(Email received from the Cuban Embassy of Botswana)
Esteemed friends and colleagues:
First of all, receive our best regard and distinguished consideration. We have a pleasure to enclose herewith the statement by His Excellency Mr. Felipe Pèrez Roque, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, under agenda item 18 of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Necessity of ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”, New York, 8 November 2006.
Mr. Juan Carlos Arencibia
First Secretary and Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. FELIPE PÉREZ ROQUE, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, UNDER AGENDA ITEM 18 OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENTITLED “NECESSITY OF ENDING THE ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL EMBARGO IMPOSED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AGAINST CUBA”
NEW YORK, 8 NOVEMBER 2006
For the fifteenth consecutive time, Cuba submits to the General Assembly the draft resolution entitled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”
We do so in defense of the rights of the Cuban people, but also in defense of the rights of the American people and the rights of the peoples that you represent in this Assembly.
The economic war unleashed by the US against Cuba, the longest and most ruthless ever known, qualifies as an act of genocide and constitutes a flagrant violation of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations. Throughout these 48 years, the US blockade has caused economic damage to Cuba of over US$ 86 billion. Seven in every 10 Cubans have lived, right from their birth, suffering from and enduring the effects of the blockade, which attempts to defeat us through hunger and disease.
The blockade prevents Cuba from trading with the US and receiving tourism from this country. It prevents Cuba from using the US dollar in its external transactions and receiving credits or engaging in operations with US banks or their subsidiaries in other countries.
The blockade does not allow the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank to even give a modest credit to Cuba.
But more serious than all that is that the US blockade imposes its criminal provisions on Cuba’s relations with other countries that make up this General Assembly.
We have seen, delegates, how the representative of the US Government has once again repeated the same false arguments and the same lies that have been told to this Assembly in previous years.
He is lying when he says that the embargo is a bilateral issue.
He is lying when he says that Cuba can engage in trade with and buy from other countries what it cannot purchase in the United States.
He is lying when he says that the US does not persecute the vessels from other countries that try to arrive in Cuba.
He also tells this Assembly that Cuba uses the blockade as a pretext.
I would like to repeat to the distinguished delegate what I already said last year: if the US Government considers that Cuba uses the issue as a pretext, why does it not take the pretext away from us by lifting the blockade? Why does it not eliminate the blockade against Cuba if, in its opinion, Cuba is using it as a pretext to justify its failure?
The blockade prevents Cuba’s trade with companies based in your countries, delegates, not only US companies but also companies from the countries that you represent in this Assembly and which are subsidiaries of US corporations. Nor can vessels with flags from your countries call at US ports, delegates, if they previously carried goods from or towards Cuba. That is the Torricelli Act, signed by President Bush Sr. in 1992.
The US blockade also prevents the companies from the rest of the world, those of your countries, delegates, from exporting to the US any products containing Cuban raw materials; and it also prevents those companies from exporting to Cuba products or equipment containing more than 10% of American components. That is the truth.
The blockade, delegates, chases after the businesspeople from other countries, not only those from the US but also those from other countries, your fellow countrymen and women, who intend to make investments in Cuba. They and their families are threatened with the refusal of entry into the United States and they can even be taken to trial in US courts. That is the Helms-Burton Act of 1996.
I am not going to insist on examples that prove everything that I have said. The Secretary-General has issued an extensive report, with the feedback of 96 countries and 20 international agencies and organizations, which unmistakably reveal the hardships and shortages imposed by the blockade on the life and the development of the Cuban people.
We do find it important, delegates, to inform the General Assembly on the plan for Cuba’s recolonization approved by President Bush in May 2004 and updated in July 2006. It clearly recognizes what the US Government would do in our country if it ever had it under its control.
According to the President of the United States, what is most important is to return all of the properties in Cuba to their former owners. That would include, for example, taking away the land from the hundreds of thousands of farmers who now own in Cuba their land either individually or in cooperatives, in order to reinstate the landowners’ system. That would also imply evicting millions of Cuban proprietors from their homes in order to return their properties or plots of land to their former claimants.
President Bush described it as an accelerated process and under the complete control of the US Government – which, for those purposes, would set up the so-called Commission for the Restitution of Property Rights.
Another structure would also be put in place, the Permanent Committee of the US Government for Cuba’s Economic Reconstruction, which would run the process of implementing in Cuba a very harsh neoliberal adjustment program, including the unbridled privatization of education and health services and the elimination of social security and welfare. Retirements and pensions would be removed and retirees would be offered the chance to do construction work as part of a so-called Body of Cuban Retirees.
President Bush recognizes in his plan that “it will not be easy” to apply this plan in Cuba. Therefore, he instructs the State Department to create a repressive apparatus “as an immediate priority,” which we imagine will be trained in the brutal techniques of asphyxiation that Vice-President Cheney does not consider as torture, in order to stifle the unrelenting endurance of the Cuban people. It is even recognized that “there will be a long” list of Cubans to be persecuted, tortured and massacred.
In the plan, they are even thinking of a Central Child Adoption Center to hand over to families in the United States and in other countries the children whose parents will lay down their lives fighting or become victims of repression.
All this cynical and brutal recolonization program for a country, after destroying and invading it, would be run by a character who has already been appointed and whose ridiculous post, reminiscent of Paul Bremer, is “Cuba Transition Coordinator.” A man named Caleb McCarry, whose only record of note is his close friendship with the terrorist groups of Cuban origin that are still masterminding and executing from Miami, with complete impunity, new assassination plots and acts of sabotage against Cuba. These are the same groups that are asking President Bush to release terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, the brains behind the explosion of a Cuban commercial airplane, while five courageous Cuban anti-terrorist fighters have been subjected to a ruthless and prolonged imprisonment in the United States since 1998.
Two years after its enactment, delegates, most of the plan has already been implemented.
Thus, new and greater restrictions were imposed on the family-related visits to Cuba by the Cuban residents in the United States.
The Americans who traveled to Cuba were viciously persecuted. In the course of the last two years, more than 800 people have been fined for traveling to our country.
Additional constraints were imposed on the sending of remittances to Cuba.
Academic, cultural, scientific and sports exchanges have been virtually eliminated.
Since 2004, 85 companies have been penalized for allegedly violating the blockade against Cuba.
The fierce persecution against our country’s financial transactions and trade has been further intensified. And there are tangible results of the demented worldwide tracking conducted by the so-called Group for the Identification of Cuban Assets on everything that appears to be a payment from and towards Cuba.
Along with the strengthening of the blockade, in May 2004 President Bush approved another US$ 59 million to pay his scarce and disheartened mercenaries in Cuba with a view to fabricating a non-existing internal opposition and defraying propaganda campaigns and illegal radio and television broadcasts against Cuba.
But it was all in vain. President Bush realized that time was running out and he could not keep his promise to the extremist Cuban groups in Florida. His domestic and foreign woes were growing and are still growing and socialist Cuba was still there, upright and unrelenting.
Then, on 10 July 2006, President Bush added new measures to his plan.
A significant aspect of this new 93-page concoction is that it contains a secret annex, with actions against Cuba that are not made public and which, as they explain, would not be revealed “in order to achieve their effective realization” and “for national security reasons.”
Will these be new assassination plots against Cuban leaders, more terrorist acts, a military aggression? From this rostrum at the UN General Assembly, we challenge President George W. Bush today to publicly disclose the content of that document, which until today he has not been bold enough to reveal.
The plan includes the allocation of more money, of course. This time around, it is US$ 80 million in two years and no less than US$ 20 million per year until the Cuban Revolution is defeated. In other words, forever.
There is also an increase in the radio and television broadcasts against Cuba, overtly violating the standards of the International Telecommunications Union.
On the other hand, renewed efforts are being made to create a so-called “coalition” of countries to support the alleged “regime change” in Cuba.
The Bush plan is particularly emphatic on the extraterritorial implementation of the economic war against Cuba.
Thus, new mechanisms are established to improve the machinery that enforces the blockade regulations and new sanctions are being adopted. One that stands out for its novelty is the prosecution against the violators.
Under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the authorization has been announced to file lawsuits in US courts against the foreign investors in Cuba, particularly those from those countries supporting the continuity of the Cuban Revolution.
A more stringent enforcement of Title IV is also envisaged, denying entry into the US to the investors in Cuba and to their families, but aiming the persecution particularly at those investing in oil prospecting and extraction, tourism, nickel, rum and tobacco.
As a tool to track down the sales of Cuban nickel to other markets – not to the American market, but to track down the Cuban sales to companies based in the countries that you represent here in this Assembly – the so-called “Cuban Nickel Inter-Agency Task Force” was created.
Also tightened is the siege on the exchange between American and Cuban churches – and there is a ban on humanitarian donations sent to Cuban religious organizations.
But there is a new blockade measure approved by President Bush that deserves to be elaborated on. The document sets forth that the US will deny all exports of medical equipment that can be used in healthcare programs for foreign patients.
That is, the US Government, which has always gone out of its way to cause the failure of the international medical cooperation programs that Cuba is implementing, now recognizes that its persecution can even get to the point of trying to hamper Cuba’s purchase of the necessary equipment around the world.
I insist on the fact that the blockade has now come to the point of prohibiting the exchanges between churches of the US and Cuban churches; of prohibiting the churches in the US from sending to friendly churches in Cuba humanitarian donations, wheelchairs, medicines or products for humanitarian use. The blockade of President Bush against Cuba even gets to the point of a declaration of war on the US and Cuban churches. It even tries to blockade God’s mandate. And, secondly, it tries to prevent Cuba’s purchase of medical equipment for international medical cooperation programs.
Some background information on this issue is essential:
- Since 1962, the year in which Cuban doctors rendered assistance abroad for the first time, in Algeria, nearly 132,000 Cuban doctors, nurses and health technicians have offered services in 102 countries.
- At present, some 31,000 Cuban health cooperators are rendering services in 69 countries. Of those, 20,000 are medical doctors. There are currently 31,000 Cuban health workers rendering assistance in 69 countries, in many of the countries that some of you represent here.
- Delegates: A medical brigade specialized in catastrophes and emergency situations was founded on 19 September 2005, right in the midst of the scourge visited upon 2 million poor and black people in the South of the United States, compounded by Hurricane Katrina and the government’s irresponsibility and insensitivity. It is composed of 10,000 members duly trained and equipped – and it has been named after a young American, Henry Reeve, who gloriously laid down his life in 1873 in Cuba’s countryside, bearing the rank of General of our Liberation Army. At that moment, more than 1,500 Cuban doctors were ready to leave for the most ravaged areas and save who knows how many lives, which were lost after President Bush’s refusal to receive them.
- A total of 2,564 members of this brigade worked in Pakistan for eight months in the wake of the earthquake. They set up 32 field hospitals that were later on donated to that brotherly nation. They looked after 1.8 million patients and saved 2,086 lives. Afterwards, another 135 Cuban physicians rendered assistance in Indonesia and set up two field hospitals, which were also donated. They looked after 91,000 patients and performed 1,900 surgeries.
- Cuban doctors had previously worked in disaster areas, such as Peru in 1970, Venezuela in 1999, Sri Lanka and Indonesia in 2004 and Guatemala in 2005, just to mention a few examples.
If President Bush succeeded in his cynical plan, Cuba would be prevented from offering to other peoples, many of which you represent here, delegates, its modest and generous effort in a field where nobody questions our development and experience.
- Since 2004, Cuba has been implementing Operation Miracle, through which nearly 400,000 patients from 28 countries, not including some 100,000 Cubans, have been operated on free of charge and have recovered their eyesight. Although our country alone could not defray all of the relevant expenses, today the Cuban doctors, the technicians, the technology and the equipment have laid the groundwork to operate on a million Latin American and Caribbean people every year.
If the American offensive managed to curtail this endeavor, an equivalent number of people suffering from more than 20 eye diseases would lose their eyesight. The US Government knows it, but it does not give up on its morbid plan to stifle Cuba. This is just to mention those whose eyesight is taken care of and not the hundreds of millions of people benefiting from the comprehensive healthcare programs conducted by the Cuban internationalist doctors.
Cuba is not only rendering medical services. It is currently providing medical training to more than 46,000 youths from 82 nations of the Third World in Cuba or in their own countries.
Madame President, delegates: But Cuba will not surrender, nor will it falter in fostering these humane plans, symbolic of a possible world of peace, justice and cooperation. Cuba’s commitment to the rights of all the dispossessed on the planet is stronger than the hatred of the executioners.
Millions of Cubans are now awaiting the decision that you will make. Today, we ask you to support the respect for Cuba’s right, which is also the respect for the rights of the peoples that you represent. We 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.”
We do so with our heads up high, optimistic and confident, with the hope of repeating the verses of the poet of our generation, because in Cuba, delegates,
Nobody is going to die
All of our life is our good-luck charm;
It is our cloak.
Nobody is going to die
Let alone now that the anthem of the Homeland is our anthem.
And if they impose a war on us, there will not be enough soldiers in the United States to cover the casualties that they would endure in a country that has resisted and has gotten ready for its defense for more than 45 years.
Up to here is the statement that I had prepared to present our draft resolution. However, an unheard-of incident in this Assembly compels me to add a few remarks. For the first time ever since in 1992 the Assembly started to consider the issue of the blockade against Cuba, the US Government will try to sabotage this vote through an amendment.
After several weeks exerting brutal pressures, the United States realized that it could not reverse the overwhelming support generated by this draft resolution. Then, it attempted to talk a large number of delegations into abstaining and it failed. Later on, it threatened and blackmailed others to walk out and it failed again.
And, finally, it decided to boycott this vote, divert attention from the main issue, which is its blockade on Cuba, a flagrant violation of International Law, and decreed that the Australian delegation present the draft amendment prepared in Washington.
Here I have, delegates, the talking points distributed by the United States since Monday 6th, asking support for an amendment that Australia only made its own yesterday, Tuesday 7th, in the afternoon. It is funny that the US delegation on this paper was summoning support for an amendment that Australia had not even decided to present. The United States tried to get one EU country to present it, but it did not succeed. It sought support in other countries and it could not muster it either. Finally, a very high-level call from Washington to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia determined that these would lend themselves as lackeys of the US amendment.
Is this amendment, delegates, a real expression of a genuine concern by Australia? No, it is not. It is just indicative of its abject submission to the US Government.
But, besides, Australia does not have the moral authority to attempt to refer to the human rights situation in Cuba.
The Australian Government is an accomplice to the US imperialism. It is some sort of “pocket imperialism” always ready in the Pacific to follow its Washington mentors. Thus, not only did it cooperate with and send troops along with the US Army to the war in Vietnam, in which four million Vietnamese lost their lives, but it also participated enthusiastically with over 2,000 soldiers in the invasion of Iraq, an absolutely illegal “pre-emptive” war. Still today, some 1,300 Australian soldiers are on the ground even though a mere 22% of the Australian population supports this adventure.
The Australian Government, which subjects the country’s aboriginal population to a real apartheid regime, does not have the morale to criticize Cuba. The Australian Government, which supports the torture center that the United States maintains in Guantánamo, and which supported the summary trials in military tribunals against the prisoners that were harassed and tortured there, including Australian prisoners, does not have the morale to criticize Cuba.
Let alone the United States. We all saw the heinous images from the Abu Ghraib prison, the heinous images of Guantánamo. We know that they organized and still keep clandestine prisons and secret flights on which they carried drugged and handcuffed prisoners.
We saw the horrendous images of Hurricane Katrina, when human beings were doomed to die for being black and poor. After everything we know, this Assembly cannot be deceived or manipulated.
Therefore, on behalf of Cuba, we ask you, delegates, to vote first in favor of the No-Action Motion that we will present in order to prevent the diverting scheme that they are trying to pursue with the amendment proposed by Australia and, later, to vote in favor of draft resolution L.10 presented by Cuba.
The US delegate has invoked in this Assembly the sacred name of José Martí, the Apostle of Cuba’s Independence, during his statement, thus tarnishing such glorious name for the Cubans; the name of the man who said that the independence war that he was organizing in Cuba was aimed at the timely prevention of the strong expansion of the United States of America over the Antilles. He outrages our delegation by invoking the name of José Martí to justify the blockade.
But I would like to remind this Assembly and the US delegation in particular that José Martí also said that “trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stones” and those trenches of ideas are the ones that make the noble, generous and heroic nation that I represent here invincible.
Thank you very much (Ovation).