On Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, presented to the press the Report on the impact of the US policy of blockade of Cuba in the last year.
The UN Resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” will be voted on the twenty-eighth occasion in the General Assembly of the United Nations, a space where the international community has repeatedly supported the island.
The Cuban chancellor began his presentation by referring to the latest actions of the United States government against Cuba, announced this Thursday by the State Department.
“The expulsion of two diplomats from Cuba’s permanent mission to the United Nations (UN) and the additional restriction of movement applied to Cuban diplomats and their families in New York prompts the absolute and energetic rejection of our people, the Foreign Ministry and the government”.
“These are totally unjustified and illegitimate actions, based on slandering diplomats, Cuba’s mission to the UN and our country”, he said.
These measures were publicly announced through a State Department tweet, before they were officially reported to the Cuban mission in New York.
The head of Cuban diplomacy also pointed out that these actions are aimed at escalating bilateral tensions, provoking the closure of embassies and the rupture of diplomatic relations.
He insisted that they are the work of an anti-Cuban reactionary group that has taken over U.S. policy against Cuba and Latin America, and stressed that it is impossible to ignore that they are related to electoral interests.
Rodríguez Parrilla asserted that “Cuba will give an appropriate and timely response,” and called on the international community, in particular the diplomatic community based in New York and accredited to the United Nations, and the American people themselves, to repudiate these actions.
Washington applies more aggressive sanctions in its escalation against Havana
Continuing his presentation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs denounced that Washington is applying specific, non-conventional measures that imply a qualitative change, greater aggressiveness and extraterritoriality to prevent the supply of fuel to Cuba from different markets in South America, Europe and North Africa.
Such actions include direct threat, persecution of fuel transportation companies, as well as pressure against governments registering and flagging those ships, and measures against shipping companies and insurance companies.
In the words of the Chancellor, “this is an escalation that pursues dissuasive and intimidating effects, destined to create additional difficulties for the Cuban population, and to harm each family and person”.
The blockade of fuel supplies is an unprecedented violation of international law, of the rules of coexistence of the world community and, unlike in the past, they announce, proclaim and boast about the devastating effects they cause.
“In addition to these measures,” said Rodríguez Parrilla, “there is a sustained increase in measures that hinder foreign trade, and an increase in the persecution of Havana’s banking and financial relations with other countries.
He recalled that they coincide in time with the activation of the authorization to file lawsuits before U.S. courts, without any jurisdiction, in relation to economic activities with Cuba, under the Helms-Burton Law, applied in its entirety.
He said that such lawsuits have immediate and direct effects against Cuban and third country entities, while causing damage to trade, finance and economic negotiation processes at different levels.
Rodriguez Parrilla also criticized the application of “additional extreme” restrictions by the U.S. government against travel to Cuba, particularly by citizens of that northern country, and exemplified the brutal and sudden prohibition of the arrival of cruise ships to the island.
“The elimination of the general licenses for educational exchanges, called Pueblo a Pueblo, took place before,” he summarized, while arguing that the mere existence of these instruments is a discriminatory act that curtails the freedom to travel of U.S. citizens.
In addition, an arbitrary limit was applied to the sending of remittances from Cubans and Americans to Cuba, which is aimed at harming Cuban families.
Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla expressed that the U.S. political campaign, which precedes actions against Cuban medical cooperation programs in more than 70 countries, is also evident.
This is one of the sectors most impacted by U.S. sanctions, preventing the acquisition of drugs.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs cited the example of the company Medicuba S.A., which made more than 50 requests to U.S. counterparts for the purchase of supplies for the health system, without receiving a response from some, while others refused.
He added that there are growing difficulties in obtaining raw materials for the manufacture of various medicines, as well as the impossibility of acquiring them with the required frequency, which leads to delays in the supply to the population.
In financial terms, Rodríguez Parrilla pointed out that dozens of foreign banks have limited or interrupted their links with Cuba.
He denounced that recently, consulates and embassies of the island in several countries, including Europe, received communications from their respective banks, informing them about the cessation of card payments and the prohibition of the use of Visa and Mastercard, an example of the extraterritoriality of the measures.
Massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights
As has been stated in other venues, Rodríguez Parrilla maintained that the blockade constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of Cubans, as well as of their fellow citizens residing in the United States and in third countries, and of American citizens themselves.
“It is fully covered by the Geneva Convention as an act of sustained genocide against the people of Cuba,” he stressed.
The accumulated damages from the application of unilateral encirclement over the past 60 years, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold on the international market, amounts to 922,630 million dollars, while at current prices, they total 138,843 million dollars.
These figures do not include the impact of the measures announced in recent months, which will be counted for the next period, according to the Chancellor.
From April 2018 to March of this year alone, the blockade caused losses to Cuba in the order of 4,343.6 million dollars, according to the report that will be presented to the United Nations.
With the revenue foregone for goods and services, and the associated costs of geographical relocation of trade that imposes high inventories on Cuba, the country’s Gross Domestic Product would have grown by 10% at current prices, over the last decade, as a yearly average rate.
“It is possible to count and measure economic damage, but not the impact of its humanitarian damage”. The data presented in this report shows that the blockade continues to be the fundamental cause of the difficulties of the Cuban economy, and of the shortages and difficulties suffered by the people, as well as the main obstacle to the country’s development.
The Trade with the Enemy Law of 1917 is the basic norm of the blockade that is still applied to Cuba, and of other regulations that include the Helms-Burton Law.
Cuba has the overwhelming support of the international community
Cuba has the overwhelming support of the international community, which last year voted almost unanimously (189 votes) against the implementation of the blockade.
According to Rodríguez Parrilla’s announcement, on November 6 and 7, the United Nations General Assembly will once again consider the draft resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.
“We are confident that the mobilization of the American people and the international community and, above all, the conscious mobilization of our people, will ensure that justice and truth prevail and will make it impossible for the U.S. government to continue applying a policy that discredits and isolates it”.
In answering a question from the press, the Chancellor stressed that the Cuban people and international public opinion are becoming more aware and are blaming the U.S. directly for the daily shortcomings caused by the most recent measures applied by that government.
Likewise, he underlined the certainty that Cuba will find a way to avoid the temporary crisis generated, and the certitude that the country has the necessary tools and instruments at its disposal -even in better conditions than in past decades- to address it.
In another moment of his exchange with the journalists, Rodriguez Parrilla stated that the U.S. will not wrest any political concessions from the Cuban government.
“They have failed for six decades and will continue to fail; they are already failing. Cuba’s dignity is not negotiable and the country will never be intimidated by slander, threats or blackmail,” he said.
Latest U.S. Actions Aim to Generate Bilateral Tensions
The expulsion of Cuban diplomats and the increasing restriction of the area of movement of personnel from the island in New York are not isolated actions, but part of a plan aimed at generating bilateral tensions, leading to the closure of the two embassies and further tightening the blockade, denounced the Chancellor at the press conference.
“Cuba will respond in a timely and appropriate manner, without allowing itself to be provoked, as has always happened, in absolute adherence to the truth, international law and diplomatic conventions,” he reaffirmed.
In the last two and a half years, the U.S. government has used various pretexts to tighten the blockade; at the time, it handled in a totally immoral manner the so-called health incidents of U.S. diplomats in Havana.
He clarified that recent international press reports regarding the findings of Dalhousie University in Canada, released Thursday, refute the idea of intentional actions against U.S. diplomatic personnel.
This approach, which the Cuban scientific community will study on the basis of close cooperation with Canadian specialists, demonstrates the inconsistency and political motivation of theories handled in that period, according to the Foreign Minister.
“It is striking that in recent U.S. publications on the subject, something as ambiguous as a combination of neurological manifestations is mentioned, not specified”.
The last “hypothesis” put forward by the United States referred, he recalled, to what they called an uncharacterized exposition, to a directional phenomenon whose origin is unknown, “a pretext that is outside all logic”.
“Washington’s most recent excuse is the presence of 25,000 Cuban soldiers in Venezuela, as the former National Security Advisor (John Bolton) published in his Twitter account, and which we have strongly refuted.
Rodríguez Parrilla reiterated that Cuba does not have a military presence in Venezuela, nor does it participate in or advise on military or security operations in that country.
The failure of the U.S. government’s plan against Venezuela is now used as an additional pretext for acting against Cuba.