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Posted November 13, 2003 by publisher in US Embargo

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Terrie Albano | People’s Weekly World Newspaper
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque delivered a blistering speech to the United Nation General Assembly Nov. 4 calling for the end of the U.S.-imposed embargo against the socialist nation. He received an ovation from the delegates, who then voted 179-3, with two abstentions, in favor of ending the embargo of Cuba.

The vote was further proof of the failure of the Bush administration’s foreign policies, which have resulted in international isolation and distrust.

Roque rebutted the Bush administration’s arguments in support of the blockade point-by-point, branding it as an act of war that is genocidal in its intention of inflicting hunger and privation on the 11 million people of Cuba.

“The economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba must be lifted. The blockade against Cuba qualifies, in conformity with the 1948 Geneva Convention, as a crime of genocide,” he said.

Roque continued, “The blockade violates the United Nations Charter. It prevents international trade and curtails free navigation. It gets to the point of penalizing the businesspeople from other countries who invest in Cuba.”

Roque challenged the arrogant tone of the speech by U.S. representative Sichan Siv, who trotted out Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator line. Siv had earlier said, “Cuba’s best day is when the Cuban people have terminated Castro’s evil Communist dictatorial regime and said to him, Hasta la vista, baby.’”

Roque replied, “Never have such disrespectful words been heard in this Assembly. Cuba accepts that there may be differences of opinion, different viewpoints, different ideologies; but it believes that there must be a minimum of respect towards the delegates and the countries represented here.” Roque added, “It is the people of Cuba, with the support of the international community, who will say, Hasta la vista, blockade; hasta la vista, genocide.’”

Roque accused the U.S. representative of uttering 15 lies in his speech, among them that the blockade was in response to Cuba nationalizing industries without compensation. “Lies! The Cuban nationalization laws established compensation, and, in fact, this compensation was accepted by all foreign owners in Cuba, including Europeans, Canadians and Latin Americans, everyone except for citizens of the United States, whose government prohibited them from accepting compensation.”

He charged that the embargo causes the Cuban economy to lose $1.6 billion a year. In addition, Cuba faces destabilization through aggression, invasion and assassination plots. Roque said the blockade is the “greatest obstacle” to Cuban socio-economic development.

Roque said although Cuba is a poor country, it pays its debts. It also provides medical care to each Cuban citizen, “unlike the United States, where there are 44 million people who have no right to health care services.”

He pointed out that despite U.S. claims of allowing its citizens to visit Cuba, “A large number of them had to violate the laws of the United States itself to [travel].” He then asked, “[I]f the U.S. government is not afraid of them coming [to Cuba], then why doesn’t it allow them to travel? Why are there more than 2,000 U.S. citizens currently facing legal proceedings for this very reason?” He told the story of a 74-year-old grandmother, Joan Slote, who was fined $8,500 for traveling to Cuba.

Roque called the blockade detrimental “to the rights of the American people, the rights of the Cubans who live in the United States and the rights of those nationals from other countries who wish to trade with and invest freely in Cuba.” The blockade serves the narrow interests of a far-right alliance of forces, he said.

“I am not saying a single word here against the people of the United States; we consider them our friends. We believe that the people of the United States are also victims, like us, of their government’s cruel and senseless policy. I do not blame the people, I blame their government, which subordinates its policy towards Cuba to the corrupt interests of a minority of Cuban-born mobsters living in the city of Miami,” he said.

Even among the Cuban emigres in the U.S., Roque said, “a growing mass increasingly less silent and more active objects to this policy that curtails normal relations with their families and with Cuba.” Roque called on the U.S. to repeal the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts, which penalize other countries that trade with Cuba and undermine Cuban sovereignty. Roque also called for freedom for Cuba to export its products to the U.S., including seafood, vaccines and biotech items, and to allow Cuba to import U.S. products, “with the exception of weapons in which we are not interested.”

Roque called for the “free exchange of ideas” between the U.S. and Cuba. The Bush administration has refused visas to Cuban scientists, athletes and artists, including Cuban musicians who won Grammy awards.

He called on the U.S. to allow the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to grant credits to Cuba, and to allow U.S. banks to make loans to the island.

Roque also called on the U.S. government to stop supporting the Bacardi company in the trademark and patent conflict with Cuba and called on it to prevent the theft of the Havana Club rum brand name. He also called for a return of Cuban money currently frozen in U.S. banks; returning the territory held by the Guantanamo Naval Base; repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act; and cooperation to eliminate human smuggling.

Lastly, Roque called for the release of the “five young Cubans who are unjustly imprisoned” in U.S. prisons for working to block right-wing terrorism emanating from Miami, and prosecution of those guilty of committing terrorist acts against the island.

“In brief, the United States must cease its aggression against Cuba. It must recognize Cuba’s right to its self-determination. It must allow the Cubans to live in peace. It must recognize that Cuba is a free and independent country.”

Quoting George W. Bush who said, “Cuba is not going to change by its own choice,” Roque said, “He is mistaken. Cuba changes every day. There is no more profound and permanent change than a Revolution. It will change, yes, but increasingly towards more Revolution and Socialism. Towards more equality, more justice, more freedom and more solidarity.”

The author can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The People’s Weekly World is the newspaper of the Communist Party, USA reporting on and analyzing the pressing issues of the day: peace, social and economic justice, workers’ rights, civil liberties, reproductive rights, protection of the environment, and more.

The PWW is the direct descendant of the Daily Worker and has been in the battles of the U.S. working class and people’s movements since the first issue of the Daily Worker came off the press in 1924.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on July 20, 2004 by Douglas

    It’ funny, but I just realized something that I haven’t realized before the laws were enacted. Isn’t there a law in the United States that state that you can’t make a new law after you committed the crime? I thought about this after me and my family paid for the visas to even go to Cuba before the laws were made or announced. Wouldn’t that go against the laws of the United States since we’ve paid our money, and now had to lose that money because the laws were made after we paid?
    Another thing to I found very interesting. Click this link and see for yourself. I think it would really open your eyes to what really is going on, and who is on who’ side.

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