By Bruno Rodriguez-Parrilla via teleSur
November 1, 2018
Israel and the United States were once again the only two countries to vote in favor of the brutal economic blockade against Cuba.
United Nations member states voted 189 to 2 to condemn the nearly six-decade U.S. blockade of Cuba, Israel being the only country to side with the United States to maintain the economic blockade on the Caribbean nation. Since 1992 the resolution to end the 1962 U.S. blockade has been voted on in the U.N. General Assembly and each year it is barely maintained thanks to the U.S. vote.
In a Wednesday night tweet, the U.S. mission to the United Nations asked member nations: “Every year Cuba puts forth a resolution that blames Cuba’s poverty, repression, and lack of freedom on the United States. Tomorrow the U.N. will hear what we have to say about that and countries will have to vote between Cuba or the U.S. Who will vote with us?”
Thursday morning the U.S. received its answer when the assembly voted nearly unanimously, 189-2, to end the blockade that has cost Cuba US$933 billion over nearly six decades. The assembly also voted down all eight of the U.S. resolution amendments that claimed that the blockade should continue because of Cuba’s supposedly “severe lack of access to information and freedom” and an “absence of women from the most powerful decision-making bodies.”
No abstentions were recorded.
Addressing the assembly prior to the vote, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called the blockade “an act of aggression and economic war that breaks international peace and order.”
The minister added that Washington is impeding Cuba’s ability to exercise its sovereignty and “violates universally recognized rules of trade and its freedom of navigation.” In 2017, 224 people per 100,000 inhabitants died in Cuba because of how the blockade limits the island’s access to adequate medicine and care, said the foreign minister. The World Health Organization has also called the blockade “unjust.”
As the Donald Trump administration has ramped up its hostilities toward Cuba since taking office in 2017 making economic transactions with Cuba more difficult, the EU has increased its support for the Caribbean country over the past year agreeing to increase trade by 2030.
Full Statement by His Excellency Mr. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, on Agenda Item 43, “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by The United States of America against Cuba”, at the Seventy Third session of the United Nations General Assembly. New York, November 1, 2018.
Excellencies, Permanent Representatives;
On June 25, 2018, a 181 days-old boy named Adam López Macías underwent a surgery aimed at correcting a life-threatening congenital malformation that consisted in a transposition of the great arteries. The surgery lasted 5 hours. His delicate condition, plus a subsequent hypotension and bradycardia, forced doctors to keep his small sternum open until June 29, that is, 96 hours.
The blockade prevents Cuban children who suffer from postoperative low cardiac output, which is a frequent complication of pediatric heart surgery, from receiving what is considered the best treatment, which is the “Advanced Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device”, that is manufactured and patent-protected by the US companies Heart Ware International Inc., from Massachusetts; and Thoratec Corporation, from Pleasanton.
How can the pain suffered by this boy and his family be measured?
Adam managed to recover thanks to the professionalism and dedication of his Cuban medical staff and the efforts made by a whole country.
On December 13, 2017, the girl Rosa Esther Navarro Ramírez, who was born on the 37th week, had to undergo surgery. At that moment she was 1 year and two months old and suffered from a Total Anomalous Pulmonary Drainage.
She then suffered from a ventricular fibrillation and for 27 days, a period of great anguish for her parents, she was treated for a pulmonary hypertension without being able to receive the ideal medication to treat this condition, which is the inhaled nitric oxide, which cannot be immediately obtained for an emergency situation or transported by plane, for it is a flammable and explosive substance that requires to be transported by sea under special conditions. If the blockade didn’t exist, that beneficial pharmaceutical would have been expeditiously requested from a US company that manufactures and supplies it, such as DATEX OHMEDA.
Rosita’s life was saved despite the cruelty of this policy.
A thirteen year old girl from the province of Guantánamo, with a malignant spinal tumor; and a 5 year old boy from Havana with a tumor in the cranial fossa, whose names I should not disclose, could not be treated with the medication Temozolomide, the optimal one to treat this condition, which is manufactured in the United States, although they have fortunately recovered from their disease.
The company Illumina is the world leader in Next Generation Sequencing, (NGS) which guarantees the most accurate cancer diagnosis and is the basis for precision medicine and the personalized treatment of patients. The suppliers of personalized drugs often require that type of diagnosis before supplying them.
In 2017, 224 persons per every 100 000 inhabitants died in Cuba without being able to access those treatments due to the blockade.
In the course of the last year, more than 30 US companies such as Agilent, Cook Medical and Thermo Fisher Scientific either refused to sell to the company Medicuba the pharmaceuticals, inputs and equipment which are indispensable for our health system or failed to respond to their reiterated requests.
The human damage caused by the blockade, which qualifies as an act of genocide under Article 2 b) and c) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, are incalculable. It is even a violation of International Humanitarian Law. Human suffering is impossible to calculate.
The purpose of the blockade, a policy that is anchored in the Cold War, has remained unchanged over time.
The infamous classified memorandum issued by the Assistant Secretary of State, Lester Mallory, on April 6, 1960, is what guides the current US administration Cuba policy, for it stated, and I quote: “…there is no effective political opposition… The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support [from the government] is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… every possible means should be undertaken promptly to 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”, end of quote.
We feel glad that, as an exception, a specific license that has been in force since 2016 has allowed for the creation of a joint venture between the Marketing Agency of the Center of Molecular Immunology (CIMAB) and Roswell Park Cancer Center, whereby the therapeutic vaccines, manufactured with Cuban technology, to treat head, neck and lung cancer, will be sold in the US.
Cuba will also be allowed, under a specific license issued in 2017, to buy 81 000 doses of the hormonal contraceptive Mesigyna from a branch office of the US company Bayer.
Furthermore, the blockade is the main obstacle to the flow of information and the broadest access to the Internet and the information and communication technologies by all Cubans, since it hinders connectivity and makes it more expensive in the archipelago; it conditions access to their platforms and technologies and uses cyberspace for actions aimed at a “change of regime”.
It likewise obstructs cultural, academic, scientific and sport exchanges and those of the civil society.
In exercising this hostile policy, the US government, resorting to unbelievable pretexts and truly political motivations, has failed to comply with the number of immigrant visas for Cubans it had agreed to grant, as part of the migration accords in force; it has made more difficult and increased the cost of family reunification and temporary trips to its territory and has restricted family ties.
The blockade is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of Cuban men and women and has been an essential impediment to the aspirations of wellbeing and prosperity entertained by several generations.
These policies also affect Cubans living in the US.
The blockade is also oppressive for the US citizens, for it restricts, in an unjust and arbitrary way, their freedom to travel to Cuba, the only destination in the planet that is forbidden to them.
The US government grossly manipulates and politicizes the universal aspiration to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights for all and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the amendments it has presented, whose only purpose is to adulterate the nature and focus of the resolution against the blockade -which has been approved by this Assembly for 26 consecutive times-; fabricate a pretext and seek a sort of international endorsement to continue to tighten it.
A shameless memorandum circulated last week among all of you by the State Department states that, and I quote: “our proposed amendments are intended to address the underlying reason for the embargo.”
Further on, with great cynicism, the US State Department points out, and I quote: “Last year, direct reference was made to the US embargo undermining collective efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We heard you loud and clear. Cuba’s actions clearly threaten these SDGs, and in order to fully implement them we need your support on amendments 2, 3, and 4.” This truly makes a mockery of this Assembly.
Equally noteworthy is the fact that the memorandum resorts to the deceitful recourse of portraying the text of the amendments as if it were a previously agreed language, in order to surreptitiously introduce some contents referring to another issue, considered by a different organ and about a different country.
What was originally document L.7, with a single 8 paragraphs amendment, later became 8 separate amendments, with the single intention of creating confusion, overusing time and provoking fatigue, a quite dishonest trick.
If the US government wants to consider and put to the vote initiatives related to human rights or Sustainable Development Goals, we would be willing to do that immediately and before any organization, anytime and under any relevant item of the agenda.
We will continue to encourage dialogue and cooperation as the only way to favor progress in the exercise of human rights and we will continue to actively and constructively participate in the Human Rights Council, its Universal Periodic Review, cooperating with all its universal mechanisms.
The US government does not have the least moral authority for criticizing Cuba or anyone else with regards to human rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of human rights with political purposes as well as the double standards that characterize it.
The US government is responsible for the commission of crimes against humanity. It dropped a nuclear weapon against civilians. It develops weapons of mass destruction; it has engaged in a new arms race; it is further improving nuclear weapons, the highly lethal conventional weapons and the autonomous weapons; and is militarizing cyber space and outer space.
It established military dictatorships and organized coup d’ etats. Through the wars it has waged in recent years, it has caused the death of millions of people, many of them innocent; as well as waves of refugees, with the consequent human suffering.
It has resorted to extrajudicial executions, kidnapping and torture. It maintains inmates imprisoned indefinitely, in a legal limbo, without any right to a defense attorney, a court hearing or a due process in the Naval Base in Guantánamo, a territory it has usurped from our country.
The US government is the author of human rights violations against its own citizens, particularly Afro-Americans and Hispanics, minorities, refugees and migrants.
In the midst of the opulence of that country, 40 million of its citizens live in conditions of poverty and 52 million live in impoverished communities. More than half a million sleep in the streets. Twelve per cent lack medical insurance and millions of low income persons will be left without it. Quality education is not accessible to the majority. Equal opportunities are a pipedream. It is a government of millionaires imposing savage policies.
Women receive 82 per cent of the salary earned by men for an equal job. If they happen to be Afro-Americans they will earn 64 per cent; and if they are Latin they will earn 62 per cent. Sexual harassment denunciations are generalized.
The average wealth of white families is 7 times as much that of Afro-descendant families. The number of African-American children below one year of age who die is twice as much. Afro-American mothers have between 3 to 4 times more chances to die during childbirth and half of them could survive if they received better medical assistance.
There is a different racial pattern with regards to the inmate population, the length of imprisonment terms, the application of the death penalty -which is also applicable to minors and the mentally disabled-; and the number of persons being shot dead by the police.
The US government builds walls and separate children -even young children- from their migrant parents and put them in cages.
The United States is party to only 30 per cent of human rights instruments and does not recognize the right to life, peace, development, security, food or the human rights of boys and girls. Its withdrawal from the Human Rights Council has come as no surprise to us.
The “special interests”, that is, the corporate interests, have kidnapped the US political system, which is corrupt by definition.
Words and political statements do matter. While demonizing and turning political opponents, institutions, social groups and nations into enemies through the use of propaganda, division, violence, hatred crimes and wars thrive and take root.
The impunity of the arms lobby is the one to blame for the increase of homicides, even of teenagers.
Dirty politics, indecency, amorality, lies, the redesigning of electoral districts out of political convenience and the manipulation of voters are all exacerbated. Six million low-income US voters are prevented from voting. In Florida, 21 per cent of Afro-American voters are not entitled to cast their vote.
Fake information, the monopoly over communication technological platforms and the generation of contents grow up together.
The US government unscrupulously interferes in the electoral processes and internal affairs of most States in this planet.
It tries to forcefully overthrow the legitimate government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by launching against it a brutal disparagement campaign and military threats, while calling for violence and a coup d’ etat.
The US interferes in the Republic of Nicaragua and tries to destabilize it.
It attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.
It intends to exercise its imperial domination in “Our America” and once again invokes the age-old, aggressive and dangerous Monroe Doctrine and the “gunboat diplomacy”. The US is currently redeploying its Fourth Fleet and increasing the amount and power of its military bases in the region.
The quantifiable damages accumulated as a result of the blockade after almost six decades of its implementation amount to 933.678 billion dollars, taking as a reference the devaluation of the US dollar against the price of gold. At current prices, the damages caused by the blockade are estimated at more than 134.499 800 billion dollars.
Only in the course of last year, the losses caused by the blockade to Cuba amounted to 4.321 200 billion dollars.
With the revenues that Cuba has failed to receive from the export of goods and services and the costs associated to the geographical reorientation of trade, which forces our country to keep huge amounts of stocks, Cuba’s GDP would have grown by 10 per cent as an average annual rate, at current prices, during the last decade.
In the face of difficulties, Cuba has managed to achieve economic progress and offered broad and fraternal international cooperation despite the blockade and the impossibility to access multilateral credits, while achieving human development and social justice standards that have enjoyed universal recognition.
The blockade continues to be the main obstacle to the implementation of both the 2030 National Plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It violates the right of the Cuban people to free-determination, peace, development, security and justice.
It violates the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter and International Law. It is an act of aggression and economic warfare that breaches peace and international order.
It also infringes the universally recognized rules of trade and freedom of navigation.
It is detrimental to the principles contained in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace and is contrary to the consensus of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the whole world.
It brings about isolation and discredit for the US government and arouses the just rejection of the international community.
We live in an era of increasing threats to international peace and security, proliferation of non-conventional wars, gross violations of the sovereignty of States, policies of domination through the use of force, attempts to re-impose a unipolar order, breaches of International Law, threatening and arbitrary breaks with international treaties; multiplication of unilateral sanctions and trade wars, essentially caused by the predatory and supremacist nature of the US imperialism, inclined to favor neo-liberal fundamentalism, the “philosophy of dispossession” and the so called “peace based on the use of force”.
Consequently, the serious international problems worsen; poverty and inequality are on the rise; the irrational and unsustainable patterns of capitalist production and consumption are boosted; climate change moves on inexorably, with all its negative consequences; and the nuclear threat is exacerbated.
There has also been a ferocious intensification of the extraterritorial implementation of the blockade, particularly the persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions and banking and credit operations at a global scale.
More than one hundred banks have requested to close the accounts of our embassies and the offices of Cuban entities abroad; they have either retained funds destined to Cuba or have refused to transfer funds to or from our country, even if they are meant for humanitarian purposes, as those aimed at palliating the effects of hurricane Irma in Cuba or Cuba’s cooperative projects in solidarity with other nations.
The economic blockade is contrary to the UN Charter and the International Law, and its aggressive extraterritorial implementation is harmful to the sovereignty of all States.
Since the military occupation of Cuba in 1898 by the United States to prevent our independence, which had already been gained after a long-lasting epic campaign, relations between Cuba and the US have been characterized by the efforts made by successive US administrations to control Cuba’s destiny against the unshakable resolve of Cubans to defend their independence and free determination.
Today, Cuba is a totally independent country and the master of its own destiny, which develops respectful relations with all countries in the world and has friendly and cooperative bonds with all of them. This has been an achievement attained through the sacrifice of several generations, which we will all defend whatever the cost.
With the United Sates we have diplomatic relations, some episodes of official dialogue and we develop some sort of mutually advantageous cooperation in a limited number of areas.
However, the defining feature of bilateral relations continues to be the economic, commercial and financial blockade that punishes the whole Cuban people, inspired by feelings of domination, ideological intolerance and political revenge.
We are ready for a peaceful coexistence, despite the profound differences that we have with the US government, based on mutual respect, sovereign equality and both peoples’ benefits.
We Cubans will continue to freely decide on our internal affairs by acting cohesively together, just as we are doing during the popular debate of the draft Constitution and as we will do during the next referendum to adopt it. There is no room -nor will it ever be any room- for any interference from a foreign power.
I should denounce that the escalation of statements, actions and threats of the US government against Cuba pursue no other purpose but to create a climate of higher bilateral tensions. In that plot, the characters with a long history of conspiracies aimed at creating bilateral crisis have become all the more visible.
As President Miguel Díaz-Canel expressed in this podium on September 26 last, “Cuba will always be willing to engage in dialogue and cooperate on the basis of respect and an equal footing. We shall never make concessions affecting our sovereignty and national independence; we shall not negotiate our principles nor shall we accept conditionalities.”
Cubans of all generations will remain forever faithful to the example of Jose Marti to proclaim, with a similar conviction that, “before ceasing in our efforts to make the Homeland prosperous and free, the North sea will join the South sea and a snake will hatch from an eagle’s egg.”
Thank you, very much.
We are not ready to negotiate not even one millimeter of our principles; not even an ounce of our independence and sovereignty.
We Cubans, by our own free will, will decide upon our internal affairs, as we have been doing during the discussion of the draft Charter and as we will do during the upcoming referendum to adopt it.
Distinguished Permanent Representatives:
We are deeply grateful to those of you who, this morning, have expressed your rejection against the blockade imposed against our country and to the citizens from all nations and the increasing majority of US citizens who have been supporting this cause for peace, justice, kindness and human dignity.
On behalf of the heroic, hard-working and fraternal people of Cuba, I ask you to vote in favor of the draft resolution contained in document A/73/L/** “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.
Thank you, very much.