1 November, 2007
STATEMENT BY MR. FELIPE PÉREZ ROQUE, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, UNDER AGENDA ITEM "NECESSITY OF ENDING THE ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL EMBARGO IMPOSED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AGAINST CUBA"
NEW YORK, 30 OCTOBER 2007
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, and also against the rights of the peoples that you represent in this Assembly, has already lasted for nearly half a century.
According to conservative estimates, it has caused losses to Cuba in the order of over US$ 89 billion. At the dollar’s current value, that accounts for no less than US$ 222 billion. Anyone can understand the level of socio-economic development that Cuba would have attained had it not been subjected to this unrelenting and obsessive economic war.
The blockade is today the main obstacle to the development and well-being of the Cubans, and a blatant, massive and systematic violation of the rights of our people.
The blockade attempts to subdue the Cuban people through starvation and disease.
This is how the essence of the blockade on Cuba was explained at a meeting led by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1960:
"…there is no effective political opposition in Cuba; therefore, the only foreseeable means that we have today to estrange the internal support for the Revolution is through disillusion and discouragement, based on dissatisfaction and economic difficulties. Any conceivable means must be promptly used to weaken Cuba’s economic life. Money and supplies to Cuba must be denied in order to decrease the real and monetary wages with a view to causing hunger, despair and the overthrow of the government."
Forty-seven years later, President George W. Bush has repeated it like this:
"…I urge our Congress to show signs of its support and solidarity for fundamental change in Cuba by maintaining our embargo…"
Seven in every ten Cubans, distinguished delegates, have only known the perennial threat of aggression against our Homeland and the economic hardships caused by the relentless persecution of the blockade.
The United States has ignored, with both arrogance and political blindness, the fifteen resolutions adopted by this General Assembly calling for the lifting of the blockade against Cuba. What is more, over the last year they have adopted new measures, bordering on madness and fanaticism, which further tighten the sanctions and the extraterritorial persecution of our relations with the countries that you represent.
The blockade had never been enforced with such viciousness as over the last year.
On 14 August 2006, the US Government went as far as penalizing the Alliance of Baptist Churches, claiming that some of its faithful "did tourism" during a visit to Cuba with religious purposes.
In December 2006, the US Government prevented American companies from providing Internet services to Cuba. Then, if you try to access the services of Google Earth, as done by millions of users around the world every day, you get the response that: "This service is not available in your country."
Cuban children have been particularly harmed by the blockade that President Bush has promised to strengthen.
Cuban children cannot receive Sevorane, an inhalation anesthetic manufactured by the American company Abbott, which is the best for children’s general anesthesia. We have to use lower-quality substitutes. President Bush will certainly explain it by saying that those Cuban children are "collateral victims" of his war against Cuba.
The Cuban children suffering from arrhythmias can no longer receive the pacemakers that the American company Saint-Jude used to sell to us. There was extreme pressure from OFAC, the Office for Foreign Assets Control, and Saint-Jude was forced to part with Cuba.
The US delegation should explain to this Assembly why the Cuban children suffering from cardiac arrhythmias are enemies of the US Government.
The Cuban delegation cannot explain – perhaps the US can – why culture has been one of the main targets in the persecution of the blockade.
The US Government prevents Cuba from participating in the Puerto Rico Book Fair. Blocking the participation of Cuban writers and publishers in a Book Fair is a barbaric deed.
Starting in December 2006, the hotels from the American chains Ritz, Carlton, Hilton and Marriott received instructions from the US Government to cancel the contracts of the Cuban musicians working on a temporary basis in their hotels around the world. Only if they move to Miami, declare to admire the policy of President Bush and regret having ever lived in Cuba will they be able to be hired again.
Today, I would like to reiterate our solidarity to the American filmmakers Oliver Stone and Michael Moore. The former was already fined by the US Government, in the name of freedom, for traveling to Cuba to shoot the documentaries "Comandante" and "Looking for Fidel." I really do not know how President Bush thought that Oliver Stone could find Fidel unless he traveled to Cuba. The latter, Michael Moore, is being investigated for the trip that he made to our country last March to shoot his documentary "Sicko." It is, distinguished delegates, 21st-century McCarthyism.
With this grotesque persecution of the honest word and independent art, the President of the United States is emulating the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. Just that this modern-day Inquisition is a lot more barbaric and deadly: it organized the looting of the fabulous Baghdad Library and the burning of over one million volumes.
I would now like to recall the words sent by Cuban and world artist Alicia Alonso in her recent letter to American intellectuals and artists:
"Let us work together so that the Cuban artists and writers can take their talent to the United States, and for you not to be prevented from coming to our Island to share your knowledge and values; for a song, a book, a scientific study or a performance not to be considered, in an irrational fashion, as a crime."
The blockade persecutes the human exchanges and relations between the peoples of Cuba and the United States. It also prevents normal relations between the Cuban families on both sides of the Florida Straits. Fines of up to a million dollars for companies and US$ 250,000 for individuals and prison penalties of up to 10 years for the offenders is the price to be risked by an American visiting our country as a tourist or by a Cuban residing in the United States who wants to visit a sick relative in Cuba.
More than once, this Assembly has heard the US representatives say that the issue that we are now discussing is a bilateral matter, which should not be dealt with by this forum. They will probably repeat this false argument during their explanation of vote.
However, as you are very well aware, the ruthless economic war imposed on Cuba not only affects the Cubans. If that were just the case, it would be extremely serious. But it is even worse. It is an effrontery to International Law, to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and to the right of any country to engage in free and sovereign trade with whom it chooses to.
The extraterritorial enforcement of American laws, scorning the legitimate interests of third countries – the countries that you represent, distinguished delegates, in this Assembly – in investing and developing normal economic and trading relations with Cuba, is an issue concerning all the States gathered here.
In the period spanning between May 2006 and May 2007 alone, at least 30 countries were affected by the extraterritorial provisions of the blockade policy against Cuba.
Let us take a look at a few examples:
- On 28 July 2006, the Netherlands Caribbean Bank, from the Netherlands Antilles, experienced the enforcement of the blockade regulations, including the freezing of US-held accounts and the prohibition of any transactions by American citizens or entities with such Bank.
- On 4 May 2007, England’s PSL Energy Services was fined with US$ 164,000 for exporting to Cuba equipment and services for the oil industry.
- Nor could Sabroe compressors be exported to Cuba after the Danish company that manufactures them was taken over by an American corporation.
- The US multinational General Electric took over Finland’s Datex-Ohmeda. Only until that day was Cuba able to continue purchasing the excellent Finland-made anesthesia and multi-purpose monitoring equipment that we traditionally purchased.
- When Cuba’s Institute for Food Nutrition and Hygiene tried to buy an infra-red spectrophotometer from the Japanese company Shimadzu, it found that it was forbidden under the blockade because such equipment has more than 10% of American components.
- The German company Basf AG could not sell a herbicide-related product to Cuba, either from Germany or from its subsidiaries in Latin America, because the active ingredient is of US origin.
- In late 2006, the Spanish cruise ship company Pullmantur was bought by America’s Royal Caribbean – and Holiday Dream, a cruise ship owned by the former, had to suspend its operations in Cuba.
- In December 2006, the management of Norway’s Scandic Hotel, which had been bought in March 2006 by the American hotel chain Hilton, cancelled the reservations of a Cuban delegation that was supposed to attend an international tourism trade show. That caused a large scandal and widespread rejection from the Norwegian public opinion. But the most incredible element was yet to happen: the spokeswoman of the Hilton Group in London made a public announcement – listen carefully to this, distinguished delegates – that such chain would ban the bookings by Cubans in all its hotels around the world – because if done otherwise, they would be subject to fines or could even go to prison according to the blockade laws.
But the most notorious episode to take place this year in the US blockade against Cuba was, without a doubt, the pitched battle waged by the US Treasury Department against Cuba’s relations with third-country financial and banking institutions.
That was particularly possible after the US Government and its special services gained access to the confidential information of SWIFT, Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, an institution that deals with nearly the totality of payments and the exchanges of messages among the financial institutions from around the world.
Over the last year, more than a score of banks from various countries have been grossly threatened in order to disrupt any kind of relation or transaction with Cuba. For logical reasons, I cannot give more information to this Assembly on such a sensitive issue, for that would facilitate the obsessive persecution of the American agencies fully entrusted with this ignoble task.
A few days ago, the President of the United States said that "Cuba’s regime uses the US embargo as a scapegoat for Cuba’s miseries."
However, the Secretary-General’s Report contained in document A/62/92, with the information provided by 118 countries and 21 international agencies, clearly and thoroughly proves the actions undertaken by the US Administration in the course of the last year to reinforce the blockade and its serious consequences to Cuba.
Today, this General Assembly is provided with the opportunity to freely and openly voice the opinion of the international community on the policy of blockade and aggressions that the United States has imposed on the Cubans for nearly 50 years.
As we speak, back in Cuba our people are following with both intent and hope the decision that you will make. They do so recalling Fidel’s remarks: "Never had a nation such sacred things to defend or such profound convictions for which to fight."
Cuba, delegates, will not surrender. It fights and it will fight with the conviction that defending our rights today is tantamount to defending the right of all the peoples represented in this Assembly.
On behalf of Cuba, I ask you to vote in favor of the draft resolution entitled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."
I ask you, distinguished delegates, to vote in favor of the draft resolution presented by Cuba, despite the lies that have been uttered by the US delegation and the threats that have been made in previous days.
We ask you to vote in favor of Cuba’s draft resolution, which is also to vote in favor of the rights of all the peoples on the planet.
I will now conclude recalling the words by José Martí, Apostle of Cuba’s Independence: "He who rises with Cuba today will be rising for all time to come."
Freedom to the Five Cuban Heroes, fighters against terrorism and political prisoners in US jails!
Freedom to the Five Cuban Heroes!
I do have the legitimate right, distinguished delegates, to say:
¡Viva Cuba Libre! (Long live Cuba!)
¡Viva Cuba Libre! (Long live Cuba!)
¡Viva Cuba Libre! (Long live Cuba!)
JG: Cuba's resolution passed by a vote of 184-4. When it comes to the embargo, the U.S. government finds itself alone and without friends, except for two colonial dependencies and the state of Israel.