Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba
October 19, 2022
On 19 October the Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez described the hostile blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba for over 60 years as a constant pandemic or hurricane, due to damages it causes to the country.
Rodriguez presented Cuba’s latest report on the impact of the blockade to a press conference in Havana in advance of the UN General Assembly debate and vote which will take place on 2/3 November.
The updated report highlights the last six months of US sanctions on the Cuban economy. Rodríguez recalled that U.S. blockade is not merely the prohibition to buy in the US, but the impossibility of acquiring financial resources to get goods in that market or in other ones.
According to data from the report Cuba will present to UNGA on 2/3 November, that unilateral policy caused losses of over $3.8 billion from August 2021 to February 2022.
Likewise, in the President Joe Biden administration´s first 14 months, damages caused by these provisions reached over $6.3 billion, accounting for a loss of over $454 million monthly and more than $15 million daily.
Rodriguez pointed out that such hostility kept unchanged amid the global economic crisis, Covid-19, and ahead of recent events including the massive deadly fire popped at the Matanzas oil terminal or even the devastation caused by the passage of category 4 Hurricane Ian nationwide.
The Cuban foreign minister claimed that in view of this scenario, the United States should change its policy towards Cuba, stop persecution of its financial transactions, enable Cuba to rebuild itself, eliminate prohibition for U.S. companies to offer contracts to Cuba, or at least relax the blockade, and to apply humanitarian exceptions by using executive powers.
Transcript of the words of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, in the presentation to the national and foreign press, of the update of the national report by virtue of resolution 75/289 of the General Assembly of the United Nations, entitled “Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” (Per period August 2021- February 2022):
I thank each and everyone for their presence.
I don’t know if you’ve already seen the images of the waterspout and the lightning over the Morro. Do we have the pictures? (shown on screen). Let’s hope there was no damage.
I appreciate your presence.
On November 2 and 3 , the United Nations General Assembly will consider for the thirtieth time the agenda item entitled “Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”
This will occur in a special context, marked by the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian, by the effects of a multidimensional global crisis that includes an international economic crisis and an imminent threat of a global recession, food crisis, energy crisis, health crisis, and other . In a context also of unprecedented intensification of the blockade against Cuba, which comes from the second half of 2019, based on a policy of the preceding Republican Government of the United States, of economic suffocation, of economic war, of deliberately seeking the collapse of the Cuban economy and of the country, without measuring the serious humanitarian consequences or the impacts of that objective, which will never be met, but which would undoubtedly cause unpredictable consequences.
The Report, which you already have online, on-line, and our people, our country, and the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Havana, reveals these impacts.
The blockade is not a new design, but it has been surgically better designed, targeting each of the country’s main incomes, viciously seeking to increase the impact on the daily life of our population, based on the best expression of that policy that is the Memorandum of Undersecretary Lester Mallory of April 1960, which recognizes that the objective of the blockade is to depress nominal and real wages, cause hunger, despair, suffering and the overthrow of the Government. The Helms Burton Act of 1996 codifies that same policy. And in the maximum pressure measures against Cuba, the more than 200 additional blocking sanctions applied by President Donald Trump, those same cruel objectives are sought.
I will give a new information. Between August 2021 and February 2022, the losses caused by the blockade are in the order of 3,806 million dollars. It is a historical record amount for a short period such as these seven months. The Gross Domestic Product of Cuba, according to very conservative data, could have grown, despite the adverse circumstances facing the Cuban economy, by 4.5% in that period, had these measures not been applied.
During the first 14 months of the Biden government, the damage caused by the blockade amounts to 6,364 million dollars, also a historical record. This means more than 454 million dollars per month and more than 15 million dollars per day, in damages.
In six decades, at current prices, the accumulated damages add up to 154 thousand 217 million dollars. An exorbitant figure for a small economy, without great natural resources, insular, underdeveloped, like Cuba’s. But at the value of gold, that is, per ounce of gold, taking into account depreciation, the accumulated damages reach the enormous figure of 1 trillion 391 thousand 111 million dollars. That is, one million million plus 391 billion dollars. Imagine, imagine our people, what Cuba could have done with those resources. What would Cuba be like today if the country would have had those resources?
The economic blockade is the central element that defines the nature of the United States policy towards Cuba. It was strengthened to unprecedented levels under President Trump.
Today the policy of President Joseph Biden against Cuba is unfortunately and inertially the same Republican policy. No changes have been made to that policy.
The surgical design pursued by each income, each source of financing and supply in the country is maintained, and is a daily theme. They are the regulations in force and it is the current practical conduct of the US authorities.
The impact therefore has a greater dimension and from the humanitarian point of view more perverse and damaging.
Blocking has gone to an aggressive quality that it hasn’t had in the past.
Despite the positive announcements, in the right dimension, but extremely limited, and practically inapplicable, in May 2016 by the US authorities, the blockade has not changed in any way in its scope or depth.
The performance of the Cuban economy in the last two years has been inevitably marked by the coincidence of these impacts with those of the Covid-19 pandemic itself, the exorbitant expenses to which it forced our country, and the consequences of the most recent international crises including the rise in food and fuel prices.
The existence of the blockade is an undeniable reality. No one could seriously or sanely say that the blockade does not exist or is a mere pretext.
It is totally tangible and reaches and harms every Cuban family, Cubans residing in the United States, US citizens, and individuals and businesses around the globe.
It is aimed at causing the inability of the country to meet the fundamental needs of the population.
The blockade causes extreme direct damage due to the integral gear of its measures, but at the same time it has the cruel and practical purpose of depriving the country of the financial income that is essential to acquire supplies, equipment, parts and pieces, technology, software, and then it also causes damage in that sense. This is the case, for example, of food, in the midst of a situation of shortages, shortages, long queues, anxiety, in the population facing difficulties even in ensuring the basic basket, which requires a highly effective effort by the Government and entities, or to ensure people’s daily lives.
It is true that Cuba can buy food in other markets, and it is true that it buys food even in the United States. But the blockade deprives Cuba of the essential financial resources to make those purchases in the United States or to make similar purchases in third markets. I will return to that topic.
The national electric power system is going through an extremely serious situation, which is the result of serious limitations, of lack of fuel in some cases and measures, but above all of obstacles to acquiring spare parts and other resources, by depriving the country of financing essential to do so, beyond the fact that the blockade prevents the use of US technologies, buying in the US market. In other words, the blockade is a dual effect, which must necessarily be taken into account.
It is not just bilateral, it is extraterritorial. It is direct and at the same time deprives the country of financial resources in areas where there are no specific prohibitions on purchases in third markets.
Cuba cannot acquire, anywhere, in any way, technologies, equipment, parts, pieces, digital technologies or software, which have 10% US components, which is a direct impact, as serious as that of the lack of foreign currency to guarantee supplies.
The measures of direct, financial, physical, extortion persecution, the effect of intimidation, the effect of the high country risk resulting from these actions, persecutes each one of our commercial, investment or financial transactions, since it places us in serious dilemmas. to supply companies.
This is the case of banking-financial relations. Dozens and dozens of banks deny services to Cuba for fear of US fines. Others are forced to settle from illegal, extraterritorial actions by the US government to avoid those fines. And it causes damage to a natural presence of the Cuban financial system in the international one.
The direct persecution of producers, transporters, carriers, shipping companies, insurers and reinsurance companies, seriously hinders and makes our fuel purchases more expensive by more than a third, and sometimes up to half.
Of course, this situation has had to be faced with emergency measures, and our people understand and accompany the daily difficulties that we all suffer, and at the same time assist, contribute to the investments and palliative measures that the Government, in conditions of emergency attention to electro-energy system and other needs, rigorously and efficiently meets. This is the case, for example, of blackouts.
Between January 2021, new data, and February 2022, a total of 642 direct actions were reported by foreign banks that, faced with the threat of the US financial system, refused to provide services to the country. In that short period, 642 actions against foreign banks. Unilateral, coercive, and illegal actions, from the point of view of international law of the national law that governs the conduct of these banks, from the point of view of the universally accepted norms of the international financial system.
Dozens of diplomatic missions, of Cuban embassies today lack banking services.
In various latitudes, a private Cuban citizen, a natural legal person, is deprived of opening personal accounts for the sole fact of being a Cuban national, which is deeply discriminatory.
The drug production capacity of the country has been seriously affected by these concepts, as I already mentioned. Cuba produces 60% of the medicines it basically needs. But to produce these medicines, it needs not only some raw materials, parts and pieces, some components, but also obviously needs financing, which the oppressive and comprehensive application of the blockade prevents from reaching our country.
In the face of these adversities, in the face of the hostility of the US government, our country does not stop or stop renewing itself.
Cuba changes every day, and will continue to change. Cuba renews itself all the time. What does not change, what is not renewed, what is anchored in the past, is the blockade policy.
We overcome Covid with our own vaccines. Despite the fact that the United States government, at the peak of the pandemic, applied exemptions, that is, it applied to dozens of countries under coercive or unilateral measures, that these be condoned, temporarily relaxed, for humanitarian reasons. And those countries under sanctions regimes were allowed to purchase vaccines, to purchase medical oxygen, to purchase lung ventilators.
Why was Cuba not included among the countries to which these temporary exemptions were applied? It was a deliberately cruel act. It is the recognition that the blockade also suffocates and kills.
The United States government hindered the acquisition of medical oxygen in third countries, when there was a failure of our main plant that caused a crisis in the country; which did not cause loss of life thanks to an extraordinary and effective effort by our people, the armed institutions, the health system and the Government.
The blockade prevented the acquisition of pulmonary ventilators. We didn’t stop. We produced our own lung ventilators with Cuban prototypes.
The Cuban economy is going through moments of great difficulty. The transformations, the growing autonomy and development of the socialist state enterprise have not stopped. The expansion and registration of thousands of new micro, small and medium-sized companies, both state and private, fundamentally private. The development of science, technology and innovation as a pillar of government management and of the transformations that ensure the progress of our socialist model.
The referendum on the Family Code, recently concluded in the midst of difficulties, shows a majority consensus. The transformations that the country applies in all its areas, based on the principle of changing everything that needs to be changed and moving towards a fairer, more humane, more democratic socialism for all our people.
We are all making a superhuman effort today to rescue the levels of economic activity that have been seriously affected by the circumstances that I explained.
It works very actively to diversify the productive matrix. There is a growing participation of entrepreneurship, as they are called, of state and non-state companies in these endeavors and the opportunities for foreign investment within our development policies have increased.
The blockade continues to limit these efforts, we will never give up our project of social justice.
The rejection of the blockade was one of the most discussed topics in the speeches of the Heads of State and Government at the recent High-Level Session of the General Assembly at the end of September. Forty of them loudly demanded the end of this policy. Some called for Cuba to be removed from the United States government’s arbitrary, unjust, capricious, immoral and illegal list of countries that sponsor terrorism. Others appreciated the cooperation, especially the international medical cooperation, that Cuba offers in a modest and quiet way.
This general debate reliably showed that the blockade policy only causes isolation and discredit to the United States government, which is opposed by the majority of Americans, the majority of Cubans residing in the United States and in other countries, who receives the practically unanimous rejection of the international community and that it has to be lifted since the world has changed and some government of the United States will have to do it.
The repudiation of a criminal policy that has neither defeated nor achieved the objectives it set for itself is universal, although it causes a lot of human damage, it causes suffering every day at every meal when the Cuban family meets at night when there is a blackout, when there are difficulties to guarantee medicine for a sick person, our people suffer.
Cuba has the right to live without a blockade, it has the right to live in peace. Cuba would be better off without Blockade, better off without Blockade. Everyone would be better off without Blockade. The United States would be a better country without a blockade against Cuba. The world would be better without the Blockade of Cuba.
Thank you very much.
Source: Cuba Solidarity UK