CUBA’S REPORT TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Campaign News | Monday, 15 July 2002
RESOLUTION NUMBER 56/9
CUBA’S REPORT TO THE
U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL ON
"Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."
Havana, 15 July 2002
1.- ESTABLISHMENT, CONSOLIDATION AND STRENGTHENING OF THE U.S. BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA 2
2. THE EXTRATERRITORIAL NATURE OF THE POLICY OF BLOCKADE. 9
3. DAMAGES IN THE FIELDS OF HEALTHCARE, FOOD AND EDUCATION 12
3.1. HEALTHCARE 12
3.2 FOOD 16
3.3 EDUCATION 19
4. DAMAGES TO EXPORTS AND SERVICES 21
5. SECTION 211 OF THE 1999 OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS ACT. 25
6. DAMAGE TO OTHER SECTORS OF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY. 26
The Cuban people continues to be victimized by the genocidal blockade imposed by the Government of the United States of America in an effort to break the Cuban resolve to exercise self-determination and its willingness to preserve its independence, social justice and equality. For over 42 years, successive US Administrations have not hesitated in their attempt to cause hunger and disease among the Cuban people, as a means to try and defeat the Cuban spirit of resistance to US aggression and annexation.
The policy of blockade has inflicted and continues to inflict serious and onerous damages on the Cuban people's material, psychological and spiritual welfare, while hindering its economic and social development. The US blockade has forced consecutive generations of Cubans to live under a climate of permanent hostility and tension. Six in every ten Cubans have been born and have lived under the conditions imposed by this policy.
The U.S. economic war against Cuba has no legal basis whatsoever and, in conformity with Item C of Article II of the Geneva Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of 9 December 1948, it is considered an act of genocide and therefore a crime under International Law.
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the most powerful country in the history of humankind is not only still in place, but it has also been strengthened by a decision of the present Bush Administration, which has made the anti-Cuba rhetoric and its strong commitment with the Miami-based, extremist groups, the cornerstone of its policy towards Cuba, seeking electoral gains for the President himself and his family.
In a recent statement made at the White House last 20 May 2002, on the occasion of commemorating the 100th anniversary of the U.S.-imposed neo-colonial regime on Cuba, President Bush openly said, "the United States will continue to enforce the economic sanctions against Cuba."
If anyone still harbored any doubts about the continuity in the implementation and the reinforcement of the U.S. policy of blockade against the Cuban people, President Bush's remarks, which he repeated in Miami that same day, provide the clearest possible answer.
It is in light of these circumstances that the 57th Session of the U.N. General Assembly shall once again consider this item of its agenda, after 10 years of the first resolution adopted by body demanding that the U.S. Government puts an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Cuban people. In this regard, it would be appropriate to ask ourselves:
How was it possible to devise throughout these years such a meticulous and infernal system to prevent a whole people from having access to staple food and medicines produced in the world's main market, also bearing in mind that some of them are unique and cannot be supplied at any price by any other suppliers?
How could it be allowed that a people continues to be denied access to technologies and spare parts, to critical medical equipment and scientific literature essential for the full realization of the human right to healthcare?
How could anyone justify these practices, not only under universal standards of human rights and International Humanitarian Law, but also in light of the principles of economic and trade liberalization promoted by industrialized countries, including the United States, in the context of the ongoing process of globalization?
Throughout the present Report, an attempt will be made to answer these questions and the General Assembly should derive its own conclusions from the information provided herein.
1.- ESTABLISHMENT, CONSOLIDATION AND STRENGTHENING OF THE U.S. BLOCKADE AGAINST CUBA
The last 200 years have presented Cuba with formidable challenges, particularly arising from the dangers historically represented by the attempts of annexation and domination of Cuba by the most conservative power sectors in the United States. A quick glance at history would suffice to find enough evidence of the true intentions guiding the U.S. policy towards this small Caribbean island. The United States has spared no resources in its hegemonic plans, particularly after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
The policy of implementing economic sanctions has been a fundamental element of U.S. hostility against Cuba. The decision to cause hunger, disease and desperation to the Cuban people as tools to reach their goals of political domination has not only been maintained, but it has also been reinforced in the last 40 years.
Cuba has been subjected to a brutal policy of hostility and aggression of all kinds by the superpower, whose strategic purpose has been none other than the annihilation of the Cuban Revolution and the destruction of the political, economic and social system established, sustained and permanently perfected by the free will of its people.
In order to accomplish their purpose, successive U.S. Administrations since 1959 have resorted to all kinds of political pressure; attempts at diplomatic isolation; propaganda war; encouragement of defections and illegal emigration; espionage; economic warfare and aggressions of all sorts, including subversion, terrorism and acts of sabotage, biological warfare, fomenting armed bands, criminal infiltration and raids against the Cuban territory, military harassment, threats of nuclear extermination and even direct aggression using a mercenary army.
Not a single economic or social activity has been exempted from the destructive and destabilizing action resulting from the aggressive U.S. policy. Conservative figures show that the sum of the damages sustained by Cuba as a consequence of the implementation of this genocidal policy already exceeds U.S. $70 billion. These figure does not include over U.S. $54 billion reported as direct damages caused to Cuban economic and social objectives in the last four decades by acts of sabotage and terrorism carried out by agents at the service of the United States, tolerated by that country or organized and financed in its territory.
As it has been denounced in previous reports, in 1992 the difficulties faced by the Cuban economy worsened as a result of the rupture of ties with its former trading partners from the demised Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. It is in the midst of these circumstances that the so-called Torricelli Act is adopted with the purpose of totally isolating Cuba from the international environment and causing its economy to collapse. The provisions contained in that piece of legislation, of a profound extraterritorial nature, constitute a flagrant violation of the international norms governing freedom of trade and navigation, and reflect U.S. scorn and disrespect for the sovereignty of third States.
In 1996, not yet satisfied for not having accomplished the collapse of the Cuban political and economic system with the passing of the Torricelli Act, the U.S. Government further escalated its hostile and aggressive actions against the Cuban people. The Helms-Burton Act is enacted that year, incorporating the key programs and policies that the U.S. far right and the Cuban-American terrorist mafia had been advocating against the Cuban people and its emancipation project.
The Helms-Burton Act, interventionist in nature and in its letter, intends to dictate in its Titles I and II the political, economic and social ordering of a sovereign neighboring State, Cuba, while promoting subversion as a means to achieve its goals. Titles III and IV attempt to internationalize the U.S. blockade imposing rules and regulations on the international community as to how to conduct its economic relations with the Cuban nation and requiring sanctions against citizens of other States for doing business with Cuba.
These laws and regulations that affect our country, and in addition extend their scope against the international community at large, have been complemented with further provisions and measures aimed at making the blockade more stringent. Among the more recent actions, attention must be drawn to the implementation of new control and monitoring mechanisms for its more effective enforcement.
The coming to power of President George W. Bush's Administration has meant an increase of the anti-Cuba rhetoric and a greater commitment with the Cuban-American National Foundation and other extremist organizations in Florida, whose terrorist and annexation acts are well known. This has brought about a toughening of the U.S. policy of blockade against the Cuban people.
The current U.S. Administration has committed itself to the most rigorous enforcement of the blockade regulations, in particular of the Helms-Burton Act, both in its economic and political aspects. The economic sanctions and restrictions have been accompanied by new initiatives for the promotion, organization and financing of internal subversion in Cuba making use of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana, of the resources of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other official funding, and of resources provided by the Administration to organizations which, as Freedom House, promote subversion and intervention in the territory of the Republic of Cuba. This year, the Government of President W. Bush has even publicly announced the granting of federal funds to finance projects of internal subversion in Cuba, making available millions of dollars for every project submitted.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the anti-Cuba actions of President W. Bush's administration has been the issue of travel restrictions, through the reinforcement of sanctions and threats against U.S. citizens wishing to travel to Cuba. These actions have increased in the last 18 months, when the U.S. Government has taken to court and imposed civil penalties on a growing number of U.S. citizens. Suffice it to say that if in a four-month period -- from 3 January to 3 May 2001 -- the Department of the Treasury sent 74 letters to U.S. citizens who visited Cuba without a license, imposing on average $7,500 civil penalties, while in the following three months -- from 4 May to 31 July 2001 -- that Department sent 443 such letters.
The case of Mr. Cevin Allen, a U.S. citizen who has been a victim of the sanctions imposed by the U.S. Government for traveling to Cuba, constitutes a single example. Last year, the aforementioned citizen appeared in a U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to make his case known. Due to the unheard of and inhumane circumstances associated with this case, several of its details are presented below:
Resident in Sammamish, Washington, Mr. Allen lived in Cuba between 1948 and 1955 with his parents, who were missionaries of the Pentecostal Church. They maintained close connections with the Island after returning to the United States. In 1987, an unfortunate house fire killed both his parents. Back then, Mr. Allen promised himself to take their ashes to Cuba, the place they had always loved. He could only fulfill his promise after 10 years. Upon his return, Mr. Allen and his partner were imposed a $7,500 civil penalty each, which was reduced to $700 after an intense legal battle.
President George W. Bush, as part of his drive to escalate his anti-Cuban activity, has appointed and promoted officials of Cuban descent, some of them even having terrorist backgrounds, to key posts in his Cabinet or in the State Department. These officials are active members of or are closely related to the Cuban-American National Foundation and to other far right, Florida-based organizations, whose terrorist nature has been sufficiently denounced and demonstrated.
In the last few years, the U.S. Government has intended to mislead the international public opinion with an alleged ease of the blockade regulations allowing, as claimed, the sales of food and medicines to Cuba. However, as we have indicated in previous Reports to the Secretary General, the restrictions imposed on such Cuban purchases, and the conditions attached thereto, have prevented and continue to prevent them, in site of a Cuban willingness to carry out those purchases and the interest by US producers to sell their products.
Late last year, in the aftermath of the most devastating hurricane that has ever hit Cuba, in a gesture described as kind by the Cuban authorities, the U.S. Administration did not raise objections to the sale of certain amounts of food to our country, purchased to replenish the reserves used to respond to the needs of the victims of Hurricane Michelle.
This isolated event triggered the false expectation in several quarters -- including the U.S. business sector -- that a favorable path to a less confrontational US policy towards Cuba had been taken. However, the fact is that those purchases had to be made under strict Department of Treasury license-issuing procedures, in cash and without any financing facilities whatsoever, private or otherwise; while at the same time, the transportation of those products could only be done aboard U.S. or third country vessels, excepting Cuba. So, even then, the countless restrictions imposed by the blockade were kept. Likewise, last April, the US Government unilaterally cancelled the visas of Cuban businessmen negotiating new purchases with U.S. companies that had made sales to Cuba in recent months and with other interested firms.
It is also worth recalling the complex procedures that have governed and still govern these sales. On the one hand, the products that U.S. companies will export to Cuba must comply with export regulations, there should be a written contract and the shipments must be made within one year after the signing of the contract. Likewise, U.S. exporters must previously send a notification, by submitting a form in paper or in its electronic version containing the information required by the Department of Commerce, in particular by its Bureau of Export Administration (BXA). This office will refer the notification to other U.S. Government agencies, such as the Department of Defense, the Department of State, presumably the National Security Council, and in some cases to other entities, which will ultimately decide -- based on political considerations -- whether or not the sales are authorized, a procedure that is totally alien to the norms that should govern trade among nations.
It is absolutely impossible to rationally conduct business between two sovereign States without the existence of a normal regime of relations among enterprises that allows negotiation, a regular financial flow, air and maritime transportation, the benefit of customary formulas supporting foreign trade and the critical access to credits.
Even further, and to dispel the slightest doubt, officials both from the State Department and President Bush himself immediately made clear that regardless of such sales, the blockade will continue to be in effect, without any changes and that, on the contrary, a review of the US policy towards Cuba would be conducted, with the already-stated objective of reinforcing the standing measures of economic coercion and sanctions.
In violation of the most basic principles of freedom of trade, even though the Sanctions Policy Reform Act, enacted in October 2000, allows -- under certain conditions -- sales of food and medicines to our country, it also adds significant restrictions to those already included in previous laws. This law requires the Department of Commerce to monitor the export of agricultural and health products through the issuance of licenses, which are under Department of the Treasury’s control, particularly its Office for Foreign Assets Control. The products that are authorized for export to Cuba shall comply with certain control and classification requirements, under "national security" provisions.
In the course of this procedure, and in compliance with Section 906 of the law in question, exports of agricultural products to any Cuban entity can be rejected citing national security reasons. As to the payment currency, the regulations do not define the authorization for Cuban entities to use U.S. dollar in their purchases. Transactions are conducted through banks located in third countries and using other currencies, mainly euros, with the resulting costs associated with currency exchange operations.
With regard to healthcare products, the provisions embodied in the Torricelli Act are still being enforced. Exporters need a specific license, issued on a case-by-case basis, valid for 24 months. The granting of the licenses is conditioned to the fact that the U.S. Government is able to monitor and supervise through in situ inspections or other means, the end user of the product.
On the other hand, only in the course of this year, 25 legislative initiatives against Cuba have been introduced in the US Congress, which, if adopted, will continue to further strengthen -- if that were possible -- the blockade against our country.
However, parallel to this irrational behaviour, there are several legislative initiatives in favour of lifting the unilateral economic sanctions, which are the result of, among other things, increased efforts by representatives of the agricultural sector to find new markets for their products. There is an ever-growing number of U.S. social and economic sectors demanding the lifting of the U.S. blockade, which not only affects the Cuban people, but also the interests of the U.S. business sectors and people.
On March 21st last, the Bipartisan Cuba Working Group was officially established in the House of Representatives, the first of its kind in the U.S. Congress in over four decades. The Cuba Working Group has been lobbying for the elimination of restrictions to the private financing of agricultural sales to our country, for freedom to travel and for the repeal of Section 211 of the 1999 Omnibus Appropriations Act that has allowed the usurpation of Cuban trademarks, in open violation of intellectual property laws.
More voices are joining every day to reject the policy of blockade towards Cuba. The U.S. media, the churches, the business sector, and the common citizen himself question why a country, a neighbour, which does not pose a threat to the Unites States, is treated like an enemy.
The continued implementation of this aggressive policy of blockade by the U.S. Government, only shows its arrogance and disrespect for the values shared by the community of nations, and constitutes a clear challenge and a true scorn for the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and International Law.
2. THE EXTRATERRITORIAL NATURE OF THE POLICY OF BLOCKADE.
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America on the Republic of Cuba, since its coming into effect in 1960, has had an extraterritorial nature violating standing principles of International Law, and particularly, trampling on the sovereign right of nations to carry out their economic, commercial and financial relations free from interference. The United States took upon itself the right to legislate by and for other countries in their relations with Cuba, claiming its capacity to certify the conduct and actions of other States.
At the base of this extraterritorial policy pursued by the mightiest power on this planet lies its "selective and discriminatory interpretation" of the concept of sovereignty of States, principle universally defined and accepted since the Westfalia Congress in 1648 as the power of a State to decide on its domestic and external affairs, while leading at the same time to respect for the sovereignty of other States.
The selective approach and double standard characterizing U.S. positions with regards to its respect for the sovereignty of other States is openly manifested in the enforcement of its unilateral policy of blockade on Cuba.
The worst in all this is that the extraterritorial implementation of the policy of blockade against Cuba is not an isolated event; rather it would seem a common option in the U.S. imperialist strategy of hegemonic rule.
At the beginning of the 1990s, attempts were made at fabricating an argumentative framework that would support the extraterritorial enforcement of the blockade. The passing of the so-called Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, known as the Torricelli Act, marked a first qualitatively important step in that direction, followed in 1996 by the Helms-Burton Act, which would take to a higher level the extraterritoriality contained in its enforcement provisions.
The Torricelli Act provides for prohibitions and sanctions applicable to foreign subsidiaries or firms affiliated to U.S. companies, even when they are based and organized in third States and thus operating under their laws and jurisdiction.
It is known that Cuba used to purchase vital products, such as medicines and food from subsidiaries of U.S. companies, thus providing some relief vis-a-vis the impact of the policy of blockade.
Back then, a total of 107 head offices of U.S. companies, while gaining access to the Cuban market, were interested in keeping a certain level of trade exchange with Cuba. In 1991, the trade volume equaled $718 million, with food and medicines representing up 90.6% of sales. The Torricelli Act effectively cut the Cuban people's access to these products.
Such law specified prohibitions for vessels to call on US ports and the inclusion in a "black list" of those freighters carrying goods to Cuba or on Cuba's behalf, thus violating basic norms of freedom of trade and navigation enshrined in International Law and U.N. international agreements.
The so-called Helms-Burton Act, passed in 1996, institutionalized and codified a number of provisions previously existing as separate laws, decrees, presidential orders and regulations enacted through decades.
The aforementioned law, which grants the U.S. Government the right to decide on the political future of the Cuban people by setting down the conditions for the legitimacy of a "transition government" and the requirements that a "democratically-elected government" must comply with, reserves for the U.S. President powers that are of the exclusive competence of the Cuban people. Simply put, the United States took upon itself the right to officially and publicly decide on issues that should be exclusive attributes of Cuban sovereignty. In fact, the passing of that law has intended to turn back the wheels of history to the times when the United States imposed the so-called "Platt Amendment" as a condition to recognize the tutored independence of the Cuban people in 1902.
That law establishes sanctions such as the denial of entry visas to the United States for third-country businesspersons doing business with Cuba and their relatives. It also provides for the right of persons, who were Cuban citizens on 1st January 1959, to file suits in US courts against third-country entrepreneurs doing business with Cuba using nationalized properties, which the law terms as "trafficking" in such properties.
The extraterritorial effects of the blockade can be felt in every field of international cooperation, including the United Nations and its specialized agencies. There are sufficient examples to prove it. Following are some of them:
Dr. Miguel Enriquez Medical School, located in Havana, is conducting an investment project with financing by the Georg August de Goettinggen University's, from funds, for the establishment of the Central Cephalo-Rachidian Liquid Lab (LABCEL, acronym in Spanish) to undertake tests of this liquid using breakthrough technologies, which will redound to the benefit of the Cuban people. The functions of this lab will be the provision of medical services, R&D and teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses both for Cuban and foreign specialists.
Last February 2001, Beckmann-Coulter's US-based headquarters banned its European subsidiary from sending a next generation IMMAGE laser analyzer to Cuba's LABCEL Project, citing the Helms-Burton Act. Beckmann-Coulter's Headquarters even threatened its European branch to remove its export license, if that equipment was sent to Cuba. Hence, Cuba has been prevented from using this equipment that is the cornerstone of this project, delaying in over one year the operational start of the lab.
In its 2001 Report, Cuba denounced how within the framework of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), it was denied its right to participate in that organization's Global Project WISEWORLD 2000, offering developing countries the possibility of receiving a software for the issuance of digital certificates, as well as commercial-use cryptographic techniques.
This year, U.S. Permanent Mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delivered a letter addressed to Dr. Mohammed El Baradei, Director General of IAEA, dated 10 May 2002, expressing the US Government's request that US funds provided to that Agency were not used in IAEA's cooperation projects with Cuba by virtue of U.S. Foreign Assistance Act's Section 307. This action is in violation of IAEA's statutes.
Cuba will continue to denounce the extraterritorial nature of the U.S. policy and demand the strict observance of International Law, particularly, the right to peoples to their self-determination and the sovereignty of States.
3. DAMAGES IN THE FIELDS OF HEALTHCARE, FOOD AND EDUCATION
Since the start of the enforcement of the blockade against Cuba, in early the 1960s, the Cuban people's healthcare and education systems and its realization of the right to food have been targets of choice of US aggressions. The actions aimed at creating conditions to cause hunger and disease in order to undermine the Cuban people's support of the Revolution have consistently been part and parcel of the concrete plans and programs to wage a dirty war against Cuba.
The blockade and the hostile policy of successive U.S. administrations have caused serious damages to the Cuban National Healthcare Program, hindering the purchase of technologies, medicines, raw materials, reagents, diagnostic kits, equipment and spare parts, as well as medication to treat serious, traumatizing, and distressing diseases, such as cancer, among others.
The consequences of this shortage in many cases have been dramatic, not only due to the human suffering of patients and their families, but also because the medical personnel has been unable to save a life or relieve a pain.
Cuba has denounced once and again the damages caused by the U.S. blockade to the Cuban healthcare system. We will continue to denounce it as long as this genocidal policy shall continue. As part of this Report, reference will be made to several cases illustrating the already mentioned consequences. However, it would be convenient to draw attention to one of these examples, which would suffice in and on itself to demonstrate our claims:
The Attorney General's Office, under the U.S. Department of Justice, found Canadian citizen James Sabzali guilty, as well as U.S. citizens Donald E. Brodie and Stefan E. Brodie, executives of Purolite Company for "violating the blockade against Cuba." After a five-year investigation on their business deals with Cuba, Mr. Sabzali could face up to 205 years in jail.
Has by chance Mr. Sabzali sold Cuba any product that is considered a US strategic secret? Nothing further from the truth. Although it might seem incredible, the crime for which the aforementioned executives have been charged is none other than selling water purification chemicals to Cuba, used to treat drinking water supplied to the people.
Another example worth mentioning, based on its negative impact on the Cuban people's health, is the following:
U.S. company Rashkind manufactures a catheter called balloon catheter used in the treatment of infants with heart defects, an extremely complex pediatric procedure. Since Cuba is unable to purchase it in the United States, it has to import it from Canada, causing its US$110 unit price to climb to US$185, excluding transportation costs.
There is a great number of drugs directly related to the survival of patients, such as antibiotics, antimycotic drugs and immunoregulators, manufactured by U.S. companies, that are unavailable for use in our therapies, as they cannot be officially imported from the United States, nor bought in third countries.
Cuba cannot purchase US-controlled state-of-the-art technologies such as the Continual Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis for the Chronic Kidney Patient Care Program, last-generation immunodepressors as FK506, Mycophenolate Mofetil and dialysis machines with synthetic membranes, among many others.
Several companies such as Baxter, Healthcare, Drake Willock, Vitalmex Interamericana S.A. sell their products in nearby technologically advanced markets. However, they are forbidden to sell equipment, disposable materials and accessories to Cuba. If refurbished dialysis machines and other equipment for tertiary care could be purchased in the United States, it would save Cuba between 66 to 75%off the cost of a new machine.
U.S. company One-Lambda manufactures what Cuban physicians consider the most useful kit for HLA (Histocompatibility Lymphocyte Antigen) typing, critical to determine the compatibility of a kidney transplant candidate with a prospective donor. Cuba cannot buy these kits that allow the testing of 70 specialties and only require between 2 and 3 ml of the patient's blood.
On April 2001, Roche's Vitamin Division notified that the US Government did not authorize them to send directly or indirectly to Cuba any US-made product. Roche only manufactures vitamin A (acetate) in the United States, so the contract was cancelled. Something similar occurred with Anaquim, a supplier of glue for the labels of blood derivative flasks. This firm also cancelled its contract with Cuba.
The obstacles in this field have become a serious threat to the Cuban people's health, creating difficulties in our struggle against hepatitis, diseases of the gastrointestinal duct and dengue. Since August 2001, the Cuban government has been seeking offers of pesticides to combat the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, but given the fact that the manufacturing plant is located in U.S. territory, Cuba has been denied its right to purchase it.
This is not a new reality. Back in 1981, in the midst of a dengue epidemic introduced in Cuba by an agent at the service of terrorist groups still acting against Cuba from the territory of the United States, the U.S. administration also denied the Cuban government's purchase of inputs and equipment to fight this dangerous disease. Suffice it to remember that this epidemic caused a death toll of 151 persons, including 101 children.
Innumerable have been the damages to the development of our human resources in the field of healthcare, due to the restrictions and prohibitions to scientific exchanges and the obstacles to obtain funding for research programs and