Cuban FM's statement to the the UN on the effects of the blockade

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Watch Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla speak against the blockade at the UN (link below)


Mr. President;

On November 13, 1991, the General Assembly adopted the decision to include in the agenda of its next session the discussion of the item entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

Those were the times when the United States was resolved, with cruel opportunism, to tighten the siege around the Island that was struggling on its own through the so called Torricelli Act, which cut off our trade in medicines and foodstuffs with the subsidiaries of US companies based in third countries. That was the official action that led to the notorious extraterritorial implementation of the blockade laws against third States.

Back them, it might have seemed impossible that, twenty years later, this Assembly would be discussing today that same item, which is so closely linked to the right of peoples to self-determination, the International Law, the rules of international trade and the reasons why this Organization exists.

This has already become one of the items that is traditionally discussed by the General Assembly, which raises the most reiterated statements and receives the most absolute and overwhelming support, showing with ever greater clarity the uncomfortable isolation of the aggressor country and the heroic resistance of a people that refuse to give up on its sovereign rights.

For two decades the international community has invariably and consistently called for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba. It has done so by means of the resolutions that each year are adopted almost unanimously, the tens of appeals by Heads of State and delegations that have referred to the item during the High Level General Debate of this Assembly and the statements made by virtually all international agencies and groups of States, particularly of Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 1996, the Helms Burton Act expanded the unprecedented extraterritorial scope of the blockade and comprehensively typified the "change of regime" and eventual intervention in Cuba. Nobody knows whether the "Bush Plan for Cuba" of 2004 has been abrogated.

The Secretary-General' s report on this item, which includes the statements made by more than 160 countries and specialized agencies of the UN system, illustrates with abundant data the prevalence of this cruel policy and its direct effects on the Cuban people and economy.

The direct economic damage caused to the Cuban people as a result of the implementation of the blockade exceeds the figure of 975 billion dollars, estimated at the depreciated US dollar value in comparison with the gold standard.

Articles 2(b) and 2(c) of the Convention on Genocide of 1948 define "serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group" and "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part" as acts of genocide.

According to the US Government memorandum of April 6, 1960, the objectives pursued by the blockade have been to cause "?disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardshi [?] weaken the economic life of Cuba [?] denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government."

The United States has never hidden the fact that the objective it pursues is to overthrow the Revolutionary government and destroy the constitutional order that the Cuban people sovereignly defends. That is what former President George Bush called "a change of regime", which has currently acquired new dimensions.

Mr. President;

Despite the false image of flexibility that the current US administration intends to portray, the blockade and the sanctions remain intact, they are fully implemented and their extraterritorial character has been intensified in recent years. The increased persecution of Cuban financial transactions across the world, with complete disregard for third countries laws and their government's opposition, has been the distinctive feature of the Obama administration.

Cuba is still unable to freely export or import products and services of any sort to and from the United States. Cuba can not use American dollars in its transactions, not even to pay its contributions to the United Nations and other international agencies. Neither can Cuba keep accounts in that currency in third countries' banks or have access to credits from US banks or any of their subsidiaries in third countries or from international institutions such as the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank.

The ban on trade with American companies subsidiaries based in third countries remains unchanged. Entrepreneurs from other countries interested in investing in my country continue to be sanctioned, threatened or blacklisted.

International organizations as well as agencies and programs of the UN system are not spared by this policy. The US government hinders the cooperation that these entities offer to Cuba, including the one destined to extremely sensitive areas.

The confiscation in January, 2011, of 4 million 207 thousand dollars financing from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria destined to the implementation of cooperation projects with Cuba, whose aim was combating the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

(AIDS) and tuberculosis, is an evidence of that.

As a result of Cuba's denunciation, the US Treasury Department issued a general license on May this year to release the aforementioned funds. That license will expire on June 30, 2015. But the very fact that the resources allocated by this organization require a US government license to reach Cuba also reveals the intention of using these sensitive programs as hostages of its aggressive policy against my country, which is an openly disrespectful behavior towards the United Nations and its different agencies.

Several cooperation projects implemented by the International Atomic Energy Agency have also been victims of the blockade.

In the midst of an alleged relaxation that would allow some US citizens groups to travel to Cuba, the US Treasury Department recently denied traveling licenses to two important US non-governmental organizations which for years have been cooperating with Cuban institutions in the area of health. That decision could prevent that the donations of medicines which forbidden to our country because of the blockade could reach its destination.

The truth is that the US citizens' freedom of travel continues to be hampered and Cuba continues to be the only destination forbidden to US citizens.

Mr. President;

On several occasions the US representatives have pointed out that the item that we are discussing here today is a bilateral issue, and therefore should not be discussed at this forum. They are likely to reiterate the same deceitful argument here today.

Facts show its inconsistency. Citizens and companies from numerous member States represented here have been subject to sanctions for establishing economic relations with Cuba.

What do the fines imposed on August 18, 2011, to the subsidiary of the French shipping and transportation company CMA CGM for offering container services to Cuba represent, if not the extraterritorial character of that policy? How could we describe the demands imposed by the European subsidiary company PayPal, which facilitates electronic transactions through the Internet, on the German firm Rum Co so that the latter deletes Cuban rum and tobacco from its web page?

The examples of the extraterritorial implementation of this policy, as can be observed in Cuba's response, contained in the Secretary-General' s report, are endless.

Mr. President;

The most recent statements made by President Obama about Cuba have left quite a few observers astonished, but they are no surprise to us. The response given by President Obama to the offer made by the Cuban government to have a dialogue on all the topics of interest of the bilateral agenda has been, once again, a non-committal refusal, based on absurd arguments and unacceptable conditionings that have never served any purpose. His position is the same worn-out, repetitive position anchored in the past. It is as if, instead of speaking like the President who was elected to bring about change, his predecessors, including the Republican ones, were speaking for him. He seems as if he were misinformed, totally ignoring what is currently going on in our country, our history and culture.

Cuba experienced a big change in 1959. After paying the price of 20 thousand lives, it swept away the dictatorship run by Batista, considered the US strong man. Cuba has continued to change day after day and it has been able to resist thanks to its capacity for renovation. Others could not resist because they did not change, or because they stagnated or strayed from their course. Now, Cuba is changing and will resolutely change everything that needs to be changed within the Revolution and Socialism: More Revolution and a better Socialism.

Mr. President, the only thing that has not changed during the last 50 years has been the blockade and the hostile and aggressive policy of the United States, despite the fact that said policy has not worked nor it will.

However, what the US government wants to see changed will not change. The Cuban government will continue to be "the government of the people, by the people and for the people". Our elections shall not be auction sales. There shall not be 4 billion dollars electoral campaigns nor a Parliament supported by 13 per cent of voters. We won't have corrupted political elites separate from the people. We shall continue being a true democracy, not a plutocracy. We will continue to defend the right to true and objective information.

We will continue conquering "all the justice". We will continue to promote equal opportunities for every child and we will not abandon anyone to his or her own fate. We will not renounce to our social programs. Health and education will continue to be universal and free of charge. We will continue to guarantee the right to work, decent retirement benefits and social security. There shall continue to be equal pay for equal work. We will continue to protect pregnant women and the disabled. Human beings shall continue to be the first and most important thing. We will continue to defend our culture. We will continue to believe in human values. We will continue to ensure all Cuban citizens the exercise of their human rights.

The economy will have to be efficient but it will continue to be at the service of men and women. People's life is and will continue to be far more important than macroeconomic data. Economic policies will continue to be consulted with the people. The consequences of the global economic crisis will be shared by all. We will continue re-distributing wealth so that we won't have poor people and rich people. We will not permit corruption or speculation, nor will we take money away from the workers to bailout banks. We shall continue to seek the participation of foreign companies in our economy without any exceptions whatsoever.

Mr. President;

It will suffice it to review the recent disclosures made by Wikileaks about the work of the State Department and the US embassies in all countries, aimed at hindering political, diplomatic, economic, commercial and cooperation relations with Cuba. Their content and information are outrageous, for they reveal the US concern and interest on and its persecution of the humanitarian work that is being carried out by the Cuban medical brigades that are offering their noble and selfless services to millions of persons in tens of sister nations.

Family ties and the limited cultural, academic and scientific exchange that exists between the United States and Cuba show how positive would be to expand these links for the benefit of both peoples, without the obstacles and conditions imposed by Washington. Cuba's proposal to move on towards the normalization of relations and expand bilateral cooperation in different areas still stands. The solution of the pending reciprocal humanitarian interests would likewise be within our common interest.

Why doesn't President Obama's administration rather take care of the US problems and leave us Cubans alone to solve ours in peace?

One of the Five Cuban Anti-terrorists has just served his unjust 13 years imprisonment sentence until the very last moment, but he is forbidden to return to his country to reunite with his family, while the other four continue to endure a cruel and unjust incarceration for political motives. The gross corruption of the legal process and the illegal behavior of the government has been broadly known and documented.

Why aren't them released as an act of justice or, at least, as a humanitarian gesture?

Mr. President;

I should now convey the profound gratitude of the people of Cuba to all the countries that, throughout 20 years, have expressed through their voice and their vote the necessity of ending the most unjust, long-lasting and comprehensive unilateral sanctions in history, which have caused so much harm to millions of Cubans.

On behalf of Guillermo Domínguez Díaz (16 years old); Ivis Palacio Terry (18 years old); Randy Barroso Torres (17 years old) and Adrián Izquierdo (12 years old) who have undergone conservative surgeries and have spent months confined to a hospital bed with a cast on for not being allowed to have access to the pediatric extendable tumor endoprostheses which are manufactured in the United States or under its patents; and also on behalf of Maria Amelia Alonso Valdés (2 years old); Damián Hernández Valdés (4 years old) and Dayán Romayena Lorente (12 years old) who suffer from tumors of the Central Nervous System and need to be treated with Temodal, a drug that is manufactured by the United States and is protected by its patent;

On behalf of my self-sacrificing, generous, optimistic and heroic people, and for the good of the community of nations and the "equilibrium of the world", I ask you to support the draft resolution L.4 entitled: "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba".

Thank you, very much.

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