The collapse of communism in the former USSR and Eastern Europe , the now universal recognition in Latin America and the Caribbean that Cuba constitutes a failed model of government and development, and the evident inability of the Cuban economy to survive current trends , “provide the United States and the democratic community with an unprecedented opportunity to promote a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba”

Legislative Characteristics of the Law

This Law was approved [7] within another more extensive and far-reaching law: the National Defense and Authorization Law for fiscal year 1992 , or as it was definitely called: National Defense Authorization Law for fiscal year 1993 .

Section 1701

Cuban Democracy Law 1992 [8]

The original text read: ” 1991 Law on Democracy in Cuba .” As you can see, there is no other difference than the syntactic. Democracy in Cuba. Another aspect worth noting that is found in every statement, from the President of the United States to the government officials who carry out the foreign policy of that country and that, on the other hand, is reproduced today in the Helms-Burton Act , is the reference to democracy.

It should be noted in this regard, that for the United States democracy and capitalism go hand in hand, which means that the political form of democracy is equivalent to the capitalist economic system.

Section 1702

Determinations [9]

All these determinations try to demonstrate the lack of democracy or the lack of respect for human rights in Cuba, as a pretext to intervene unilaterally.

In the original text, dissident activities were mentioned, which they call “independent and democratic activities” directly involving themselves with the so-called Cuban dissidence that they support through this Law.

Regarding the evasions that the Law speaks of, it is a Cuban emigration that until 1994 was absolutely privileged since the immigrant from the island was offered work, documents to reside and become a citizen in the United States, apart from receive them as heroes for having defected.

Cuba has prevented the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur from entering its territory because he is a representative of the political interests of the United States, but has given the most complete information to other United Nations representatives who arrived in that country. for very clear objective information purposes and to international organizations.

On the other hand, the United States can hardly claim non-compliance with United Nations resolutions since that country has violated all of them, including the OAS charter itself, and what is worse, the consecutive resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations against the blockade of Cuba. Millions of Cubans are suffering various difficulties due to the blockade. This Law violates international law because it violates Cuban sovereignty and the right of Cubans to adopt the political form that best suits them.

Section 1703

Political Declaration [10]

In this section, each of the actions to be undertaken until the Cuban government is overthrown are developed step by step.

In its first step, the Torricelli Law makes the distinction between the Cuban State and the Cuban people, a legally impossible dissociation

The second step towards the search for the international blockade is reflected, trying to involve other countries, fundamentally, their European allies from the First World and those who were part of the socialist camp. Of course, all this is beyond the control of the United Nations and against what is established in International Public Law , since to reach that instance a decision of the Security Council of that body is needed.

In the third step. The US threatens sanctions or retaliation against those who do not cooperate with its policy.

The fourth step expressly designates the states that formed the USSR, which would be the first to become the object of its political and economic pressure.

His fifth step reiterates as a political tool, intervening in the internal affairs of Cuba.

The sixth step means maintaining the blockade against Cuba despite the United Nations Charter and the current Pacts, Treaties and Resolutions in the field of international law.

The seventh step would be to gradually reduce sanctions in response to “positive developments in Cuba.”

Regarding the eighth step, none of its partners has so far accepted the impositions of the Blockade and they show a growing investment interest in Cuba.

The ninth, tenth and eleventh steps were not in the project. These reflect interventionism and interference.

Section 1704

International cooperation [11]

The wording leaves no doubt that the President of the United States must comply with an order of Congress through the Law, such is the imperative of the verb duty before the start of the project.

This provision is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations, GATT 1947 and GATT 1994, and the World Trade Organization of the same date.

On the other hand, it is intended to grant extraterritorial scope to an internal US law.

After all the threats and prohibitions come the sanctions for those States that do not abide by the extraterritoriality of the Torricelli Law in terms of “cooperation”, as expressed.

They are also expressions with a clear blackmailing intention, because if the intimidated country does not accept US law expressly or tacitly, it will not obtain certain benefits from the US.

Interference in the internal affairs of third countries is explicitly condemned in international law .

On the other hand, the Law carefully defines what should be understood as assistance, so that nothing can escape its control.

Section 1705

Support for the Cuban people [12]

This section applies notwithstanding any other previous law or transaction, which implies an extreme inflexibility that is also directed when it refers to the donations of food or the sale of medical equipment in which the purpose is that it ultimately favors the blockade.

Section 1706

Sanctions [13]

The country that provides a type of assistance not admitted by the US according to the provisions transcribed, will be subject to the sanctions established in this section.

Extraterritoriality of the Law

The direct consequence of the Mack Amendment is the strengthening of the extraterritorial nature of the blockade , this strengthening was present from the first measures that were applied as part of the blockade since the beginning of the sixties. So much so that the ban on this subsidiary trade with Cuba was first established as early as July 8 , 1963 .

On that date, the prohibition that any company from a third country, a subsidiary of a North American parent company, could establish any type of economic-commercial operation with Cuba was established .

This prohibition remains in force until 1975 when, as a result of pressure and claims from other countries interested in trading with Cuba, interested in accessing the Cuban market, the US administration, through an executive order, decides to modify the existing regulations and approves the issuance of specific licenses, case by case, to allow certain operations from third countries by subsidiaries with Cuba.

This modification did not imply, in any way, that the possibility of establishing a fluid trade by these subsidiary firms with Cuba was fully opened. Actually the restrictions that were imposed on this trade were such that they hindered and considerably limited its possibilities. These restrictions included the prohibition of financing operations by North American entities or companies; prohibition of Cuba to carry out transactions in dollars; prohibition to include, in these operations, materials considered by the United States as strategic, or products that contain more than 20% of North American components, just to name the most important.

Actually, the restrictions were significant, and the incidence of these restrictions was such that the executive decision was adopted in August 1975 and it was not until 1981 -that is, six years later- that the process of issuing licenses.

This process began in that year, and, actually, it had an upward trend, which is nothing more than a reflection of the interest that existed by third countries to access the Cuban market.

Three important elements of the Mack Amendment in force in the Torricelli Law are, firstly, the violation of the national sovereignty of other States, because these subsidiary firms, although they have a link with their parent companies, are national firms of those countries and are subject to the laws of those countries.

Second, a flagrant violation of international law that prohibits the application of extraterritorial measures.

Third, a violation of the United States’ Foreign Relations Act itself , according to which no state can regulate the activities of corporations organized under the laws of other states.


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