Bruno Rodríguez: Cuba has been the victim of the most unjust, severe, prolonged system of sanctions that has even been imposed on any country
Full text of speech by Cuban Foreign during debate on United Nations resolution condemning U.S. blockade
Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, during the presentation of the UN resolution “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” in New York, November 7, 2019, Year 61 of the Revolution
(Transcript from Presidency of the Republic)
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, permanent representatives;
Ladies and gentlemen delegates:
In recent months, the government of President Donald Trump has initiated an escalation in its aggression against Cuba, with the adoption of unconventional measures to prevent the supply of fuel to our country from various markets through sanctions and threats to vessels, shippers, and insurance companies. Its objective, in addition to affecting the economy, is to damage the living standard of Cuban families. The United States government is responsible.
In April of this year, the filing of lawsuits in U.S. courts against Cuban, U.S., and third-country entities was authorized, under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.
The persecution of our banking-financial relations with the rest of the world has intensified.
Remittances to Cuban citizens were restricted; the granting of visas was reduced and consular services limited; an agreement between baseball federations was canceled; individual trips by U.S. citizens were canceled, along with cruise ship stops and direct flights to Cuban airports, except for Havana; the leasing of airplanes with more than 10% U.S. components and the acquisition of technologies and equipment with the same was prohibited; commercial promotional activities and cultural and educational exchanges ceased. The United States Government is responsible.
It has aggressively intensified the extraterritorial impact of the blockade of Cuba on third states, their companies, and citizens.
The goal of economically asphyxiating Cuba and increasing damage, shortages, and our people’s sufferings is not hidden.
The U.S. government has also proposed to sabotage the international cooperation that Cuba provides in the area of health. With a slander campaign, U.S. politicians and officials directly attack a program based on genuine conceptions of South-South cooperation, which has been recognized by the international community.
The United States Ambassador grossly manipulates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 3: Right to life.
The blockade causes incalculable humanitarian damage, constitutes a flagrant, massive, and systematic violation of human rights and qualifies as an act of genocide under subsections b) and c), of Article 2 of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948. There is no Cuban family that does not suffer its consequences.
A Cuban child with severe heart failure cannot receive the most advanced system of circulatory assistance for pediatric use because it is of U.S. origin, and although its purchase has been requested repeatedly, no response has been forthcoming from the U.S. companies that sell it.
As a result of prohibitions imposed on Cuba, a person suffering from severe heart failure has no access to ventricular support equipment, which maintains the life of a patient in critical condition until it is possible to perform a transplant or, in other cases, until cardiovascular function is recovered.
As a result of the blockade, Bryan Gómez Santiesteban, 16, and Leydis Posada Cañizares, 19, of growth age, cannot receive expandable internal prostheses, but only fixed, and must therefore undergo frequent surgeries for replacement. Expandable prostheses are produced by the U.S. company Stryker. Yes, your government is responsible
The blockade also makes it impossible to access novel drugs for cancer treatment, only produced by U.S. pharmaceutical companies.
Mayra Lazus Roque, 57, is a renal cancer patient who could not be treated with the optimal drug, Sunitinib, only produced by the U.S. company Pfizer. Thanks to the treatment she has received with products from Cuba’s biotechnology industry, she is in good general health.
Eduardo Hernández Hernández, 49, suffers from metastatic melanoma. The optimal treatment for this type of cancer is Nivolumab, a drug only produced by the U.S. company Bristol Myers Squibb, which we cannot access. He is being treated with other alternatives. Your government is responsible.
Year after year, the United States delegation at this headquarters, as the Ambassador just did, has expressed, with a good dose of cynicism, that her government supports the Cuban people. Can anyone believe such a statement?
The government of the United States lies and falsifies data on alleged licenses for sales of medicines and food to Cuba, which are very difficult to obtain.
The United States delegation in those seats should explain to this Assembly the conditions it imposes on Cuban purchases: there is no access to credit, official or private; payment in cash is required when goods reach the port; banks that process our transactions are persecuted; Cuban vessels cannot be used for transport. Yes, it is responsible. Who in the world conducts trade under such conditions?
The successful, effective Cuban model has ensured and assures Cuban men and women equal opportunities, equity and social justice, despite hostility and coercion.
The United States government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in the area of human rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of this issue for political purposes and the double standards that characterize its use.
The Ambassador said that her goal is to reveal the truth, but her guilty conscience betrayed her words, and she says that she has not come to confess.
Article 3: Right to Life, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The deaths of civilians caused by U.S. troops in various latitudes, and the use of torture merit condemnation; as well as the murder of African Americans by police and migrants by border patrols; the deaths of unaccompanied minors in immigration detention, and the abusive and racially disproportionate use of the death penalty, applicable to minors and the mentally handicapped.
Article 5: Freedom from torture.
The impunity of the gun lobby is responsible for the increase in homicides, including among teenagers. In the first eight months of 2019, there have been some 250 mass attacks with firearms, with almost 1,000 victims, of which about a quarter were fatal. In 2018, 100 U.S. residents died daily and 274 were injured by guns.
In the United States, there are 2.3 million individuals incarcerated, a quarter of the planet’s prison population, and in one year 10.5 million arrests are made. Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest.
Opioid overdoses kill 137 U.S. residents every day and, for lack of proper treatment, 251 die of heart disease and 231, prematurely, of cancer. 170 preventable daily amputations are performed, associated with diabetes.
Article 25: Right to health.
Repression and police surveillance of immigrants, the separation of families, the separation of parents and indefinite detention of more than 2,500 children, and the deportation of 21,000, and brutal measures that threaten the children of illegal immigrants who were raised and educated in the United States are abhorrent.
Article 1: Right to dignity and freedom.
Article 11: Due process.
This government holds prisoners indefinitely, in legal limbo, without defense, courts, or due process, in the Guantanamo naval base prison, on our territory usurped by the United States.
Article 25: Right to personal well-being.
In the richest country, 40 million U.S. residents live in poverty, 18.5 million of them in extreme poverty. 25.7% of those with disabilities lived in poverty at the end of last year. More than half a million of its citizens sleep on the streets.
Article 23: Right to work.
At the end of 2018, there were 6.6 million unemployed in the United States.
Article 25: Right to health.
There are 28.5 million citizens without medical insurance, and millions with low incomes will be deprived of coverage with the measures announced.
Article 26: Right to education.
Quality education is not accessible to the majority. Half of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level. Equal opportunity in the United States is a chimera. Adolescents and youth rightly protest against their government for stripping them of environmental rights.
Article 2: Non-discrimination
Women earn approximately 85% of average male income in the United States, and must work 39 more days a year to match them. There are widespread complaints of sexual harassment
The average wealth of white families is seven times greater than that of Afro-descendant families. The death rate of children under one year of age and mothers in childbirth is twice that of whites.
There is a disproportionate racial pattern in the U.S. prison population and in the length of prison sentences.
Corruption prevails in the political system and the electoral model violates postulates of Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, referring to the right to participate in conducting public affairs. There is a growing gap between government decisions and the will of the people. Powerful, exclusive minorities, particularly corporate groups, decide the nature and composition of the government, Congress, and institutions meant to impart justice and enforce the law.
The United States is a country where human rights are systematically violated and often massively and flagrantly. It subscribes to only 30% of international human rights instruments and does not recognize as such the right to life, the right to peace, the right to development, to security, to food, nor does it recognize the rights of girls and boys.
Article 13: Freedom to travel
The blockade also violates the human rights and civil liberties of U.S. citizens, for whom the right to travel to Cuba is unjustly and arbitrarily restricted, the only prohibited destination in the world. The United States government is responsible.
Over the last year, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and other U.S. agencies imposed fines on financial groups in third countries, such as the Italian Unicredit Group and the French Société Générale, for violating the sanctions system against Cuba. Dozens of foreign banks were intimidated, and limited or suspended their financial ties with our country.
Natural legal persons, that is, simply people, are also victims of the blockade. A German citizen who offers his services at the Cuban Embassy in Berlin received a notification of the closure of his Amazon account, allegedly on the basis of blockade regulations.
The illegal Helms-Burton Act guides the aggressive conduct of the United States against Cuba. Its essence is the open pretense of violating the right to self-determination and independence of the Cuban nation. It asserts U.S. legal authority over the commercial and financial relations of any country with Cuba, and establishes the supposed primacy of the law and the jurisdiction of the United States over third countries. The blockade, as a whole, is a serious violation of international law, the United Nations Charter, and the postulates of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
Not everyone adheres to the illegal extraterritorial application of restrictions imposed by U.S. law. In June of 2019, a primary level judge of The Hague Court issued a ruling favorable to the company PAM International, based in Curacao, in its lawsuit against the Dutch company EXACT Software Delft, now a subsidiary of the U.S. firm KKR, for its application of provisions of the United States blockade against Cuba. The judge ruled that the latter must continue offering its services to PAM International, for the supply of software to Cuban companies and organizations.
Examples like this show that there are antidote laws, World Trade Organization bodies, and means and ways to confront the extraterritorial application of the blockade of Cuba.
The accumulated damages caused by the blockade over almost six decades have reached 922 billion dollars, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar as compared to the value of gold. At current prices, quantifiable damages of more than 138 billion dollars have been incurred.
For years, the blockade has constituted an impediment to the aspirations for well-being and prosperity of several generations of Cubans and continues to be the fundamental obstacle to the country’s economic development. It serves as a brake on the updating of our Economic and Social Development Model and the implementation of the 2030 National Plan, for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.
The effects of the blockade, particularly travel restrictions, affect the non-state sector of the economy with particular force.
With unearned revenue from exports of goods and services, and without expenses associated with the geographical relocation of trade, which imposes the need for extensive inventories, Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product would have grown, at current prices, some 10% as an annual average rate over the last decade.
The annual damages caused by the blockade far exceed the amount of direct foreign investment needed for national development.
For almost six decades, Cuba has been the victim of the most unjust, severe, prolonged system of sanctions that has been imposed on any country. The United States government is responsible.
Despite all the limitations and difficulties our people experience, Cuba has been able to counteract the manifest intentions of the blockade, its overwhelming effect for six decades, and unquestionable impact on the country’s potential.
It is the effectiveness of the Cuban socialist system, the state and the patriotism, revolutionary convictions, solidarity, consensus, and unity of our people that, despite the limitations, has allowed Cuba to overcome the serious challenges imposed.
One might ask whether even some industrialized, technologically advanced countries would be able to withstand such a prolonged and overwhelming attack, while ensuring modest but persistent growth of their economy, preserving development programs, moving toward a service and knowledge economy, and guaranteeing the exercise of all human rights, in conditions of equity, for all of their citizens, as occurs in Cuba.
This Assembly has repeatedly confirmed its rejection of the application of unilateral coercive measures as contrary to international law and the United Nations Charter.
The United States applies systems of coercive measures against more than twenty countries and specific unilateral measures against dozens of nations, a trend that has been intensified by the current administration.
As the Comandante en jefe of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, expressed on the United Nations 50th anniversary, at this same podium, we should aspire to a world “without cruel blockades that kill men, women, and children, young and old, like silent atomic bombs.”
The United States government presumes to exercise imperialist domination in Our America, again invokes the outdated, aggressive Monroe Doctrine and “gunship diplomacy,” deploying the Fourth Fleet and increasing the presence and power of its military bases in the region.
The blockade policy’s definition is best expressed in the infamous. memorandum written by Undersecretary of State Lester Mallory, in April of 1960, who I quote: “…There is no effective political opposition (…) The only possible way to make the government lose domestic support is by provoking disappointment and discouragement through economic dissatisfaction and hardships (…) Every possible means should be immediately used to weaken the economic life (…) denying Cuba funds and supplies to reduce nominal and real salaries with the objective of provoking hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.”
The United States representative offends this Assembly with unacceptable interventionist language, to refer to the heroic Venezuelan people, their civic-military union, and the Bolivarian Chavista government, headed by President Nicolás Maduro Moros, to whom we express unwavering solidarity.
The United States government uses falsehoods and slander as a pretext to intensify its aggression against Cuba. I reiterate that neither threats nor coercion will extract a single political concession. Nor do we renounce our will to achieve a civilized relationship with the country, based on mutual respect and recognition of our profound differences.
As Army General Raúl Castro pointed out on April 10, before the National Assembly of People’s Power, “Despite its immense power, imperialism does not have the capacity to break the dignity of a united people, proud of its history and the freedom conquered with so much sacrifice.”
Cuba recognizes the ethical and political chasm that exists between the U.S. people and their government, and will do everything possible to develop the Broad and deep ties that unite us with U.S. citizens.
Distinguished Permanent Representatives; Ladies and gentlemen delegates:
We recognize with deep gratitude all those who have expressed their rejection of the blockade of our country and those who have always accompanied us in our incessant struggle for the end of this policy.
As the President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, affirmed on October 10, Cubans are awaiting “intense, challenging days, but no one is going to take away our confidence in the future, which we owe our children, in the homeland that our parents won for us by standing firm.”
On behalf of the heroic, selfless, solidary people of Cuba, I once again ask that you vote in favor of the proposed resolution contained in document A/74/L.6, the Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.
Thank you very much. (Applause)