By Frei Betto / RHC / Tuesday, 28 October 2008 / firstname.lastname@example.org
On October 29, the UN General Assembly will vote on the Cuban resolution that seeks a suspension of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States government against Cuba since 1959. Before the vote, they will hear a report on its content from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
It will be the 17th time the UN deals with this issue. In 2007, 184 of the 192 UN member nations voted in favor of the resolution to end the blockade. Unfortunately, UN resolutions are not of obligatory compliance, except those from the Security Council.
The fact that the majority of the countries have condemned the blockade 16 times represents a show of support for the island and a moral defeat for the White House whose arrogance is evident for not taking into account the international community, which repudiates the US hostility.
The blockade is an octopus with extraterritorial tentacles that violates international law, especially the Geneva Convention, which makes it a type of genocide. Businesses, banks and citizens that maintain economic, commercial and financial relations with Cuba are persecuted. As another example of what the US government did against China during the Olympics, it also blocked websites related to Cuba.
At a high cost, the government of Cuba has managed to open small fissures in the blockade, such as purchasing some food items from the US. However, the companies that sell to Cuba face a huge bureaucracy, above all because the purchases have to come via a third country, since the blockade prohibits direct relations between the US and Cuba. The buyer is forced to pay in advance and can’t sell its products to US importers; thus the boats return empty to the ports.
The recent hurricanes, Gustav and Ike, caused lots of damage to the island. Farming areas were devastated, 444,000 homes were damaged including 63,000 totally destroyed. The Cuban government asked the White House for a six-month blockade truce for humanitarian reasons. To date, there has been complete silence from the White House on the request. The White House publicity machine tries to camouflage the presidential silence with a series of lies, like the offer of 5 million dollars to the Cuban hurricane victims.
But, what does that amount represent compared to the US$ 46 million that US-AID received this year to finance mercenary groups dedicated to terrorism against Cuba? And another 40 million was budgeted to maintain radio and television broadcasts against Cuba.
Despite the blockade causing more damage than the hurricanes, Cuba is resisting and mobilizing its cooperatives to repair the damage caused by nature and boost agricultural production thanks to recent measures that offer farmers land where sugar was once produced.
Besides having the government as a sure buyer, Cuban farmers will be able to sell direct to the consumer. Without fixating on its own navel, Cuba reiterates its international solidarity and sends doctors to the victims of the hurricanes in Haiti and maintains doctors and professors in more than 70 countries, the majority poor.
History is something that surprises us each day: Who would have imagined a year ago, that Cuban socialists would be observing the financial crisis on Wall Street and that the most capitalist state on Earth would contradict its own discourse and intervene in the market to try and save banks and businesses? What’s left of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception that states there is no salvation outside of the market?
Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, better known as Frei Betto (born in 1944, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) is a Brazilian writer, political activist, liberation theologist and Dominican friar. He was imprisoned for four years by the military dictatorship in 1969 for smuggling people out of Brazil as part of an ongoing series of attacks by the government on the church.
In addition to work on eliminating hunger in Brazil, Frei Betto is involved in various aspects of Brazil's politics. He currently works for the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, for whom he is considered a spiritual advisor and mentor.
Frei Betto is often said to be a supporter of Fidel Castro and frequently visits Havana in an effort to repair relations between the two nations. The two men collaborated on "Fidel and Religion", a book detailing Castro's views on Christianity.