Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodrigues Parrilla in a recent speech declared that there is no fundamental difference in US policy toward the socialist state since the election of President Barack Obama., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Havana. October 27, 2011
Cuba will change everything that has to be changed within the Revolution and within socialism
• Statement by Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla on the resolution "The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba." New York, October 25, 2011
ON November 13, 1991, this General Assembly made the decision of including in the program of its next period of sessions, an examination of the issue, "The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba."
Those were the times during which the United States decided, with cruel opportunism, to tighten the siege of the island, which was fighting alone. It did so through the so-called Torricelli Act, which cut off our trade in foodstuffs and medicines with subsidiaries of U.S. companies based in third countries. That was the official act which made notorious and public the extraterritorial implementation of the blockade laws against third states.
It would have seemed impossible then that, 20 years later, this Assembly should be considering today the same issue, so closely linked to the right of nations to self-determination, international law, international trade regulations and the raisons d’être of this organization.
It has already become one of the traditional issues of the General Assembly, which calls for the most reiterated statements, with the most categorical and overwhelming support and which demonstrates with the greatest clarity the uncomfortable isolation of the aggressor country and the heroic resistance of a people who refuse to give up their sovereign rights.
For two decades, the international community has unvaryingly and repeatedly demanded an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba by the United States. It has done so through resolutions approved almost unanimously every year, through dozens of appeals by heads of state and delegations referring to the issue in the high-level general debate of this Assembly, and statements by virtually all international agencies and state groupings, in particular those of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 1996, the Helms-Burton Act extended without precedent the blockade’s extraterritorial dimensions and integrally codified "regime change" and a subsequent direct intervention in Cuba. Nobody knows that the 2004 Bush Plan for Cuba has been left without effect.
The Secretary General’s report on this issue, which includes statements from more than 160 countries and specialized United Nations agencies, illustrates in great detail the persistence of this criminal policy and its direct effects on the Cuban population and economy.
The direct economic damage inflicted on the Cuban people through the implementation of the blockade is already in excess of $975 billion, calculated at the depreciated value of the dollar against the gold index.
Article II, Paragraph b) of the 1948 Convention against Genocide typifies as an act of genocide, and I quote, "…serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group" and in Paragraph c), and I quote, "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
According to the United States government memorandum of April 6, 1960, the objectives of the blockade are "…disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship […] 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."
The United States has never concealed the fact that its objective is to defeat the revolutionary government and destroy the constitutional order which the people defend with sovereignty, what former President George W. Bush called "a regime change" and which is now reaching new dimensions.
Despite the false image of flexibility that the current government of the United States is trying to convey, the blockade and sanctions remain intact, in total implementation and their extraterritorial nature has been accentuated in recent years. As a distinctive feature of the period of President Obama, the persecution of Cuban financial transactions throughout the world has been reinforced, with no respect for the laws of third countries or the opposition of their governments.
Cuba remains powerless to freely export and import goods and services of any kind to or from the United States. It cannot use the U.S. dollar in its transactions, including those paid to the United Nations Organization and other international agencies. Neither can it have accounts in this currency in third country banks or access to credits from banks in the United States, their subsidiaries in third countries or in international institutions such as the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank.
The prohibition on trading with United States subsidiaries in third countries remains unchanged. Business executives from other nations interested in investing in my country continue being sanctioned, threatened or included on blacklists. International agencies, UN programs and agencies have not escaped this policy, due to the government of the United States blocking the cooperation given by these bodies to Cuba, including cooperation directed at areas of extreme sensitivity.
The seizure, in January of 2011, of $4.207 millions of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, for the implementation of cooperation projects with Cuba aimed at combating AIDS and tuberculosis, demonstrates this.
As a result of Cuba’s exposé, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a general license in May of this year to release those funds, which expires June 30, 2015. But the very fact that resources from this humanitarian organization require a license from the United States government in order to reach Cuba, in addition to utilizing these highly sensitive programs as hostages of its policy of aggression towards my country, shows a flagrant disrespect of the United Nations and the institutions comprising it.
Various cooperation projects undertaken by the International Atomic Energy Agency have also fallen victim to the blockade.
In the midst of the supposed relaxation allowing certain groups of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, very recently the Department of the Treasury also refused to issue travel licenses to Cuba to two important U.S. non-governmental organizations which have cooperated with Cuban institutions in the health sphere for a number of years. This decision could prevent the arrival of donations of medicine to which our country does not have access because of the blockade.
The truth is that U.S. citizens’ freedom of travel remains encroached upon and that Cuba continues being the only forbidden destination.
On repeated occasions representatives of the United States have stated here that the issue we are discussing today is a bilateral matter and therefore, should not be discussed in this forum. They will probably repeat this fallacious argument today.
The facts demonstrate its inconsistency. Citizens and companies of many member states represented here have been the subject of sanctions for establishing economic relations with Cuba.
If not a demonstration of extraterritoriality, what are the fines imposed August 18, 2011 on the subsidiary of the French CMA CGM shipping and transport company for offering container services to Cuba? How could one describe the demands made by the European subsidiary PayPal, a company facilitating electronic transactions via Internet, on the German Rum Co. firm to remove Cuban rum and cigars from its webpage?
As can be appreciated in Cuba’s response contained in the abovementioned report from the Secretary General, the examples on extraterritoriality are innumerable.
President Obama’s most recent statements on Cuba have left more than a few observers speechless, but they do not surprise us. The response of President Obama to the offer by the Cuban government to establish a dialogue on all issues of interest on the bilateral agenda, has been, once again, an evasive rejection on the basis of absurd arguments and unacceptable conditions which have never worked. His posture is old, repetitive, anchored to the past; it is as if, instead of being the President elected for change, his predecessors are speaking, including Republicans. He seems to be disinformed, totally unaware of what is currently taking place in our country, of our history and culture.
Cuba made the great change in 1959. At the cost of 20,000 lives, it swept away the dictatorship of Batista, the strong man of the United States. Since then, it has been changing day by day and it is due to its capacity for constant renovation that it has been able to resist. Others were unable to resist because they did not change and stagnated or because they lost their way. Today, Cuba is changing and will resolutely change everything that has to be changed within the Revolution and within socialism. More revolutionary and better socialism.
What have not changed for 50 years, Mr. President, are the blockade and the policy of hostility and aggression of the United States, despite the fact that they have not worked and will not work.
But what the United States government wants to change will not change. The Cuban government will continue being the "government of the people, by the people and for the people." Our elections will not be auctions. There will not be four-billion-dollar election campaigns or a Parliament supported by 13% of electors. We will not have corrupt, political elites, separated from the people. We will continue to be a true democracy and not a plutocracy. We will defend the right to truthful and objective information.
We will continue to conquer "all justice." We will protect equality of opportunity for every child and we will abandon no one. We will not renounce our social policies. Health care and education will continue to be universally available and free of charge. We will assure the right to work, a dignified retirement and social security. Equal pay for equal work will continue to be the norm. We will protect mothers-to-be and the disabled. Human beings will continue to come first. We will defend our culture.
We will continue to believe in human values. The exercise of human rights will be guaranteed for all Cubans. The economy must be efficient, but it will continue to serve the people. The lives of the people are and will be more important than macroeconomic data. Economic policies will continue to be discussed with the people. The consequences of the global economic crisis will be born by all. We will continue to redistribute wealth, so that there are no rich, no poor. We will not allow corruption, speculation, nor will we take money from workers to save banks. We will continue to seek foreign companies' participation in our economy, with no exclusions whatsoever.
It would be enough to review documents recently released by Wikileaks about the work of the Department of State and U.S. embassies in all countries, directed at obstructing political, diplomatic, economic, trade and cooperative relations with Cuba. Shameful in their content are the reports which reveal the concern about, interest in and slander of the humanitarian work done by Cuban medical brigades which are offering their noble, disinterested services to millions of people in dozens of sister countries.
The family ties and the limited cultural, academic and scientific exchange which exist between the United States and Cuba show how positive an expansion of these ties would be for both peoples, without the obstacles and conditions imposed by Washington. Cuba's proposal to move toward the normalization of relations, and the expansion of bilateral cooperation in diverse spheres, stands. The reciprocal solution to pending humanitarian issues would likewise be of mutual interest.
Would it not be better for President Obama to address problems in the United States and let Cubans resolve our own, in peace and tranquility?
One of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters has recently completed his full, unjust 13-year sentence, down to the last minute, but is now prevented from returning to Cuba to rejoin his family, while the other four remain cruelly and unjustly incarcerated as political prisoners. The blatant corruption of the legal process, and the illegal conduct of the government during the trial, are widely known and well documented. Why are the Five not freed in an act of justice, or at least as a humanitarian gesture?
I must transmit the profound gratitude of the Cuban people to all the countries which, over a 20-year period, have expressed, with their voices and votes, the necessity of ending the most unjust, prolonged and far-reaching unilateral sanctions in history, which have affected millions of Cubans.
In the name of Guillermo Domínguez Díaz (16 years of age), of Ivis Palacio Terry (18), Randy Barroso Torres (17) and of Adrián Izquierdo Cabrera (12) who have undergone protective surgery and spent months in casts, in bed, because the extensile pediatric prostheses they need are only produced in the United States or under U.S. patents, and in the name of María Amelia Alonso Valdés (2), Damián Hernández Valdés (4) and Dayán Romayena Lorente (12) who are suffering from central nervous system tumors and should be treated with Temodal, a U.S. patent protected product.
In the name of my self-sacrificing, generous, optimistic and heroic people, and for the good of all nations and "world equilibrium", I request your support for proposed Resolution L.4 entitled, 'The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.'
Thank you very much.