• Michael Laxer

The blockade of Cuba is like a "permanent pandemic...a constant hurricane"-Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla



On November 3, for the 30th year in a row the United Nations overwhelmingly voted to call for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo, imposed by the USA against Cuba.


The vote was a staggering 185 in favour with only the United States and Israel voting against. There were 2 abstentions, Ukraine and Brazil.


Prior to the vote, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, gave a powerful speech outlining the devastating, cruel toll the blockade has taken on the people of this brave, socialist nation over the decades.


We have translated it from the Spanish and present it here in full:


I express our heartfelt solidarity with the sister Caribbean nation of Belize that is suffering today from the ravages of a powerful hurricane.


Mr. President,


Permanent Representatives,


Distinguished Delegates,


More than 80% of the current Cuban population was born under the blockade.


Three decades have passed since this Assembly began to demand, every year, the cessation of this policy, typified as an act of genocide and which has the effect "of a permanent pandemic, of a constant hurricane" and receives universal rejection.


It is a deliberate act of economic warfare with the purpose of preventing financial income to the country, destroying the government's ability to meet the needs of the population, collapsing the economy and making it ungovernable. As Deputy Secretary of State Mallory proposed in 1960, it seeks to "provoke disappointment and discouragement..., reduce wages..., provoke hunger, despair, and the overthrow of the government."


Since 2019, the government of the United States escalated the siege against our country to an extreme, crueler and more inhumane dimension, to deliberately inflict as much damage as possible on Cuban families.


In the first 14 months of President Joseph Biden, the damages caused by the blockade reached 6,364 million dollars, more than 15 million daily.


Between August 2021 and February 2022, they set a record, for only seven months of 3.806 billion dollars. In the absence of the blockade, in that period our GDP could have grown by 4.5%.


The accumulated damages in more than 60 years, reach 154 billion 217 million dollars, at current prices and, to the value of gold, they amount to 1 trillion 391 billion 111 million, one million of 391 billion 111 million. What would Cuba be like today, had it had those resources? What else could we have done? What would our economy look like?


It is impossible to quantify the anguish generated by blackouts and the instability of the electricity service, shortages and long queues to acquire basic necessities, by obstacles to the life projects of families and, especially, of young people.


The blockade also creates the conditions that encourage irregular, disorderly and unsafe migration; the painful separation of families; it costs the lives of Cubans; and contributes to transnational organized crime and human trafficking.


Mr. President,


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government applied temporary humanitarian exemptions to countries that are victims of its unilateral coercive measures and other sanctions.


Why were Cubans excluded from that temporary humanitarian relief?


Even worse, while Covid claimed millions of lives on the planet and filled my country with pain, the blockade intensified and generated difficulties and delays for the arrival of essential medical supplies and equipment to face it, in particular, for the industrialization of Cuban vaccines. The procurement of medical oxygen in third countries was even hindered.


When the blockade prevented the supply of pulmonary ventilators, Cuba developed its national production with its own prototypes.


How could it be explained that a small country like Cuba has been able to defeat Covid-19 with its own resources and vaccines?


At the height of the pandemic and despite our limited resources, we helped send 58 medical brigades to 42 countries and territories, adding to the more than 28,000 of our health professionals currently serving in 59 nations.


But the blockade affects the national production of antibiotics, analgesics, hypotensives, treatments against cancer and heart disease and other essential medicines, which previously were not lacking on such a scale in our hospitals and pharmacies.


Cuban children with retinal conditions and glaucoma cannot count on the laser system of the American company IRIDEX CORPORATION in their treatments. Cases that progress to more severe forms run the risk of becoming blind.


Our children also can't use American-made biological heart valves.


At birth, low birth weight babies have to undergo open-chest surgeries, as there are no low-caliber catheters, marketed by US firms, such as BOSTON SCIENTIFIC.


The U.S. government has no way of justifying, under any circumstances, a policy that deprives Cuban children with cancer of receiving the appropriate chemotherapy treatment.


The feat of saving and preserving life in the midst of such difficult circumstances can only be explained by the governmental and collective effort of our people, for decades, to build a robust system of science and health, of profound humanistic character and high quality, accessible to all Cubans, at no cost.


Mr. President,


The embargo has also exacerbated financial constraints and access to credit to invest, repair and maintain the country's thermoelectric plants and suppliers have increased prices considerably, citing the risk of carrying out operations with Cuba.


After 26 years of uninterrupted work, the German group Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH decided to cut relations with the Cuba Petroleum Union (CUPET).


The French supplier CNIM reported that it would not be able to continue supplying spare parts for the Antonio Guiteras Thermoelectric Power Plant, as they were unable to link up with a country subject to sanctions.


It is also incessant and obsessive the persecution of financial, commercial and investment transactions related to our country.


Between January 2021 and February 2022 alone, 642 direct actions by foreign banks against the Cuban banking system were registered.


In the past year, a sizeable group of third-country banks refused to process payments to suppliers of the Cuban food importing company ALIMPORT.


Under permits subject to restrictions imposed by law, Cuba can purchase limited agricultural products in this country through trade, but it is obliged to pay in advance, and without access to credit, which is also extremely difficult when, at the same time, our sources of income are hindered.


Under these circumstances of financial harassment, our government's efforts to ensure the regulated family food basket are incalculable.


Cuban entrepreneurs are denied, on many occasions, the use of payment platforms and electronic commerce.


In several latitudes, our nationals are even prevented from opening personal bank accounts, just because they are Cubans.


Financial persecution has been further reinforced with the arbitrary and fraudulent inclusion of our country in the State Department's unilateral list of alleged countries sponsoring terrorism, which exponentially raises the so-called Country Risk and forces us to pay for any merchandise even at twice its price in the international market.


Such action against a nation which is a victim of terrorism, which still today suffers incitement to violence and terrorist acts from United States territory, is inadmissible; and whose conduct of firm rejection and persecution of any form or manifestation of terrorism is blameless and recognized.


It was a lethal measure imposed by the previous Republican government, just 9 days after leaving the White House. The current President could correct it with just one signature. It would be morally right and in accordance with the law.


Mr. President,


The extraterritorial impact of the blockade also harms the sovereignty of the countries you represent; infringes their national legislation, subjects them to the decisions of United States courts under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, sanctions its businessmen and prevents access to its ports of third-party ships that docked in Cuba.


It also prohibits subsidiaries of U.S. companies in third countries from trading with Cuba; prevents the export to Cuba of articles produced in any country, when they contain 10% or more of U.S. components; and excludes products manufactured in third countries, if they contain Cuban raw materials.


Who could claim without lying that the United States is a trading partner of Cuba?


We do not attribute to the blockade all the difficulties that our country faces today; But anyone who denies its very serious effects and does not recognize that it is the main cause of the deprivations, shortages and suffering of Cuban families would be untruthful.


Mr. President,


The United States controls the most powerful media and hegemonic digital technology platforms and uses them in a virulent communication campaign of disinformation and discredit against Cuba.


It resorts to the most diverse methods of unconventional warfare and places our children, young people and artists in the target of political and media bombardment.


The U.S. government allocates millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars from the federal budget and covert funds and recruits government institutions and private companies to finance political operators who carry out campaigns of disinformation, hatred and destabilization in digital networks against Cuba.


On October 24, the US transnationals Twitter and Meta (Facebook), which now has among its main executives someone who was campaign manager of an anti-Cuban Republican senator; They deployed, simultaneously, censorship actions against public media and Cuban users. They tagged publications that have seen their reach limited in the networks and eliminated critical accounts of the destabilizing operations against our country. It was a selective, coordinated action that violates the right to free expression of Cubans and expresses the subordination of these companies to the arbitrariness of U.S. politicians.


Mr. President,


President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez affirmed on July 22, at the Closing of the Ninth Period of Ordinary Sessions of the National Assembly of People's Power in its IX Legislature, and I quote: "Cuba's trajectory in the development of its foreign relations demonstrates that the promotion of peace, cooperation and solidarity are defining characteristics of our international projection. We have demonstrated this in our Latin American and Caribbean region, and also in other latitudes." End quote.


The current U.S. government does not have its own policy toward Cuba. It acts by inertia and gives continuity to the inhumane policy of "maximum pressure" established during the Presidency of Donald Trump.


In recent months, it has taken steps to tighten some of the irrational restrictions on U.S. flights to Cuba, remittances and consular procedures.


These are positive actions, but very limited in scope and application. They do not alter in any way economic, trade or financial policy or measures.


The extremely tightened embargo continues to be the central element defining United States policy towards Cuba.


The Cuban government is willing to move toward a better understanding with that of the United States and to develop civilized relations and cooperation, based on mutual respect and without prejudice to our sovereignty.


I reiterate the call made by Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, in 2017, to the government of the United States, to remove and cite "the obstacles that prevent or restrict the ties between our peoples, families and citizens of both countries. We must learn the art of living together in a civilized way, with our differences," he concluded.


Even in the midst of the inhumane limitations imposed on us by the blockade, Cuba will never renounce its socialist system of social justice, confirmed in a free and universal Constitutional Referendum in 2019.


We will always defend the full exercise of all human rights by all our citizens.


We will never accept attempts to impose on ourselves so-called paradigms of democracy or any other culture foreign to Cuba.


With the same energy that we defend the inalienable right of each country to decide its political, economic and social system, we demand respect for ours.


Faithful to the legacy of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, in Cuba there will always be and I quote: a "government of the people, for all the people" and "a Revolution of the humble, with the humble and for the humble."


The most recent example of the exercise of real, participatory and inclusive democracy in our country serves as undeniable evidence.


In a popular referendum, the Cuban people voted in favor of a new modern and progressive Family Code, one of the most advanced in the world, irrefutable proof of the vocation to listen to all Cubans, without any discrimination.


Our country continues to renew itself, on the basis of the principle of "changing everything that needs to be changed", in the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation; in the development of our "socialist, democratic, independent and sovereign state of law and social justice".


We advocate for the increasing participation of our youth and all citizens in the nation's political, economic, social and cultural processes.


We advance in the decentralization of the economy and the empowerment of the socialist state enterprise; thousands of small and medium-sized private and state-owned enterprises have been created; science, technology and innovation, computerization of society and social communication are promoted as pillars of government management; Greater opportunities are provided for foreign investment, within our development policy.


Cuba is renewed all the time. What remains immovable, anchored in the past and isolated, is the blockade.


We highly value the support of numerous governments, personalities, solidarity movements, political, social and popular organizations around the world, in the face of the injustice committed against Cuba.


Mr. President,


We deeply appreciate the commitment and expressions of Cubans and descendants of Cubans in all latitudes, including in the United States, whose voices are raised in defense of Cuba's sovereign rights and in rejection of the application of this policy.


We also thank all those who have expressed their support for our country in the difficult situation of recovery from the serious damage left by Hurricane "Ian" in the western provinces last September.


Hundreds of thousands of our compatriots suffered its impact. 119,048 homes were damaged, large areas of cultivation were destroyed and severe damage to electrical and communications infrastructure was recorded, among other damages.


We will continue to accept with gratitude the emergency aid offered, without conditions, to our people.


We appreciate the noble humanitarian efforts of U.S. organizations, movements, and groups; of congressmen and personalities, the solidarity movement and civil society organizations, who, given the magnitude of the aftermath of the hurricane, have asked the government of President Joseph Biden to temporarily lift unilateral coercive measures against our country, authorize the processing of donations by US banks and purchase materials to rebuild the affected areas.


Mr. President,


Permanent Representatives,


Distinguished delegates,


Millions of Cubans are watching right now what is happening in this room. They have listened to your speeches and are attentive to your votes.


On their behalf, I must thank dozens of heads of State and Government and other dignitaries for their statements rejecting the blockade in the general debate of this session and also by the speakers at yesterday's and this morning's meetings.


By exercising your vote shortly, you will not only be deciding on a matter of vital interest to Cuba and to Cubans.


You will also be voting in favour of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. They will be speaking out in support of reason and justice.


Let Cuba live in peace!


Cuba would be better off without a blockade!


Every Cuban family would live better without a blockade!


Americans would be better off without the blockade of Cuba!


The United States would be a better country without the blockade of Cuba!


The world would be better off without blockade!


I respectfully request you to vote in favour of draft resolution A/77/L.5, entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba". I do so on behalf of the brave, noble and dignified people of Cuba, who despite adversity have not been and will not be defeated; on behalf of our children and young people, who oppose hate politics but suffer its cruel effects; On behalf of the generations of Cubans who were born and those who will be born under the most cruel and prolonged system of coercive measures ever applied against any country and which must be abolished for the good of all.


Thanks.

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