Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cuba seeks UN help to end US economic blockade


Staff Writer

Cuba will next Tuesday request the United Nations (UN) General Assembly to intervene so the United States of America (US) can lift the economic blockade it has imposed on the Caribbean island nation.

Addressing a press conference in Gaborone yesterday, Cuban ambassador to Botswana Ramon Medina said the economic blockade against Cuba is intensified despite repeated demands by the international community, especially the UN General Assembly, that it be stopped.

He said last year, 187 member states voted in favour of the resolution entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba". Ambassador Medina said measures taken by President Barack Obama on the travel and remittances by Cuban imigrant's do not change the complex framework of laws, regulations and provisions of the blockade policy against Cuba. He said US citizens are still prohibited from traveling to Cuba, save for a few exceptions.

"As a result of the strict and fierce enforcement of these laws and other normative provisions, Cuba continues to be unable to: freely export or import goods and services to or from the United States, use the US dollar in its international financial transactions and have bank accounts in US dollars in banks from third countries," he said.

Medina said that the extra-territorial application of the blockade has been extraordinarily reinforced as shown by the strengthening of the sanctions and persecution against third countries' citizens, institutions and companies to establish economic, commercial, financial or scientific and technical relations with Cuba.

"Thus, the US government arrogates itself the right to decide on matters that relate to the sovereignty of other states," he charged.The Cuban envoy said Cuba cannot access bank credits from banks in the US and their subsidiaries in third countries. He added that they are unable to also get credit from international financials institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other financial institutions.

"From March 2010 to April 2011, there were significant multi-million fines imposed to US and foreign banking institutions for engaging in operations connected in one way or the other with our country. These kinds of sanctions have a dissuasive effect and in the case of banks in particular, entail breaking relations with Cuba and or forcing Cuban transactions to be made under more precarious conditions," he said.

He also complained that the blockade violates human rights of US citizens who are not allowed to travel to Cuba.Medina said the direct damage to the Cuban people by the implementation of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the US against Cuba until December 2010 based on the current prices and calculated in a very conservative way, amount to over 104 billion US dollars.

The Cuban ambassador said his country is requesting governments committed to "the norms of the multilateral trading system, to the freedom of trade and navigation and to the rejection of extra-territorial application of a national law to vote on Tuesday, October 25, in favour of the draft resolution at the UN General Assembly which demands the lifting of the blockade".

Cuba and the United States have been at loggerheads since the 1961 Bay of Pigs when the US tried to invade Cuba, accusing president Fidel Castro of bringing Socialism to its doorstep.

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