Archive for October, 2010

Another visit with Gerardo Hernandez

October 31, 2010

– By Danny Glover and Saul Landau ( progresoweekly )
We sat in the waiting room with eight other people, all black or Latino, while prison authorities “counted” — presumably — the prisoners. An hour and a half later we went through the “screening” machine while our shoes got x rayed — the airport has moved to the prison; or was it vice versa?
A guard put an invisible stamp on our wrist; a heavy metal door opened electronically and we entered another room where a guard with a hand-held machine read the invisible stamp with some sci-fi machine. Another massive portal opened as if by dint of fairy magic and a guard barked orders to wait in the open-air passageway between the entrance building and the prison visiting room.
Inside, the well lit — no passing secrets or contraband — visiting room we went and a guard pointed to one of many small, cheap plastic tables with three plastic chairs — amidst the other plastic accommodations in the room. Inmates and families conversed. We waited. After 10 minutes, Gerardo Hernandez appeared, hugged Danny and thanked him for making the You Tube video (look it up) explaining the case of the Cuban five.
Then he hugged Saul who said he’d just returned from Cuba and brought greetings from people who knew him
“How are people responding to the new reforms?” he wanted to know, referring to the economic changes – re-opening some of the private sector shut down by the 1968 “revolutionary offensive” and partially reopened in the mid-1990s, and to the massive layoff (500,000) of “superfluous” state workers as Raul Castro called them.
Saul reported people seemed anxious, but also dealing with the new reality. Gerardo nodded. “It was necessary,” he opined.
He had read newspapers and watched TV news related to next week’s election. “Will the Democrats lose one House or both?” he asked.
We didn’t know. Danny and Saul had watched CNN in the airport waiting room before we boarded the plane to go to Southern California and heard Wolf Blitzer and the other CNN “anchors” vie for fast-talk-say-nothing medals. We remarked on how cable news needs to create conflict (news?) 24/7 as its life’s blood. If no issue exists, create one. But crises arise. Sometimes even Lindsay Lohan and Wynona Rider don’t get caught taking drugs or shop lifting and CNN has to create conflict between gay former army officers and members of Obama’s staff over “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” This was part of CNN’s “election coverage.”
The prison authorities deny Gerardo access to email or computers, although convicted murderers and rapists don’t have those restrictions. He is able to talk to his wife on the phone. “Imagine, I can’t even send her an email,” he laughed sardonically.
Gerardo also can’t email his lawyers who recently filed a new appeal focusing on government documents showing payments made to Miami-area journalists who wrote articles designed to make the already “pervasive community prejudice” worse so that a Miami trial would become an impossible venue for Gerardo and his four mates to get a fair trial.
One Miami-based journalist, Pablo Alfonso, received $58,600 during the Five’s detention and trial period, but he only wrote 16 damaging articles [while he worked for El Nuevo Herald, Miami’s most important newspaper in Spanish].  Other government-paid journalists did negative TV and radio shows about the five men who had admitted their mission involved spying – but not on the U.S. government. Gerardo explained that Cuban Intelligence sent the men to Miami to penetrate violent exile groups who had planted more than a dozen bombs in one year (1997) in Cuban tourist sites.
The FBI did not arrest the bomb plotters, but rather grabbed the very people who had furnished the Bureau with evidence of terrorist activities based in South Florida.
A May 2005 United Nation’s Human Rights Commission concluded the original trial “did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality” required for fair trials. The Commission’s report called for a new trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a previous appeal from the Five. But now, in addition to the bribing of journalists, appeal lawyer Leonard Weinglass has found the prosecutors had “withheld evidence that would have demonstrated [Gerardo’s] innocence.” Indeed, the government, Weinglass says, withheld  “satellite imagery which would have shown that the shoot down on Feb. 24, 1996, occurred in Cuban airspace and not in international airspace. The key agency of the United States government which maintains satellite data has, up to now, refused to admit or deny that they are holding such data.”
On that day, three Brothers to the Rescue airplanes flew into Cuban air space after receiving multiple warnings not to do so. Cuban MIGs shot down 2 of the planes, killing pilots and co-pilots. This fact, reasoned Weinglass, would have given the Five and the MIG pilots a clear-cut defense to the charge of conspiracy to commit murder. (Radio interview with Bernie Dwyer http://www.thecuban5.org/BDInterview.html)
Ironically, the government never established Gerardo’s connection to the shoot down.  They showed a communication commending him for his role in “the operation.” But Gerardo explained, “the operation” related to his helping another agent leave the country, not the shoot down. “They had other documents they didn’t show to the defense that would have shown I knew nothing about the events that day.” Weinglass included this in his new appeal.
Gerardo asked Danny about meeting his wife, Adriana, in Paris. Danny told him about the emotional encounter and Gerardo’s face lit up.
An inmate took photos of us. We said good-bye. Gerardo gave us the “keep the faith” fist in the air. We waved, left and began our drive south toward the Ontario airport passing the rows of unsold and empty houses in Victorville and the seemingly endless signs advertising chain stores and restaurants.
“Wow,” Danny said as he drove. “What an inspiring guy!”
Saul agreed. It was so worth the round trip, airport hassle, rent-a-car drive and wait in the prison – all the ugliness – to see how many inner resources one man could employ to keep his spirit high, and use them to inspire others.

Dominican Senators Reiterate Support of the Cuban Five

October 31, 2010

 (acn) A delegation from the Senate of the Dominican
Republic gave on Friday to the Cuban Parliament a copy of a resolution
demanding the immediate release of five Cuban antiterrorists who remain
unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998.
   The document was recently approved by an overwhelming majority of the
Dominican Senate and it urges US President Barack Obama to order the
release of Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio
Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez —internationally known as the Cuban Five—
who were arrested and given harsh sentences for monitoring anti-Cuba right
wing groups in South Florida that were planning and carrying out terrorist
actions against the island.
   The leader of the National Liberation Party (PLN) in the Dominican
Senate, Felix Maria Nova Paulino, expressed his gratitude for the respect
they have found in Cuba and praised Cuba’s contribution to his country and
the rest of Latin America.
   During the ceremony, the president of the Cuban Parliament, Ricardo
Alarcon, highlighted the importance of this gesture and noted that they
should multiply in order to make the US government do what it should do:
release the Cuban Five.
   Also present were the Dominican State Minister, Miguel Mejias; the
president o fthe Cuba-Dominican Republic Friendship Group in the Cuban
Parliament, Fernando Vecino Alegret; and the first vice president of the
Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP), Enrique Roman.

Cuba-Norway Agreement Signed in Havana to Help Haiti

October 31, 2010

 (acn) Cuba and Norway signed in this capital a second cooperation
agreement to contribute to alleviate the situation faced by the Haitian people, worsened by
the cholera epidemic.
 With the purpose of giving continuity to the humanitarian aid offered following the January
12 earthquake, the Nordic country signed a donation equivalent to 850,000 dollars for the
purchasing and transport of medical resources and other consumables to Haiti, through the
Cuban Public Health Ministry.
  This is the second agreement of this kind, for the same amount. The first one was signed in
January, a few days after the devastating earthquake, which resulted in 50,000 deaths and
250,000 people being injured, according to data provided by Haitian Health Minister Alex
Larsen.
  The agreement was signed in the Cuban capital at the Ministry of Foreign Trade and
Investment by deputy minister Ramon Ripoll and Norwegian ambassador to Havana Jan Tore Holvik.
  Haitian health authorities confirmed on Friday that the figure of people who have died as a
consequence of cholera has risen to 330, a disease present in part of the country, while it’s
already affecting some 4,714 people, the Spanish EFE news agency reported.
  Lorenzo Somarriba, head of the Cuban Medical Mission in Haiti, asserted in Tuesday, by way
of a telephone contact with the Telesur television network, that there are some 855 Cuban
physicians, nurses and health experts working in 125 units of the Haitian Health Ministry.
   Cuba has offered all the necessary medical assistance, declared Haitian President Rene
Preval, cited by Radio Havana Cuba.
  During a visit to the Community Reference Hospital of Mirebaleis on Tuesday, the Haitian
head of state expressed his appreciation for the attitude of Cuban physicians.

Terrorist honored at the U of M, academics express outrage to Shalala

October 30, 2010

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Honorable Donna E. Shalala,
President
University of Miami

Dear President Shalala,

We, U.S. academics and University of Miami alumni, are writing to you to convey our outrage at an event held on October12th of 2010 at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICAAS) of the University of Miami. This event included an homage to convicted terrorist Orlando Bosch.
Orlando Bosch has been arrested, tried and convicted for innumerable terrorist acts in Venezuela, the United States and other countries. In 1968, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for firing a bazooka against a Polish ship anchored in Miami. He served 10 years in jail in Venezuela for bombing a Cuban airplane and killing 73 people on board on October 6 of 1976. U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh referred to him as an “unrepentant terrorist”, while Acting Associate Attorney General Joe D. Whitley considered him a “threat to National Security”, both under George H. W. Bush administration (Exclusion Proceeding for Orlando Bosch Avila; see attached documentation).
CIA and FBI recently declassified documents (accessible online) offer solid proof for the Attorneys’ points. For example, a 1979 document reported Bosch’s view on the plane bombing when he said: “At times you cannot avoid hurting innocent people” [Appendix to Hearings]). An October 14, 1976 FBI cable reports Luis Posada Carriles (Bosch’s partner in crime) saying that “Orlando knew all the details” of the soon-to-be hit plane (Intelligence Information Cable).
We urge you to launch an inquiry into the homage paid to this man, to which the University of Miami lent its name and its banner, thereby becoming a sponsor. The University of Miami, as an institution of higher learning, has an educational mission and a social responsibility. Certainly, promoting a terrorist as a community role model goes against everything that academia stands for.

María Isabel Alfonso, PhD. Assistant Professor of Spanish. St. Joseph’s College, New York. (University of Miami Alumnus).
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Retired. MIT.
Luis Duno-Gottberg, PhD. Associate Professor of Caribbean and Film Studies, Duncan College Master, Texas.
John Walton Cotman, PhD. Associate Professor of Political Science. Howard University, Washington
David Carlson, PhD. Assistant Professor of Latin American History. The University of Texas-Pan American, Texas.
Rick Miller, PhD. Associate Professor of Art. St. Joseph’s College, New York
Lisa Glidden, PhD. Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics, Latin American Studies. SUNY College at Oswego, New York
Iraida H. Lopez, Ph.D. Professor of Spanish. Ramapo College of New Jersey, New Jersey
Arturo Lopez-Levy, Lecturer. PhD Candidate. Josef Korbel School of International Studies. University of Denver, Colorado.
Kenneth E. Bauzon, Ph.D. Professor of Political Science. St. Joseph’s College, New York
Emilio Bejel, Distinguished Professor of Latin American Studies. University of California at Davis, California
Miren Uriarte, PhD. Professor of Human Services. University of Massachusetts Boston
David L. Strug, PhD. Professor of Social Work. Yeshiva University, New York
Dionisio Márquez Arreaza, Professor. Universidad de Los Andes, Mérida, Venezuela (University of Miami Alumnus)
Judith A. Weiss. Research Professor and Professor Emerita. Mount Allison University, Canada
Liliam Dominguez, PhD Candidate. Barry University, Florida. (University of Miami Alumnus).
Mirella Landriscina, PhD. Professor of Sociology. St. Joseph’s College, New York
Douglas Friedman, PhD. Associate Professor of Political Science. College of Charleston, South Carolina
Samuel Farber. Samuel Farber. Professor Emeritus, Political Science. Brooklyn College of CUNY, New York
Dick Cluster, Associate Director. University Honors Program. University of Massachusetts at Boston
Fernando Coronil. Presidential Professor. Graduate Center. CUNY, NY.
Zoya Kocur, PhD Candidate. Middlesex University. London. NYU, New York, NY.
William Van Norman, Jr. PhD. Assistant Professor of Latin American History. James Madison University, Virginia
Alejandro de la Fuente, PhD. UCIS Research Professor. University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Antoinette Hertel, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Spanish. St. Joseph’s College, New York
Susan Eckstein, PhD. Professor of Sociology and International Relations. Boston University, Massachusetts
Tania Triana, PhD. Assistant Professor of Spanish, University of Oregon
Ana M. López, PhD. Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs. Tulane University, Louisiana
Eduardo González, PhD. Professor. Director of the Spanish and Latin American Subdivision. The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Trevor H Whitbread. M.A. Spanish Candidate. University of Oregon
Francisco A. Scarano, Ph.D. Professor of History. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin
Antonio Lauria-Perricelli, PhD. Adjunct Professor. Gallatin School, New York University, New York
Enrique Sacerio-Gari, PhD. Dorothy Nepper Marshall Professor of Hispanic and Hispanic-American Studies. Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania
Antonia Darder, PhD. Distinguished Professor of Education. University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, Illinois.
Edwin Murillo, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Spanish. Penn State University-Berks, Pensylvannia (University of Miami Alumnus)
Beatriz Calvo Peña. PhD. Researcher. University Carlos III, Madrid. (University of Miami Alumni)
Julie Skurski, Ph.D. Distinguished Lecturer of Anthropology. CUNY Graduate Center. New York
Leslie S. Offutt, PhD. Associate Professor and Chair, Department of History. Vassar College, New York.
David J. Vázquez, PhD. Assistant Professor of English. University of Oregon, Oregon
Ricardo Pérez, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Anthropology. Eastern Connecticut State University, Connecticut

Note: The signatories of this letter are from academia and do not necessarily share similar opinions on the political system in Cuba, the United States policy of embargo or other U.S.-Cuba related issues. However, they all agree on the fact that terrorism should be condemned, regardless the ideologies or politics that motivate it.
Documents in the order they were cited:
* Exclusion of Proceeding for Orlando Bosch Avila. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of the Associate Attorney General Joe D. Whitley, 1989. FILE: A28 851 622. A11 861 810.
* Appendix to Hearings Before the Select Committee on Assassinations of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-fifth Congress. Second Session, Volume X: Anti-Castro activities and organizations. March 1979: (89-93)
Intelligence Information Cable. FBI. October 14th, 1976. National Security Archives. Cuba Project.
CIA and FBI Declassified Documents on Cuba: National Security Archive. Cuba Project

Varela, your comments and bully cops

October 30, 2010

By Alvaro F. Fernandez – progresoweekly.com
I am amazed at how spiritually shallow Miami can be. Without a doubt the past week’s most important news, as far as the Progreso Weekly family is concerned, was the battering received by our columnist Jose Varela at the hands of police from the Miami area. What bothered me most was the reaction from some of our readers. The hatred became so personal, the language so vile, I opted to shut down the comments section in our Spanish edition for several days.
You’ll notice it’s back up. Our readers can again participate in our magazine. There are new rules, though.
Every comment will now be read beforehand. Yes it’s more work, but even before the sad events of last week, the comments section in Progreso Semanal had gotten out of hand. Now every comment will be received, each will be read, and finally approved before it is published. So if you don’t see your commentary appear immediately, don’t fret, sooner or later it will show up.
Unless… if the comment you submit is slathered with filthy language; if the attacks are personal and directed at someone’s family, or just humanly degrading in any form, you will NOT see it published. It’s simple as that.
And let me emphasize that this decision has nothing to do with whether you agree or disagree with us. The fact is we appreciate all intelligent commentary – for or against. At Progreso Weekly we find intelligent discussions healthy, helpful and at times, even enlightening. But the fact that you may disagree with our writers or our political thought does not give you the right to insult — grievously at times.
As for Varela, in my opinion he made a mistake confronting the police. I’ve had personal experiences with police officers. I’ve learned over the years that the best policy is to say, “Yes officer. No officer. Thank you officer.” But I believe Varela’s ego got in the way. And the results can be seen in the photographs. As for his family situation, that is between Varela, his wife and his children.
Still, it does not give any police officer or officers the right to pummel a human being in the way they went after Varela. Eyes shut, a broken nose, bruised ribs and who knows what else…
For years I’ve had an ongoing battle against a weapon used too freely at times by police – the taser guns they now carry: volts of electricity directed at a person, immediately paralyzing him or her, who appears out of hand and may represent a threat to a police officer.
The Miami media, in the past, has reported cases of taser-happy cops using the stun guns on children running (away) from cops and even on the very elderly. I’ve been critical of these cases.
But now I ask myself, if this man was out of control (punching a car) and the cop feared for his safety, even attacked (I don’t know), why did they not taser Varela instead of kicking the shit out of him? It may be one of the few times where I may have agreed with using a stun gun. But no… the cops decided to out macho a macho and beat the living crap out of him.
There’s something totally wrong with that picture.
Yes, Varela may be at fault. But it seems to me the cops are doubly guilty. They should know better.

Why exactly did the Cuban Jewish community need Alan Gross?

October 27, 2010

La Alborada

From reading the news in the US, one would think that, when it comes to information technology (IT), Cuba is a vast wasteland. One would also think that Cuban Jews are disconnected from the virtual world, and that it took a contracted and surreptitious US agent to help them download Jewish songs from Internet and to contact Jews abroad. One would not think that Gross could have been setting up, unknown to the Cuban government, a separate satellite transmission channel, or carrying out other activities that could be perceived as creating a secret communications channel to the US in support of USAID strategies.

A quick search on Internet leads to a site, The Jews of Cuba, that offers an overview of the Jewish communities in several cities of the island. We do not know how long that site has been up, but it lists several links and e-mail addresses.

Additional information can be found on sites apparently based in the U.S., the Cuba-America Jewish Mission, and Jewish Solidarity.

There is yet another website with a more modern look to it, La comunidad hebrea de Cuba, or the Cuban Jewish Community, with pages in both Spanish and English. The site lists a copyright of 2003.

It reads: “Welcome to the Cuban Jewish Community Website. This website was designed and produced at the Technological Training Center of the Havana Jewish Community.” A link to the “Work Team” shows the names and pictures of the team members, including Pablo Verbitsky, IT Engineer; William Miller, Telecommunications Engineer; Yosvany Carmenate, IT Engineer; and Houwer Friman, Designer.

Cuba does provide high-level instruction in IT. It is not a surprise to find Cuban Jews among the qualified graduates. Was Alan Gross necessary to design and set up the site? Indeed, the site lists other human resources and collaborators. Its home page notes that it is supported by World ORT. That organization can be found with a simple web search.

Its work is summarized as follows: “Welcome to the online home of World ORT, the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organisation. This year, through our network of schools, colleges, training centres and programmes in Israel, Russia, Argentina and many other countries worldwide, we will benefit more than 200,000 people –young and old, Jewish and non-Jewish.” A link to “Latin America” notes that ORT is supporting Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Cuba, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru and Panama.

The site earlier noted, for the Jewish Community of Cuba, names some other organizations that assist the community. These are, in addition to ORT: B’Nai Brith and the Cuban Jewish Relief Project; the Canadian Jewish Congress; the Joint Distribution Committee; and the United Jewish Committee. It notes that ORT has maintained a tech training program in Havana since 2000.

It does not appear that the Jewish community of Cuba, as relatively small as it is, lacks capable IT workers or contacts with organizations outside Cuba. It maintains websites that are not secret and obviously known to the Cuban government, including one that lists its supporters abroad.

Why was it necessary for USAID to contract DAI and in turn Alan Gross, under a “democracy building” program, to enter Cuba repeatedly without declaring his purposes?

It could be said that, no matter how capable the IT staff available within Cuba is, they still need better hardware and software. That is the case for Cubans in general, who face US laws that prohibit Cuba’s access to any IT produced in the US or by US companies. And it is true that Cuba’s access to Internet itself is also limited by the US. Gross’ activities could have been a way around the blockade that his own governmental employer imposes on all Cubans. Maybe the Cuban Jews needed special attention, in USAID’s view.

But why go the secret-agent route, when there are established international organizations that have been working with the Jewish community of Cuba for years? What exactly was Gross doing, and why was he doing it?

A clear and truthful statement from USAID, instead of the media fog that it and DAI have generated, would help to answer the question.

Reply by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez

October 27, 2010

 Reply by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, to the Representatives of the United States and the European Union respectively during the General Assembly session under the item “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.  New York, October 26, 2010.

Mr. President;

I highly appreciate the words expressed by the thirteen speakers and the presence of all the delegations attending this unexpected afternoon session.

Regarding what was said by the representatives of the United States and the European Union I have to say the following:

This is the nineteenth time that the US delegation repeats the same argument.  The blockade is an act of economic warfare and an act of genocide.

Hasn’t the State Department done its homework? Hasn’t it examined this issue?

Last year I read here the Articles of the relevant Conventions that apply in this case, and I will read them again:

“Article II: (…) In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts:

“(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

“(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

I already read here the Memorandum that was drafted by Mr. Mallory.

These are not “ideological arguments” of the past.  The blockade is an old
ice floe reminiscent of the Cold War. The point is not the rhetoric but the act of aggression against Cuba.

The purpose of the United States is not to support or assist the Cuban people.  It is known that the blockade causes hardships and sufferings.  It does not cause deaths because the Cuban Revolution prevents that from happening .  How could anybody explain the fact that Cuban children are punished in the way that has been described here? If there is really a will to support or assist the Cuban people, the only thing that needs to be done is to lift  the blockade immediately.

Why are American citizens forbidden to visit Cuba and receive first-hand  information? Why are there restrictions on the so called “people to people” contacts?

The pretexts used  to apply the blockade have been changing.  First it was our alleged participation in the Sino-Soviet axis; then the so-called export of the Revolution to Latin America; then the presence of Cuban troops in Africa that were to contribute to defeat the Apartheid regime, preserve the independence of Angola and attain the independence of Namibia.

Afterwards there was a manipulation of the human rights issue.  But the blockade is a brutal violation of the human rights of Cubans. We are ready to discuss about human rights violations.  We could begin speaking about the concentration camp in Guantanamo, where inmates are submitted to tortures  and there is no habeas corpus. That is the realm of “Military Commissions” outside the rule of law.  Could the US delegation explain what happened at the Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Nama camps?

Were the responsible indicted? Were the members of the European governments who authorized the creation of secret prisons in Europe and the secret renditions by the CIA indicted? Could the European Union representative shed more light on that issue?

We could speak about Wikileaks.  Why don’t they tell us something about the atrocities described in the more than 75 000 documents about the crimes in Afghanistan and in the 400 000 documents about Iraq?

What could they tell us about the extra-judicial executions announced by Bush in his famous State of the Union address of 2003 applauded by the US Congress? What has the present administration done with the responsible? Isn’t it so that the Special Operations Joint Command was dissolved? Were the executive orders and authorizations revoked or are they still in force? Is it true that the Chief of that Command, General McChrystal, reported directly to Vice-president Cheney?  We could also discuss about  brutal  violence using high technology that is called “counterinsurgency”.

The changes in Cuba are only incumbent to Cubans.  We will change everything that needs to be changed, for the benefit of Cubans, but we will not ask the US government’s opinion.  We freely chose our destiny.  That is why we made the Revolution.  Those  changes will be made in a sovereign way; they will not be “gestures”.  We know that the only thing the US would consider sufficient would be the establishment of a pro-Yankee government in Cuba; but that is not going to happen.

Does the United States want to see some progress in telecommunications? Let them lift the blockade measures which prevent us from doing business in that field; let them cease the outright theft of Cuban funds.  Let them eliminate the blockade measures that severely restrict the access of Cubans to the Internet.

Do they want to see cooperation between their universities and ours? Let them eliminate the  restrictions  on the exchange between academics, students, scientists as well as cultural exchanges; let them allow the signing of agreements  between those institutions.

Do they want to see cooperation against drug-trafficking, terrorism, traffic in persons, natural disasters and postal services? Let them respond at least the proposals that we presented to them over a year ago without any condition whatsoever.

The US government has changed, but the funding to the internal subversion in Cuba remains the same.

A USAID high official confirmed yesterday to the journalist Tracey Eaton that, during the last period, they have conveyed 15.6 million dollars to –and I quote- “individuals on the ground in Cuba”.  This is how they call their mercenaries.

Illegal radio and TV broadcasts remain the same.

The Five Cuban Antiterrorists continue serving an unjust imprisonment sentence. Recently and for no reason  Gerardo Hernández Nordelo was placed in solitary confinement and he was denied medical assistance.

Confessed international terrorists like Orlando Bosh and Posada Carriles are walking freely down the streets of Miami and even carrying out their political activities there.

We hold migration talks, but the political manipulation of migration continues through the implementation of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot/dry foot” policy.

Once again : It is absolutely not true that Cuba and the United States are “trading partners”.  The sale of agricultural products violate all standards and practices of international trade as well as the freedom of navigation.  There have been untruthful statements in this room about alleged NGO donations to Cuba worth 237 million dollars.

The blockade is abusively extraterritorial and affects all countries represented here.  It is not a bilateral issue.

Mr. President;

I have  very little to add to what was said by the representative of the European Union here.

The European Union has no moral or political authority whatsoever to make any criticism regarding human rights.

The EU would rather take care of its brutal anti-immigrant policy, the deportation of ethnic minority citizens, the violent repression against demonstrators and the increasing social exclusion of its unemployed and low-income sectors.

The European Parliament, in a shameless and infamous way, devotes itself to reward the US government paid stooges in Cuba.

Now it is said that the so called Common Position has been overcome.  We will see.  Facts will have the last say.  But the European Union is delusional when it thinks it could normalize relations with Cuba while the Common Position is still in place.

Thank you, very much.

Speech delivered by Bruno Rodríguez

October 27, 2010

Speech delivered by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla at the United Nations General Assembly under the Item “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. New York, October 26, 2010.

Mr. President;
Serious and imminent dangers threaten the existence of our species. In order to preserve human life we need to preserve peace. The use of only a negligible part of the world’s enormous nuclear arsenal will mean the end for the human species. The only guarantee that the nuclear weapons would not be used by any State or any individual would be their complete destruction, that should also include the entire generation of conventional weapons of a similar lethal power developed of late. Disarmament is the only solution.
In order to survive it is indispensable for humanity’s awareness to take a leap, which would only be possible through the dissemination of truthful information about these issues which are hidden or ignored by most politicians, not published by the press, and found by people so horrible that seem to be unbelievable.
We are living through a new era and, in our opinion, this General Assembly, as has been ceaselessly asked for by Fidel Castro, should lead, with utmost urgency, a world mobilization to demand respect for the right of all human beings and peoples to live.
Let us create a new world order; let us found a collective ethics based on human solidarity and justice; let us find a solution to conflicts through dialogue and cooperation. Let selfishness and plundering conducive to war and the use of force cease. In the face of a serious danger, let us rid ourselves of whatever pits us against each other or divide us and let’s get together to save peace, the planet and the life of future generations.

Mr. President;
Especially under the present circumstances, the US policy against Cuba is devoid of any ethical or legal grounds and lacks credibility and support. So it has been evidenced by the more of 180 votes cast at this United Nations General Assembly which during the last few years have been calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade.
In the Secretary-General’s report made available to us, more than 180 countries and specialized agencies of the United Nations system have documented their opposition to that policy.
Latin America and the Caribbean have vigorously and unanimously rejected such policy. The Summit of Unity held in Cancun in February 2010 resolutely stated the same. The leaders of the region have conveyed this feeling directly to the current US President. It could be assured that the express rejection against the blockade and the Helms-Burton Act, characterizes, as very few other items do, the political heritage of the region.
Equally unequivocal views have been endorsed by the Non-Aligned Countries Movement, the Ibero-American Summits, the European Union and Latin American and Caribbean Summits, the African Union, the ACP Group Summits and virtually any other group of nations abiding by International Law and the observance of the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.
There is a broad and growing consensus within the United States society and the Cuban emigration in that country against the blockade and in favor of a change of policy towards Cuba. According to recent polls, 71 per cent of American citizens favor the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, while 64 per cent of them and a similar percentage of Cuban residents in South Florida oppose the Cuba travel ban, which infringes upon their citizens’ rights.

Mr. President;
As it has happened with other issues, two years after President Obama pledged to seek “a new beginning with Cuba”, facts confirm that nothing has changed, nor has the President resorted to his ample prerogatives to relax the blockade.
The sanctions against Cuba remain intact and are fully implemented.
In the course of the year 2010, the economic siege has been tightened and its everyday impact continues to be visible in all aspects of life in Cuba. It has particularly serious consequences in areas so sensitive to the population such as health and food.
Cuban ophthalmologic services can not make use of the Transpupillary Thermotherapy, with the use of a surgical microscope, to treat children suffering from a tumor called retinoblastoma, that is, cancer of the retina, because it is impossible to buy the equipment required to apply this treatment, since they can only be bought from the US company Iris Medical Instruments. Without that technology it is impossible to treat retina tumors so that children could preserve the affected eye.
Cuban children have no access to a medicine called Sevofluorane, the most advanced general inhalation anesthetic drug, that is, an anesthetic to operate on children, because its manufacturer, the American company ABBOT, is not allowed to sell its products to Cuba.
Cuba cannot purchase either the Optical Coherence Tomographer (OCT) to examine the retina and the optical nerve, manufactured by the German company Carl Zeiss, because some of its components are provided for by the US company Humphrey.
The onerous and discriminatory conditions that dominate the purchase of American foodstuffs, which are allegedly covered by a humanitarian exemption, while all other international trade standards are violated, resulted in the dramatic reduction of these operations last year. This reality not only affects our people but also American farmers. It would be untruthful of anyone here in this room to describe once again as a “trading partner” a country to which Cuba can not sell a single dose of medicine or a single gram of nickel.
Although Washington has very selectively authorized some cultural, academic and scientific exchanges, these are still subject to severe restrictions; many of these projects could not materialize due to the denial of licenses, visas and other permits. It is hardly known that Cuban artists are forbidden to receive any payment for their performances in this country. The persecution against Cuban properties and assets as well as commercial and financial transfers to and from Cuba or those involving institutions or individuals based in our country has intensified.
The fines imposed by the Treasury and Justice Departments on American and European entities during the last year for their transactions with Cuba, among other States, have totaled more than 800 million dollars.
The US government, in an obvious escalation, has also appropriated the transfers made by Cuba in other countries’ currencies, as the Euro. The confiscation of a transfer of more than 107 thousand Euros that belonged to the Cuban company Cubana de Aviación, which was made through the Banco Popular Español from Madrid to Moscow, was an outright theft.
The direct economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the implementation of the blockade during the last 50 years is worth more than 751 billion dollars according to the present value of that currency.

Mr. President;
Despite the universal rejection against this policy, some high officials of the US government have reiterated that this policy will remain unchanged. On September 2 last, President Obama himself ratified the sanctions against Cuba, claiming it was within the US alleged “national interest”. However, everybody knows that the White House continues to pay more attention to the well-funded “special interests” of an exiguous minority that has turned the policy against Cuba into a very profitable business.
It is obvious that the United States has no intention whatsoever to lift the blockade. There is not even a sign showing that its government is willing to dismantle the most irrational aspects of what is already the most comprehensive and long-lasting set of sanctions and coercive measures ever applied against any country.
Traditionally, whenever the pretexts used as alleged obstacles to the lifting of the blockade against Cuba have crumbled, they have been replaced by new excuses to justify the continuation of a policy that is, from every angle, unsustainable.
According to several news agencies, very recently, on October 19, President Obama described all the processes that are currently taking place in Cuba as ‘insufficient’ and conditioned any new step by his government to the internal changes they would like to see in our country.
The President is wrong to believe he has the right to interfere and qualify the processes that are taking place in Cuba today. It is regrettable to realize he is so misinformed and ill-advised.
The transformations we have embarked upon today are a result of the aspirations of Cubans and the sovereign decisions adopted by our people. They are aimed at updating and increasing the efficiency of our economic model, perfecting our society, expanding our culture and developing our socialism. They are not intended to quench the desires or satisfy the interests of the US government, which until today have always been contrary to those of the Cuban people
The superpower will find any process that is not conducive to the establishment of a regime subordinated to its interest to be insufficient. But that is not going to happen because many generations of Cubans have offered and continue to offer the best of their lives to defend the sovereignty and independence of Cuba.
Besides, the US government has ignored the many declarations and proposals submitted by the Cuban government, both in public and in private, which ratify our willingness to establish a serious and constructive dialogue under conditions of equality and with full respect for our independence.
No response has been given to the new cooperation projects proposed by the Cuban government in the course of the year 2010, aimed at making progress in areas of common interest such as the combat against drug-trafficking, the protection of the environment, the prevention of natural disasters and even to cope with possible accidents that may derive from the oil exploitation in the Gulf of Mexico. An opportunity to advance in areas of mutual benefit for our peoples is once again missed.
Quite on the contrary, the US government has continued with its arbitrary practice of adding Cuba’s name to spurious lists, including the list of States that allegedly sponsor international terrorism, produced by the State Department to qualify the behavior of other nations. That country has no moral authority to draft such lists. As a rule it is its name that should appear at the top of them all. There is no reason whatsoever to include Cuba in any of those lists.
The US government likewise upholds the unjust conviction imposed on the Five Cuban Antiterrorists who have been imprisoned for more than twelve years in US prisons. Their cause has aroused the broadest solidarity within the international community.
Cuba, which has been and still is a victim of State terrorism, calls for that government to put an end to double standards and the impunity enjoyed in its own territory by the confessed authors of terrorist actions which were organized under the auspices of the anti-Cuban policy of that country that was conceived to destabilize our country during the 1960’s by resorting to sabotage, kidnapping, assassinations and armed aggressions. That will be a true contribution to the international combat against this scourge.

Mr. President;
It is both outrageous and surprising to realize that the blockade and subversion policy applied by the United States against Cuba continues to be guided by the logics contained in the memorandum drafted by the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Lester Mallory, on April 6, 1960 that was declassified a few years ago, which reads, and I quote:
“The majority of Cubans support Castro […] There is no effective political opposition […] The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support [from the government] is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.
Every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life […] denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation
and overthrow of government.” End of quote.
This is about a cruel and aggressive policy, absolutely contrary to International Law, that this government insists on maintaining knowing that it causes harm, hardships and violates the human rights of an entire people.
This is not a bilateral issue, as is commonly repeated by the US representatives. Its remarkable extraterritorial character has been endorsed by some laws and there are plenty of examples of the implementation of coercive measures against citizens and entities from third countries.
The blockade, given its own essence and scope, qualifies as an act of genocide under Article II of the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide adopted in 1948, and also as an act of economic warfare according to the Declaration concerning the Laws of Naval War adopted in 1909.
It is a hostile and unilateral act that should be ceased unilaterally.
Once again, on behalf of the people of Cuba, I ask the representatives of all the countries gathered here, to vote in favor of the draft resolution I am honored to present under the title “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

Mr. President;
We Cubans feel proud of our work. If this economic warfare, although causing hardships, has not taken a toll on human lives or managed to provoke generalized traumatic damage to our people, is because of the efforts and sacrifices made by Cubans and the willingness and determination of its government.
Although the economic harassment has been the main obstacle hindering the development of our country and the improvement of the living standards of our people, Cuba can show undeniable results in the eradication of poverty and hunger, in the fields of health and education -which have become a world referent-, the promotion of gender equality, freedom and equitable well-being for all Cubans, social consensus, democratic participation by all citizens in the country’s decisions, the reversal of environmental degradation and the development of international cooperation with a hundred countries of the Third World.
A few weeks ago Cuba was able to declare here it had largely and exceptionally complied with the Millennium Development Goals. These results achieved by Cuba are still a utopia for a large segment of people in this planet.
We Cubans face our historical destiny with optimism, commitment and creativity. We are inspired by the feelings of peace, justice and solidarity that have characterized our people and the friendship with which the world identifies itself with our free and rebellious Island.
Cuba will continue to be ready to establish peaceful and respectful relations with the United States, as it has with the overwhelming majority of the international community and the entire hemisphere.
Cuba will never cease to denounce the blockade; it will never cease to demand its people’s legitimate right to live and work for its social and economic development under conditions of equality, in cooperation with other nations, without any economic siege or external pressures.
Cuba conveys its gratitude to the international community for its firm solidarity with our people, convinced that, some day, justice will be served and this resolution will no longer be necessary.
Thank you, very much.

Speakers Denounce Use of ‘Cold-War Era Tools of Coercion’

October 27, 2010
 

26 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/11015

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

36th & 37th Meetings (AM & PM)

As Speakers Denounce Use of ‘Cold-War Era Tools of Coercion’, General Assembly

again Calls for End to United States Economic, Trade Embargo against Cuba

 

Despite Washington’s Two-Year Old Pledge to Open New Relations

With Cuba, Facts Confirm ‘Nothing Has Changed,’ Says Foreign Minister

Condemning nearly a half-century of sanctions against Cuba as a “policy in search of a justification”, General Assembly delegates today called for a swift, complete end to the United States economic, commercial and financial embargo against the island nation, which they said had crippled its development and whose justification was morally indefensible.

The Assembly — by a recorded vote of 187 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel), with 3 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau) — adopted a resolution for the nineteenth consecutive year, calling for an end to the embargo and reaffirming the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation as paramount to the conduct of international affairs.  (For details of the vote, see annex)

By the text, the Assembly expressed concern at the continued application of the 1996 “Helms-Burton Act” — which extended the embargo’s reach to countries trading with Cuba — and whose extraterritorial effects impacted both State sovereignty and the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction.  It reiterated the call on States to refrain from applying such measures, in line with their obligations under the United Nations Charter, urging those that had applied such laws to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible.

Throughout the day, delegates spoke out against the embargo as a longstanding example of the United States’ disregard for international opinion and international law.  Though they were bearing the brunt of the measures, ordinary Cubans were adapting to life under trying circumstances, they said, as new generations born into the embargo were taking on a huge responsibility that spoke to the quiet resilience of a population committed to survival.  It was time to set aside anachronistic, Cold War-era tools of coercion, they said, and allow Cuba to effectively contribute its fair share to global development.

“We are living in a new age,” said Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, introducing the resolution. Cubans living for over 50 years under the blockade had suffered $751 billion in damages in current dollars.  Fines imposed by the United States Treasury and Justice Department on American and European entities for their transactions with Cuba had reached more than $800 million.  Sanctions ratified last year spoke only to the strength of a well-funded minority that had turned opposition against Cuba into a profitable business.

He regretted that the United States President, who had called for a new era of engagement with Cuba at the beginning of his term, had subsequently been so poorly advised.  Indeed, changes underway in Cuba were responding to the sovereign decisions of its people and aimed to make Cuba’s economic model more efficient.  The United States had ignored Cuba’s proposals, submitted in public and in private, to open dialogue.  Nor had there been a response to new ideas for cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.  Despite that, Cuba was ready to establish respectful relations with the United States as it enjoyed with the majority of the international community.

However, the United States delegate, speaking ahead of the vote, said those charging that Washington’s sanctions were the cause of deprivation among Cubans should be reminded that the United States did not restrict humanitarian aid to Cuba and remained its largest food provider.  In agriculture alone, the United States had exported $526 million in goods to Cuba last year, when it was Cuba’s fifth-largest trade partner.

It was equally important that the United States was prepared to engage Cuba on issues affecting the security and well-being of its people, he said.  However, a new era in relations between the neighbours could not be realized until Cubans enjoyed the political and economic freedoms that the United Nations had fought to defend around the world.  It was high time for the Assembly to move beyond rhetorical posturing and support Cubans’ right to decide their own future.

Among the 17 delegations taking the floor after the vote, Belgium’s representative, on behalf of the European Union, explained his support for the text, saying that the Union could not accept that unilateral measures impeded its economic and commercial relations with Cuba.  Nonetheless, he called on Cuba to fully grant its citizens internationally recognized civil, political and economic rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and access to information.  Restrictions on rights undermined Cuban achievements in healthcare and education, while Cuba’s economic policy seriously hampered its own economic development.  He hoped recently announced economic reforms would address key concerns.

Rounding out the day, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reminded delegates that the resolution was not simply an annual ritualistic rite; it was a matter of life and death for 11.5 million Cubans.  He expressed hope there would be no need to gather next year to vote, yet again, on a similar text.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Yemen (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), Bahamas (on behalf of Caribbean Community), Brazil (on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Mexico, China, Venezuela, Iran, Algeria, South Africa, Indonesia, Solomon Islands, India, Russian Federation, Zambia, Gambia, Ghana and Barbados.

Speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of Nicaragua, Uruguay, Bolivia, Angola, Myanmar, Suriname, Belarus, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Viet Nam, Nigeria and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Speaking in exercise of his right of reply was the representative of Cuba.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 28 October, to consider the reports of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

Background

The General Assembly met today to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (A/65/83), which summarizes the responses of 134 Governments and 25 United Nations bodies, received as at 9 July 2010, following a request by the Secretary-General on that matter.  Replies received after that date will be reproduced in addenda to the present report.

In its 33-page submission to the report, the Cuban Government calls the embargo an act of “genocide”, as understood in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and an act of economic war under the terms of the Declaration concerning the laws of naval war, adopted by the Naval Conference of London in 1909.  “Not even the establishment of a new Democrat Administration in the United States of America, supposedly driven by a philosophy of change, has in fact led to any fundamental change in the embargo policy”, it states.

A “very conservative estimate” of the direct economic damage to Cubans since December 2009 due to the embargo amounted to $100.2 million at current prices, Cuba’s submission to the report says.  That figure would have hit $239.5 million if the calculation had been based on the Consumer Price Index inflation rate of the United States Bureau of Labour Statistics.  The embargo was an “absurd, illegal and morally unsustainable” policy that must be lifted unilaterally, without delay, and without the need for any gesture on Cuba’s part.

Per its tradition when it considers this item, the Assembly had before it a similarly titled draft resolution (document A/65/L.3) which would reaffirm the principles of the Charter, among others, the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs and freedom of international trade and navigation.  It would therefore have the Assembly express concern about the continued promulgation and application of laws and regulations, such as the 1996 “Helms-Burton Act”, the extraterritorial effects of which affect the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.

The resolution would reiterate the Assembly’s call on all States to refrain from promulgating and applying similar laws and unilateral trade measures of that kind, in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which, among other things, reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation.  The Assembly would again urge States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regime.

Statements

ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI ( Yemen), on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation had always been firmly against the embargo and would like to reiterate once again its long-standing position on that important matter.  The Group called upon the Government of the United States to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba which, in addition to being unilateral and contrary to the United Nations Charter and international law, as well as the principle of neighbourliness, caused huge material losses and economic damage to the people of Cuba.  At the Group’s most recent annual meeting, its Ministers for Foreign Affairs firmly rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impacts and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions against developing countries, and reiterated the urgent need to eliminate them immediately.

Such actions also severely threatened the freedom of trade and investment, and the international community should neither recognize those measures nor apply them.  Sadly, communications between Governments and the United Nations on the matter unequivocally showed that the embargo remained largely unchanged and continued to impose severe economic and financial restrictions on Cuba, he said.  The deepening impact of the global economic crisis on Cuba and the continued United States embargo would contribute to further aggravate the hardships for the people of Cuba.  He called on the United States to heed the increasing calls by the international community to bring an end to the five-decade-old embargo and fully adhere to principles of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs of a sisterly country.

The embargo frustrated efforts towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and negatively affected regional cooperation in that area, he said.  The peaceful co-existence among nations required an adherence by all to the cardinal principles of the Charter and the peaceful conduct or relations among nations.  The Group of 77 and China would again fully support the draft resolution against the embargo and urged all Member States to do so as well, he said.

MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to defend, uphold and promote the United Nations Charter and the international laws that constituted the very essence of the multilateralism designed work to maintain peace and security, achieve economic sustainability and assure human rights.  To that end, he renewed his commitment to Cuba, noting that it was disturbing that unilateral measures or laws continued to prevent countries from exercising their right to decide their own political system.  “We can only firmly reject such violations of multilateralism”, he said, and appealed to all States to recognize those efforts.

This year’s central theme of the Assembly’s work — reaffirm the central role of the United Nations — could only happen if all countries respected the rules of multilateralism in addition to sovereignty, good neighbourliness and mutual respect, he said.  The United States embargo against Cuba undoubtedly ran counter to those principles and raised many questions, particularly, how could a country raise barriers to one of its neighbours when it promoted free trade and export; and how could it impose limits on the rights of people to travel when it advocated freedom of movement.  Such contradictions were bewildering and must be promptly rectified, especially after some 187 Member States expressed there support last year by voting in favour of the resolution.

At a 2009 summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Ministers had adopted a declaration reflecting the Non-Aligned Movement’s position.  The evidence on the ground in Cuba was a stark reminder of what the embargo has done to the country.  The repercussions not only affected the banking, trade, tourism, and other industries, but had negatively impacted health, nutrition, water quality, education and culture.  In closing, he said the Non-aligned Movement reaffirmed its concerns and backed the argument in favour of prompt elimination of those unjustified sanctions.  Year after year, Assembly took actions to swiftly lift embargo against Cuba, however, “maintaining the embargo seems to be part of an era long gone”, he said.  The United States should match its statements about openness with actions welcomed by international community.  The Non-aligned Movement would continue to send that message to the United Nations.  In Spanish, he said: “End the blockade now”, and then, reverting to English, “This time our call will not go unheard”.

BRIAN G. BOWLER (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, added his voice to the call to end the United States embargo against Cuba, an issue that had been on the United Nations agenda for the last 18 years.  As chair of the African Union, he reiterated the decision of the fifteenth Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on 27 July, in Kampala, Uganda, calling on the United States to do just that.  In his address on 23 September, Malawi’s President also had stated categorically that sanctions had caused great economic hardship, especially to the poor and more vulnerable in targeted countries, including Cuba.

On behalf of the African Union, he challenged those concerned to promote social progress and better living standards, as set forth in the United Nations Charter.  “We, in Africa, believe that it is now time to give dialogue a chance and allow Cuba to continue to effectively contribute its fair share to global development”, he stressed.  African countries, like the majority of Member States, believed it was high time that the embargo was lifted, considering that it had been 50 years since it was imposed.  Children born after 1960 had not known anything else and as such, he reiterated the Union’s call for the embargo’s immediate lifting.

PAULETTE BETHEL, (Bahamas), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), reiterated the unequivocal opposition of CARICOM member States to the United States’ imposition of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.  The unilateral imposition of extraterritorial laws on third States was contrary to both the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter, she said, adding that the embargo itself runs counter to the principles of the Organization.

She noted that CARICOM considered the embargo an anachronism in the twenty first century, contributing only to the suffering of generations of ordinary Cubans and unnecessarily increasing tensions between the United States and Cuba.  Because the embargo served no justifiable legal, political or moral purpose today, she said CARICOM States therefore maintained the position that constructive engagement and peaceful negotiations remained the only acceptable means for advancing long-term peace and stability.  Noting that the resolution on the matter of the embargo had been repeatedly and overwhelmingly adopted by the General Assembly, she stated that its continued disregard would only complicate the President of the General Assembly’s stated goal of improving the role of the United Nations in matters of global governance.  CARICOM believed that the Assembly President should explore additional mechanisms to operationalize the words of the current resolution.

The significance of the embargo on the Cuban community continued to be of great concern to CARICOM, and its humanitarian impact on the people of Cuba was especially saddening, she continued.  It is remarkable, she noted, that even as Cuba struggled with a recent unfortunate string of natural disasters and the continued impact of the global economic crisis, it continued to assist other nations in the developing world.  While CARICOM continued to enjoy friendly relations with both Cuba and the United States, it called, once again, for an end to the embargo, and remained guardedly optimistic that the United States’ recent recommitment to multilateralism would result in an increased willingness to consider the opinions and concerns of its global friends and partners on the matter.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP (Brazil), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), recalled that the Common Market had been founded on the principle of solidarity, and as such, was bound to its Latin American neighbours by the desire to live in peace, and to defend both the equality and sovereignty of States.  Those ideals had historically oriented the relationship among Latin American societies and, in that regard, Brazil had welcomed decisions taken in the last year, including the easing of travel restrictions, removal of limits on remittances and relaxation of conditions for sending packages.

However, it was unfortunate that further similar actions had not been applied, she said, and the embargo continued without modifications and conditionalities were again in the path to greater openness.  The embargo contravened principles of the United Nations as well as international law, notably the principles of equality among States, non-interference in internal affairs and peaceful solution of controversies.  It also ran contrary to the principles of justice and human rights.

“We reject on principle unilateral and extraterritorial measures that cause irreparable harm to the welfare of people and obstruct the process of regional integration”, she stressed.  Reaffirming resolute support to the resolution, she also reaffirmed the commitment to multilateralism as a legitimate tool for the solution of controversies and an effective way to promote international cooperation.  The embargo against Cuba was an outdated policy that did not belong in the present world.  Adopting the resolution would provide more indelible proof of the international will to defend freedom solidarity and respect for sovereignty and international law.

CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said for 19 consecutive years his Government had used this forum to reiterate its rejection of the embargo against Cuba, and oppose the use of coercive actions that had no legal backing in the United Nations Charter.  Any kind of political, economic or military sanctions imposed on States could only emanate from the decisions or recommendations made by the General Assembly or the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter and international law, he said.  Unilateral measures applied extraterritorially in third countries produced severe humanitarian consequences, in open contradiction with the objectives that were supposed to inspire them.  They also meant renunciation of diplomacy and dialogue, which remained the best and most appropriate ways of resolving disputes among States because they ensured a climate of international peace.

The embargo’s damages were tangible in economic, trade and financial transactions made by Cuba, adversely affected the lives of its people and, indirectly, also affected third countries which could not interact with Cuba in many economic and social activities, he said.  Mexico had supported all initiatives against the embargo and would continue to support cooperation and development in Cuba.  The historical ties between the two countries had remained steadfast and observed the principles enshrined in the Charter, he said.  “In this regard, Mexico reiterates that the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the [United States] against Cuba must come to an end, knowing that this policy, which has lasted almost for half a century, had affected the Cuban people in a silent, systematic and cumulative way,” he said.

WANG MIN (China), welcoming the report of the Secretary-General that was before the Assembly, said that for 18 consecutive years, the world body had adopted resolutions by an overwhelming majority, urging all countries to repeal or invalidate all laws and measures with extraterritorial effect that compromised the sovereignty of other States, undermined the legitimate rights and interests of entities and individuals under jurisdiction of those States, and affected freedom of trade and navigation.

China regretted that those resolutions had not been effectively implemented and the embargo against Cuba had not been lifted.  That fact constituted a serious violation of the purposes and principles of the Charter, he continued.  China pursued an independent foreign policy of peace and was committed to developing friendly relations with all countries on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence.  Moreover, experience showed that sanctions usually failed to achieve their expected results, and instead, ended up victimizing civilians, in particular, the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children.

Stating that multilateralism and democratization of international relations had “taken root in people’s hearts”, while openness, cooperation, mutual benefit and “win-win progress” had become the consensus of the international community, the Chinese Government urged the country concerned to terminate, as soon as possible, its economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.  It maintained that all countries should develop their relations in compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.

JORGE VALERO BRICEÑO ( Venezuela) said that during the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session, the overwhelming majority of States had voted in favour of ending the blockade against the Cuban people.  The belief was strong among those calling for the respect of sovereignty and self-determination, and condemning threats against States’ political independence.  “Will the imperial Government of the United States continue to ignore the will of the General Assembly, which condemns the blockade against the sister republic of Cuba?” he asked.  Reaffirming its commitment to humanism, Venezuela rejected such actions against Cubans.  The change of Government in the United States had raised expectations about a new policy respecting nations’ sovereignty, but nothing suggested that there had been a substantial change, particularly regarding the blockade.

Rather, the United States continued to ignore the voices of those demanding an end to that “genocidal” policy, he said, recalling that the Torricelli and Helms Burton Act, which prevented Cuban trade with United States companies and their subsidiaries in third countries, persisted.  The blockade affected the legitimate interests of any State deciding to do business with Cuba.  The damage inflicted by the blockade was unjustifiable.  Its diverse impacts affected children with lymphoblastic leukaemia, hindered the import of building materials, and caused annual losses in Cuba’s sugar and tourism industries.  In short, it constituted a unilateral denial, by a signatory to the United Nations Charter, of the right to development of another Member State.  Despite the blockade, the Cuban Government and people had provided “extraordinary” support to Venezuela, and his country strongly supported today’s resolution.

MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) said the economic blockade and sanctions against Cuba were illegitimate because they deprived the people of their economic and social nature.  Historically, sanctions were a tool used, not to spur international peace and security, but to impose hegemonic intentions of big Powers against other nations and populations.  Sanctions were “deplorable”, he said, and had a dramatic impact on the rights recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, causing significant disruption in the distribution of food, pharmaceuticals and sanitation supplies, jeopardized the quality of food and water, interfered with basic health and education systems and undermined the right to work in a country.  Notwithstanding the harm that sanctions bore, they had proved to be futile, and do not subscribe to the provisions of the Charter, he said.

The imposition of unilateral blockades and extraterritorial application of domestic laws by a State, which “happens to be the United States of America”, against others affected, not only the population under sanction, but the interest of third parties.  During the last 19 years, the Assembly had witnessed the passage of 18 resolutions to end the sanctions against Cuba.  The economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba served no purpose other than inflicting hardships and suffering, and ran counter to international law and the Charter.  Therefore, Iran strongly rejected and remained opposed to the unilateral economic and trade measures against one country.  It would do everything to effectively thwart the sanctions and urged other States to do likewise.  In closing, he emphasized the urgent need to end such measures against Cuba and other developing countries, noting that regardless of whom they were imposed by, or under what pretext, “sanctions remain illegitimate, futile and misguidedly punitive.”

MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) aligned with statements made by Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement as well as Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  He reiterated deep concern at the continuation of the embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, saying Assembly Members’ consecutive annual adoption by quasi-unanimity of a resolution calling for the lifting of the measures “reflects the profound wish of the international community to put an end to this situation which has lasted far too long.”  Algeria has always condemned extra-territorial applications of laws and all forms of coercive economic and trade measures, which contradict international law and principles of the Charter, including the sovereign equality of States, territorial integrity, non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs of any other States.

The blockade caused huge material losses and economic damages to Cuba and also negatively affected the well-being of the Cuban people on a daily basis, he said.  Those consequences were exacerbated by the adverse effects of the current global economic and financial crisis that had seriously compromised Cuba’s development efforts.  Accordingly, Algeria would vote in favour of the draft resolution to end the embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, he said.

BASO SANGQU ( South Africa) said the blockade against Cuba violated international law and its imposition showed disregard for the noble principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  Indeed, the international community had regularly opposed the embargo, notably with its vote in the Assembly last year of 187 to 3, which was an outright rejection of that unilateral act.  South Africa supported today’s resolution, as such the embargo had caused untold suffering to Cubans.  Aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77 developing countries, he said South Africa, together with its region, had been humbled by Cuba’s historic role played in its liberation.  True to their commitment to solidarity, Cubans had not stood by to watch while others were being oppressed, and for that reason, “we owe it to Cuba and its people to join the progressive forces of the world and unequivocally condemn the continued illegal embargo”.

In repeatedly expressing its opposition to the embargo, South Africa had been guided by the basic norms of international law, he explained, and the need to eliminate punitive economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion.  The embargo violated the sovereign equality of States.  Despite the embargo, Cubans had “extended a hand of friendship” to others around the world, especially in the areas of health, education and biotechnology, and notably in Africa.  South Africa and Cuba had maintained longstanding cordial relations and the South Africa-Cuba Joint Consultative Mechanism was a strategic platform for expressing such strong bilateral ties.  The extremely harsh global financial crisis had only worsened Cubans’ fate and stifled their outstanding contribution to the economic and social development of the poor.  He urged taking meaningful steps to free them from the devastating impacts of the embargo and for the United States to end its unilateral isolation of that country.

HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia) said although it was unilaterally imposed, the United States embargo on Cuba had also impacted the economic and commercial relations of third countries.  Much had changed since the initial imposition of the embargo; the world of 2010 was very different from that of 1961, as witnessed when nations had opted to work together to overcome the impact of recent crises on the global economy.  “This testifies to the fact that globalization has created the conditions for true global solidarity and partnership among the community of nations.  The embargo against Cuba runs contrary to that spirit of unity and solidarity that is taking root in the world today,” he said.  From perspectives of the United Nations Charter and international law, the embargo lacked fairness and respect for the equality that should exist between sovereign States, he said.

“Instead of dialogue to resolve differences, what we have is an unwanted standoff that does not allow for an exchange of views to normalize relations,” he said.  Not only do political complications result from the embargo, but economic commercial and financial hardships it caused could hardly be justified on humanitarian grounds, he said.  Some small meaningful changes had occurred in recent times, such as the easing of travel restrictions and removal of obstacles to transfer remittances, but the time was right for relations between the two main parties to be transformed through constructive engagement.  “Lifting the embargo would be in keeping with the spirit of the times,” he said.  It would demonstrate unambiguous respect for the principle of non-intervention and Cuba would then be able to exercise its right to develop unhindered, while tensions between the two nations would dissolve, he said.

COLLIN BECK (Solomon Islands), aligning with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said for the last 19 years, resolutions on dismantling the 51 year old embargo on Cuba had come before the Assembly, and likewise, the global community had called for its lifting.  The embargo continued to be so “coated in an ideological suite” that opportunities to relax its lifting kept eluding delegates.  It was even sadder when that happened between neighbours.   Cuba was working to adapt to life under trying circumstances and he had been deeply touched by that fact, as new generations born into the embargo took on such a responsibility with a common sense of purpose that only spoke of a committed population.

Expressing hope that the principle of good neighbourliness would “win the day” and that the United States would restore, renew and reclaim the respect for Cuba’s sovereignty, he said the United Nations must do what was necessary, in the name of peace and preservation of Cubans’ right to development.  The imposition of the embargo was stuck in time and the opportunity to lift it must not be left to time or chance.  The Solomon Islands called for the unconditional lifting of the blockade against Cubans and to replace it with genuine dialogue and cooperation.

D. RAJA ( India) recalled it was the nineteenth year that the Assembly was deliberating the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.  Time and again, it had rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with “extraterritorial effects” on the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.  The Assembly’s resolutions remained unimplemented, which undermined the credibility of “this august house” and weakened multilateralism.  The embargo’s extraterritorial effects had denied Cubans access to the United States market, investment, technology and financial services, among other things.

Indeed, Cuba had had to pay enormous extra costs in the last five decades for sourcing products, technology and services from third countries thousands of kilometres away, he said.   Cuba’s efforts to provide health assistance to developing countries had borne the brunt of the embargo, making it yet another negative extraterritorial impact of the embargo.  The financial, food and energy crises had only made the embargo’s impacts more acute.  The United States continued to be a major source of food imports for Cuba, insofar as permitted by the United States Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, and the lifting of travel restrictions would bring immense benefits to Cuban tourism.  Congressional efforts to relax or lift the embargo, and the substantial interest in the business sector for unhindered access to the Cuban market, lent further credence to the Assembly’s annual resolutions.

VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) fully shared the view of the majority of States in firmly rejecting the embargo against Cuba and calling for its withdrawal as soon as possible.  That would improve the situation.  Maintenance of the commercial and economic embargo was an anachronism.  Last year, the United States President had taken steps to remove travel restrictions of United States citizens with family in Cuba and to resume dialogue on migration issues.  He expressed the hope of seeing further steps towards improved relations, including the full lifting of the embargo. In the meantime, the Russian Federation would vote in favour of the resolution calling for the embargo to be lifted and for non-interference into States’ internal affairs.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia) associating with the African Group, Group of 77 developing countries and the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that in 1987, United States President Ronald Regan, addressing the President of the Soviet Union, had called on him to “tear down this wall”.  Today, for the sake of suffering Cubans, he appealed earnestly and simply: “President Obama, please do the right thing.  Lift the United States embargo against Cuba”.  It was time to be on the right side of history.

SUSAN WAFFA-OGOO ( Gambia) expressed her bewilderment that a 50-year-old regime was still in tact with occasional “cosmetic tweaks” made to resemble real change.  Echoing the words of Gambia’s Foreign Minister, she said, “It is embarrassing that such cruel and outmoded form of settling scores is still in place.” The embargo had no legitimacy, no appeal, and it was time for those who imposed it to show genuine leadership by ending it.  The devastating effects of the embargo on the Government and the people of Cuba was well documented, she said, and the United Nations system was paying a heavy price in its activities with Cuba, particularly in areas regarding its Cuban United Nations personnel, visa restrictions, and higher procurement costs.

 The embargo had seriously impacted Cuba, she said, and had not spared the country’s agriculture, health, medical research, educational collaboration, cultural exchange, or other domestic interests.  Even children were seriously impacted, she said, noting that the HIV/AIDS programme was affected by the lack of procurement of the antiretroviral drugs, Kaletra and Norvir.  The odious nature of the embargo was apparent to all and its imposition could not continue, she said.  In closing, she said, “The Cuba we know does not deserve these sanctions”.  Cuba, in fact, was a leader in providing humanitarian assistance, healthcare and education around the globe.   Cuba was not a threat to any country’s national security and was a country that promoted friendly relations between its peoples and countries of every region represented in the Assembly.

LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN ( Ghana) said that he took the floor of the Assembly to express his strong solidarity, which had been demonstrated by the international community year after year, to call for the end of restrictions against a Member State by a Member State.   Ghana remained committed to the principles enshrined in the Charter and international law, and therefore, steadfastly refrained from promulgating and enforcing laws whose extraterritorial effects adversely affected the sovereignty of other states, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation, he said.

He went on to underscore the excellent bilateral relations shared by Ghana and Cuba, which was based on their mutual goals and responsibilities towards a just and equitable world in the spirit of cooperation and multilateralism.  Ghana’s longstanding cooperation with Cuba, most notably in the areas of health, education, and sports, continued to expand, he said.  For example, an estimated 200 Cuban medical professionals currently worked in hospitals across his country, many of whom offered teaching facilities in some Ghanaian universities.  Furthermore, Cuba continued to host educational scholarships to Ghanaian students, in order to study sectors that were deemed critical for the development agenda pursued by the Ghana Government.  In closing, he stressed the debilitating toll that the 50-year-old embargo had taken on the well-being of the ordinary people of Cuba, including its women and children.  To that end, in the spirit of “fellow feeling for our brothers in Cuba”, he called for the United States to end its embargo.

JOSEPH GODDARD ( Barbados) called for respecting the rights of non-interference in internal affairs and peaceful relations among States, among others.  Maintenance of peace and security required that all States adhere to the rule of law, including the principles enshrined in the Charter.  For such reasons, Barbados opposed the unilateral imposition of measures that infringed on State sovereignty.  He viewed the continued imposition of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba as a violation of the Charter.  Barbados fully embraced Cuba as a partner in the region and remained steadfast in that partnership.  It respected Cuba’s full integration into the hemisphere.  Measures to isolate that country, such as the embargo, would not foster change.

By way of example, he said the embargo inhibited the development of normal relations and impeded legitimate business opportunities among neighbouring States.  The embargo’s impacts could be seen throughout all social and economic activities in Cuba, creating economic hardship.  For its part, Barbados maintained excellent relations with both the United States and Cuba and, in that spirit, called for the immediate end to the embargo.  He further urged the United States to engage in a constructive dialogue with Cuba.  Such a step would remove a source of tension and improve prospects for peace, development and cooperation.  His Government would vote in favour of the resolution.

Introduction and Action on Draft Resolution

Introducing the resolution on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”, BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said the only guarantee that nuclear weapons would not be used would be their complete destruction.  “We are living in a new age,” he said, and the Assembly should, as the Cuban President had urged, call for respecting the right of all peoples to live.  A new world order based on human solidarity and justice, dialogue and cooperation, must be built.  Against that backdrop, the United States policy against Cuba was devoid of any legal ground or support, as evidenced by some 180 votes in the Assembly, which last year, as in previous years, had called for an end to the blockade.  More than 180 countries and specialized United Nations agencies had documented their opposition to that United States policy.  Further, at the Unity Summit, held in Cancun, Mexico, in February, Latin American and Caribbean leaders had also expressed their opposition to it.

Similar views had been expressed by the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union and practically every other United Nations group, he stressed, pointing out that there was also growing consensus among Cuban exiles in the United States.  In recent polls, 71 per cent of United States citizens favoured normalization of relations with Cuba.  Two years after the United States President had pledged to seek a new beginning with Cuba, nothing had changed.  Sanctions were being fully implemented and the continued impact was visible in all aspects of Cuban life, especially in sensitive areas like health and food.  It was impossible to buy equipment needed to treat retinal tumours.   Cuba lacked access to Sevoflurane, an advanced medicine used during operations on children, because Abbott, the North American company that made it, was forbidden from selling its products to Cuba.

Although Washington had selectively authorized university and scientific exchanges, those exchanges had been subject to severe restrictions, he explained, noting that many had been prevented because permits and visas had been denied.  Fines imposed by the United States Treasury and Justice Departments on American and European entities for their transactions with Cuba totalled more than $800 million.  The United States had appropriated transfers made by Cuba in other countries’ currencies, like the Euro.  The direct economic damage caused to Cubans over 50 years from the blockade was valued at over $751 billion in current dollars.  Last year, President Obama had ratified sanctions claiming they were in the United States’ national interest.  However, the White House paid more attention to the well-funded interests of a minute minority that had turned opposition against Cuba into a profitable business.

He regretted that the United States President had been so poorly advised.  The changes Cuba was undertaking today responded to the sovereign decisions of its people.  They aimed to render Cuba’s economic model more efficient, reinforce Cuban culture and develop Cuba’s socialism.  They were not meant to respond to the desires of the United States Government, which until today, had always been contrary to those of humanity.  Many generations of Cubans had given the best of their lives to defending their country’s sovereignty.  The United States had ignored Cuba’s proposals, submitted in public and in private, to open dialogue.

There had been no response to new proposals for cooperation in 2010, especially in the fight against drug trafficking and in preventing natural disasters.  On the contrary, he said, the United States had continued with adding Cuba’s name to “spurious” lists, including those of nations that had allegedly sponsored terrorism.  The United States had no moral authority to draw up such lists and there was no reason to include Cuba in any of them.  Opposed the imprisonment of five Cubans held in the United States, Cuba also called on the United States to end the impunity enjoyed on its territory by terrorist organizations wishing to destabilize Cuba.

Indeed, it was outrageous that the blockade today was guided by the logic expressed in 1960, in a memo written by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, he said, noting it was a cruel policy of aggression that contravened international law.  The policy was an act of “genocide” under article 2 of the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, and should unilaterally be ceased.  He asked all gathered today to vote in favour of the draft.

Though economic harassment had hindered Cuba’s economic development, his country had shown “undeniable” results in the eradication of poverty and hunger and in reversing environmental degradation, among other things.  A few weeks ago, Cuba had declared it had attained an exceptional level in work to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  Cubans faced their historic destiny inspired by the principles of peace, justice and solidarity that had characterized them for generations. Cuba was ready to establish respectful relations with the United States as it enjoyed with the majority of States.

Speaking in explanation of vote before vote, the representative if the United States said his country had the sovereign right to conduct its economic relationship with Cuba; it was a bilateral issue and part of a broader set of relations meant to increase respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  He regretted Cuba continued year after year to inappropriately label United States trade restrictions as an act of “genocide,” which was an egregious use of that term degraded victims elsewhere in the world.

Those charging United States sanctions were the cause of deprivation among Cubans should be reminded that the United States held no restriction on humanitarian aid to the country and remained its largest provider of its food.  In agriculture alone, it had exported $526 million in goods to Cuba last year, when it was Cuba’s fifth-largest trade partner.  The United States also authorized $237 million in private humanitarian assistance last year in the form of gift parcels filled with food, among other things, he said.

It was equally important that the United States had shown it was prepared to engage Cuba on issues that affected security and well-being of its people, he added.  In 2009, President Barack Obama said the United States sought a new beginning with Cuba, and over the 21 months it had begun to make progress, lifting restrictions on family visits and remittances while expanding humanitarian donations.  It had also encouraged telecommunication agreements and agricultural contracts while resuming talks on migration, and started talks to begin direct mail service and also increased artistic and cultural exchanges.  Furthermore, the United States coordinated with Cuba as part of international relief efforts in Haiti after the tragic earthquake there.

The release of political prisoners and economic reforms were also positive for Cubans, and he hoped to see progress on those steps soon.  But a new era in relations between the United States and Cuba could not be realized until Cubans enjoyed the political and economic freedoms that the United Nations had fought to defend around the world.  The United States would vote against the resolution, and it was high time for the Assembly to move beyond rhetorical posturing and support the right for Cubans to freely decide their own future.

Also speaking before the vote was the representative of Nicaragua, who said she would vote in favour of the resolution to end the prejudice that the Administration of United States President Barack Obama continued to cause the people of Cuba with the “most heinous blockade” ever imposed on a country.  She said Cuba was a kindred nation, with kindred people and a kindred Government, which Nicaragua respected for its heroism and generosity, noting that Cuba was always the first to come to lend a helping hand.  Therefore, she demanded that the country that prevented Cuba’s development and initiated aggression to cease and desist the “absurd act against humanity.”

To that end, she called for the voices of the international community to demand for nineteenth time to put an end to the criminal and inhumane blockade imposed on Cuba.  The chokehold policy placed on Cuba by the previous United States Administrations was being carried out to the very letter by the Obama Administration.  “Where is the change?  There has been no change”, she said, noting the current United States administration had only increased Cuba’s isolation.  Furthermore, she called for the immediate release of five Cuban anti-terrorists heroes, whose only crime was to defend their motherland against terrorists action.  The policies of the United States would continue to isolate Cuba from the international community.

By a recorded vote of 187 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel) with 3 abstentions (Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands), the General Assembly then adopted the resolution on necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (document A/65/L.3).  (See annex for details)

Following the vote, Belgium’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the United States’ trade policy towards Cuba was fundamentally a bilateral issue, but Washington had extended the effects of the United States’ embargo to third-party countries, and the European Union opposed such extraterritorial measures.  While recognizing the United States Government’s decision to lift restrictions on remittances and family travel to Cuba, the Union could not accept that unilateral measures impeded its economic and commercial relations with Cuba.  The Union had adopted regulations to protect persons residing in Europe against those measures, and he reiterated calls on the United States to implement the package it agreed to in May 1998 to alleviate the problems with extraterritorial legislation.

The European Union in June 2009 lifted its own restrictive measures on Cuba and resumed dialogue with Havana without preconditions, holding four political dialogue ministerial sessions with the Cuban Government to address issues of common interest, including human rights.  The European Union reaffirmed its determination to pursue a results-oriented dialogue with Cuban authorities, as well as civil society representatives and peaceful pro-democracy opposition.  Cuban citizens had the right to independently decide their future, he said.  While the Union was encouraged by the on-going release of 52 political prisoners, it called on the Cuban Government to unconditionally release all political prisoners and called on it to unconditionally release all political prisoners.

He also called on the Cuban Government to fully grant its citizens internationally recognized civil, political and economic rights and freedoms, including freedom of expression and access to information, while ratifying the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and extend invitations to more special Rapporteur’s to visit the country.  Restrictions on rights undermined Cuban achievements in health care and education, he said, while Cuba’s economic policy seriously hampered its own economic development.  The Union was looking forward to economic reforms announced by the Cuban Government, and hoped they would be able to address key concerns.  Yet the United States embargo negatively affected living standards of the Cuban economy and the Union believed its lifting would benefit the Cuban people.  In spite of continued concerns of Cuba’s human rights situation, the Union unanimously voted in favour of the draft resolution, he said.

Uruguay’s delegate said the embargo contravened the United Nations Charter and international law, notably those laws regulating international trade. Uruguay’s position must be seen in a broad context of defending multilateralism and promoting the principles of non-intervention and peaceful dispute settlement.  He reiterated that his Government was against the blockade and did not recognize the extraterritorial application of domestic legislation.  He condemned the United States’ coercive measures against Cuba, which obstructed dialogue and cooperation. Voting in favour of the resolution, Uruguay was committed to multilateralism as a legitimate instrument to resolve disputes.

Bolivia’s delegate said the blockade against Cuba had failed. Far from having isolated that small island, it had triggered the broadest possible international solidarity, as had been seen for the nineteenth time, in the adoption of the Assembly’s resolution.  One hundred and eighty seven countries had rejected the blockade against a nation that had the courage to speak with its own sovereign voice.  The United States had violated its claim to be a defender of liberty, as it continued to violate Cubans’ rights and generate losses to Cuba in the millions of dollars.

He said the United States Congress could not regulate the political life of another State.  The United States delegate had said the blockade would end when Cubans benefited from basic rights and freedoms, constituting a confession that his country was using the blockade to impose its hegemonic vision on Cubans.  No State had that right.   Cuba’s response was an example for all humankind.  Cuban doctors had saved thousands of lives and Cuban teachers had helped people learn.  The imposition of such sanctions would never defeat those who supported Cuba.

Angola’s delegate said his Government had voted, as in previous years, in favour of the resolution, joining the international community in condemning the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba and appealing for its end.  Indeed, the embargo was a flagrant and systematic violation of Cubans’ rights.  For years, the Assembly had overwhelmingly adopted resolutions urging that measures with extraterritorial effect be retracted.  Regrettably, the long-term economic and financial embargo was still in place, in violation of the Assembly’s resolutions.  Changes adopted by the United States administration related to a few points in the embargo and he urged that extraterritorial measures be eliminated as way to coerce another State.

The representative of Myanmar said the hardship and suffering caused by the embargo on Cuba were overwhelmingly called to end.  His delegation believed it was the abject right of all States to pick their own social systems and their methods of development.  The United States’ unilateral embargo against Cuba was against United Nations charter and contrary to international law, and for that reason, as in previous years, Myanmar voted in favour of the resolution.

Also speaking after the vote, Suriname’s representative said his delegation, having voted in favour of the current and successive United Nations resolutions on the matter of ending the embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, reiterated its position on what he termed a “crucial issue.”   Suriname remained committed to the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter and to upholding the principles of international law.  The continuation of the embargo on Cuba remained a “deep concern” against the background of the deepening impact of the current global economic and financial crisis.  Suriname believed that the Embargo would “further aggravate” the hardships for the people of Cuba, and therefore reiterated its call for ending the embargo, which was contrary to international law and negatively affected regional cooperation.

The representative of Belarus condemned the unilateral embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, which ran counter to the principles of international law and the Charter.  Any unilateral attempt to change the political system of another State was unacceptable, he said.  The application of coercion created hurdles toward achieving development goals and violated the rights of the people, which gave rise to instability and conflicts.  The persistent global economic and financial crisis underscored the inappropriate nature of the unilateral sanctions against Cuba.  Therefore, his country called for an end to the embargo, which the Assembly had voted in favour of for the last 19 years.  Further, he expressed hope that the collective voice of the international community would finally be heeded.  His delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution.

The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic reiterated his country’s opposition to the embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States.  The embargo not only ran counter to the principles enshrined in the Charter and international law, it also violated the fundamental principle of rights of development of the people of all nations.  Further, the imposed sanctions continued to cause undue hardship and hindered the social and economic development of Cuba’s Government and its people.  The Assembly’s adoption of the resolution for nineteenth year indicated the international community’s rejection of the embargo against Cuba and confirmed its friendship and solidarity with Cuba.  His country believed in the importance of resolving conflict by peaceful means, and in that spirit, reaffirmed its support for the Assembly’s resolution.  His delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution.

Also speaking after the vote, the representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said his country supported the resolution, even though it had very good relations with the United States, and remained one of its closest partners, respecting its international leadership.  He associated statement with those previously made on behalf of CARICOM, Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77 developing countries and China, because States should not affect free flow of trade or apply laws that impinge on sovereignty of other States.

Cuba was also one of his country’s strongest allies — it aided development and cooperated within the Caribbean, and much could be learned from the country, but was prevented by the embargo.  The embargo was a burden on the brothers and sisters of Cuba, with quite an unfair and profound impact.  Indeed, other countries in grip of global recession could get outside help, but Cuba could not — that went against the very principles of the partnership of the United Nations.  The fact that members annually overwhelmingly voted against the embargo implied that it was wrong, he said.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, in a statement made after voting in favour of the resolution, said that the General Assembly had adopted successive texts calling on States to abide by the United Nations Charter and norms of international law.  Such resolutions had also urged them to refrain from enacting laws and taking measures that were damaging to the legitimate rights and interests of third States.  United Republic of Tanzania regretted that the “just appeal” of the international community had not always been heeded and that related General Assembly resolutions had yet to be implemented.

The economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba had created huge difficulties for the Cuban people, said the representative, including by inflicting “enormous suffering” on Cuban women and children.  The measures had also impeded trade exchanges between Cuba and several other counties, as well as frustrating efforts toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals in several areas.  While United Republic of Tanzania enjoyed healthy and sound relations with the people and Government of Cuba, said the representative, it believed that cooperation between the two countries would flourish further if the blockade would be lifted.  Similarly, United Republic of Tanzania enjoyed “excellent relations and a robust development partnership” with the United States, but nonetheless urged that country to listen to “repeated and increasing” calls by the international community to bring an end to the Embargo.

The representative of Libya said the imposition of sanctions and embargoes had never been appropriate measures in disputes between States — they sent a message of force and reflected authoritarianism and arrogance that threatened peace.  His own country had been subjected to a blockade this past decade and knew well “the nefarious effects” such measures had on the people.  Unilateral measures ran counter to principles of international law and only aggravated human suffering, worsened disputes and fostered strife.  He called on the United States to lift the blockade, saying his country had voted in support of the resolution because imposition of sanctions was not the best means to resolve disputes.

Syria’s representative said the unilateral embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba ran counter to the sacrosanct nature of the principles enshrined by the United Nations Charter and international law.  Rather, the 50-year-old embargo had a set a precedent for dealing with countries outside the framework of international laws and had exposed the Cuban people to economic and social hardship.  After 19 consecutive years of unilateral support of the Assembly, the economic, financial and commercial embargo was still in effect.  The support of the resolution this year by 187 Member States was quite significant, he said, and emphasized that the majority of the international community supported ending the embargo and rejected the “Helms Burton Act”, which contravenes international law.  However, he said Israel’s vote against the resolution had demonstrated that it had no regard for international law and was viewed as a desperate attempt to justify its embargo against Gaza, which was also internationally rejected.  His delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution.

The representative of Sudan said her delegation voted in favour of the resolution and congratulated Cuba’s foreign minister on the overwhelming support it achieved.  Sovereignty, non-interference and freedom of trade were enshrined in a number of international agreements, and the embargo had negative results that extended beyond borders.  The government of Sudan followed a policy of respect for international law and non-interference on others, thus condemned political and economic sanctions on developing countries, which ran against the United Nations Charter and prevented sustainable development.  Sanctions also negatively affected the living standard of the Sudanese people and prevented the Government’s efforts towards elimination of poverty, attainment in human development and health.  They had affected all parts of Sudan, including the humanitarian situation in Darfur which had been exacerbated, she said.

The representative of Viet Nam said that 18 consecutive years had passed since the Assembly adopted the first resolution demanding an end to the unilateral economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.  Throughout those years, he said, the Assembly had adopted similar resolutions with “increasing consensual support,” with a record high last year of 187 out of 192 Member States voting in its favour.

As a grave violation of international laws, including those related to the freedom of trade and navigation, sovereign equality and non-interference in internal affairs of States, said the representative, the embargo ran counter to universally recognized norms governing relations between sovereign countries.  The over half-century-long embargo, he added, had caused “phenomenal” financial and material losses to the Cuban economy, and had affected the Cuban people’s efforts to maintain a normal life in respect and dignity.

It had also affected those who wished to foster “legitimate, normal and mutually beneficial” cultural, economic, commercial and financial relations with Cuba, including an increasing proportion of the American people.  Reiterating his delegation’s support for the draft resolution, he joined the majority of Member States in demanding that the United States Government put an immediate end to the embargo against Cuba in order to lessen the hardships unduly inflicted upon the Cuban people, reduce tension and create an atmosphere conducive to constructive efforts toward the early normalization of relations between the two countries.

Nigeria’s representative thanked the Secretary-General for his report regarding the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba.  Nigeria, like the “overwhelming majority” of the international community,” opposed the embargo and considered that unilateral measures applied extraterritorially in a third State were contrary to the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter.

However, it welcomed the decision taken in 2009 by the United States to remove a number of restrictions to travel to Cuba as well as the transfer of money and postal orders to Cuba from the United States.  He said that Nigeria maintained friendly relations with all states and did not favour unilateral punitive measures to settle political disputes.  Consequently, it reiterated its position in favour of lifting the “longest-lasting trade embargo in human history.”

The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines noted United States President Barack Obama, in his inaugural address to the Assembly last year, said “alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War” made no sense in an interconnected world, and, “the time has come to realize that the old habits and arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people.” St. Vincent and the Grenadines “wholeheartedly” aligned itself with those words, as well as today’s statements by the Caribbean Community, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 developing countries and China, he said.  There might be no clearer example of the United States’ disregard of overwhelming international opinion than its continued unilateral imposition of “this senseless blockade,”  which had ,over the years, become “a policy in search of a justification.” he said.  A United States Government Accountability Office report last year said the President had discretion to further ease restrictions on measures causing suffering among Cubans, he noted.

It was most unfortunate that any foreign president exerted such a direct and negative influence on day-to-day lives of another nation’s citizens, in flagrant disregard of international law, he said.  President Obama’s cathartic and laudable statements rang hollow when viewed through the prism of existing legislation that attempted to “impose a cookie-cutter concept of democracy totally divorced from the culture, history and context of the Cuban people,” he said.  He noted Cuba had been a “staunch and abiding partner” in the development of his own country, educating its students, bringing medical care and construction projects while wealthier countries and institutions had looked askance.  “This resolution is not simply some ritualistic annual rite of the United Nations; it is a matter of life and death for 11.5 million Cubans.  We in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines believe in change, and live in hope that there will be no need for us to gather here next year to vote on this resolution yet again,” he said.

Welcoming the adoption of the draft resolution, the representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed his delegation’s full support for solidarity with the Government and people of Cuba “struggling for justice and social progress.”  Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had adhered to its “constant position” in opposing all forms of interference, threat of use of force and sanctions against sovereign States.  Since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 64/6 in 2009, and despite the strong demand and expectations of the majority of United Nations Member States, no sign of change in the policy of the United States Embargo against Cuba had been seen.

The United States embargo against Cuba showed that the “routinely uttered” commitment by the United States to the implementation of the outcomes of major United Nations summits and conferences was “merely lip-service” and that, in reality, its actions impeded the efforts of other countries for socio-economic development.  The international community demanded the termination of the embargo, which, he said constituted “a grave violation of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference as enshrined in the [Charter] and relevant international laws.”  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in particular was of the view that the embargo was “illegitimate and inhumane;” constituted “flagrant, massive and systematic violations of the rights of an entire people;” and was “undemocratic” as it was purported to “overthrow a sovereign State.”

Thus strongly denouncing the persistent United States Embargo against Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would also strongly urged the United States to heed to the demand of the international community, observe all the relevant General Assembly resolutions and take measures to lift the economic, commercial and financial Embargo against Cuba immediately and without any condition.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Cuba said he was very grateful for the words of the 13 delegations who spoke at this afternoon’s session.  This was the nineteenth occasion on which Member States had asked for an end to the United States’ “economic warfare and act of genocide” against Cuba.  Although the United States representative said in his remarks that the blockade did not constitute genocide, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide had also defined that crime as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious groups through “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”, he said.

The embargo was a vestige of the Cold War and a for of aggression against the Cuban people; if the idea was to help and support the Cuban people, then the only thing to do would be to lift the blockade.  The pretext for the embargo might have changed, but it had remained a breach of the human rights of the Cuban people, he said.  In response to criticism of Cuba’s human rights record, the representative noted numerous allegations of human rights violations by the United States which had not been prosecuted.  The aim of the embargo was to establish a “pro Yankee” Government in Cuba, but that would not happen, he said.

The Government of the Untied States had changed, he said, but the funding of internal subversion in Cuba had remained, while hostile radio and television broadcasts remained.  Five Cubans remained in prison in the United States while “international terrorists” remained free in Miami.  There had also been lies told in the Assembly about the value of transfers made to Cuba, he said, adding that the blockade affected everyone, and was not just a bilateral matter.  The European Union also had no political or moral authority to lecture anyone on human rights, he said, and would be better served to deal with its own issues, in areas such as immigration and unemployment.  The Union was dreaming if it thought it could establish normal trading relations with Cuba if it lectured on rights, he said.

ANNEX

Vote on Ending United States Embargo against Cuba

The draft resolution on the Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States against Cuba (document A/65/L.3) was adopted by a recorded vote of 187 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:

In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against:  Israel, United States.

Abstain:  Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau.

Absent:  None.

* *** *


For information media • not an official record

Cuba Gets Symbolic Victory at UN

October 26, 2010


By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 26 — The United States half-century economic blockade on Cuba got another resounding rebuff on Tuesday at the United Nations by a record 187-2 vote.
Only Israel supported Washington’s position with all other US allies telling the Obama administration that enough’s enough on the attempted stranglehold on Cuba.
Many of the countries that supported Cuba’s resolution against the blockade have their differences with the island’s government but do not think the US policy is fair.
The vote is non-binding with no teeth to force the US to change its policy.
In 2009, the vote was 187-3 with tiny Palau also joining the US and Israel.


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