The world says No! to the U.S. blockade of Cuba

Nov. 7 — For the 28th year in a row, an almost unanimous United Nations General Assembly demanded an end to the United States economic blockade of Cuba. Over 7 billion people live in the 187 countries that voted for the resolution entitled, “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” 

For nearly 60 years, the U.S. has imposed cruel sanctions on Cuba. They’ve blocked Cuba from buying insulin and other U.S.-made medicines. The cost to the small country has been $138 billion, or $12,000 for each Cuban.

Every African country voted for Cuba. So did all of Cuba’s neighbors in the Caribbean. China and India voted yes. Even the 28 countries belonging to the European Union voted against the U.S. blockade.

All these countries said No! to the biggest bully on the planet: the Big Oil and bankster government of the U.S. Under the 1992 Torricelli Act, if any country’s ships trade with Cuba, they are barred from visiting any U.S. port for 180 days.

Provisions like these attempt to force the rest of the world to obey Wall Street’s blockade of Cuba. It’s a violation of international law.

Just three countries voted against the resolution: the United States of Trump, Brazil and apartheid Israel, which occupies Palestine. 

For the first time, Brazil voted against the annual resolution defending Cuba’s sovereignty. That doesn’t represent the feelings of the peoples of Brazil.

It’s the decision of fascist president Jair Bolsonaro, who kicked out Cuban doctors healing poor people. Bolsonaro has been linked to the assassination of the socialist Marielle Franco, a lesbian activist who was Rio de Janiero’s only Black woman city councillor. 

The two countries that abstained were the death squad government of Colombia and Ukraine. 

The action of the Ukrainian government was shameful. Over 20,000 Ukrainian children who suffered cancers and radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster have been treated in Cuba for free. 

Love for Cuba

Ambassador after ambassador spoke with admiration and respect for the people of Cuba. “This meeting is indeed a show of solidarity from the world to Cuba. … It is a meeting to express our thanks to the enormous, marvelous and exemplary solidarity of Cuba with the peoples of the world,” declared Sacha Llorenty, the ambassador from the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

“I wish to pay tribute to the almost 30,000 Cuban health care professionals who are providing support in 85 countries throughout the world,” said Ambassador Liorenty. “When Ebola, malaria and other illnesses attacked the poorest of the planet, Cuban solidarity was there. … When racism and colonialism held hostage our African brothers, Cuba was there. When illiteracy affected many of our peoples, Cuba was there.” 

Bolivia’s ambassador quoted the words of Nelson Mandela: “The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the peoples of Africa. Cuban internationalists have made an unparalleled contribution to the independence, freedom and justice of Africa.”

Tragically, the CIA along with its local stooges have now, at least temporarily, overthrown Bolivia’s elected president, Evo Morales.  

Grenada’s ambassador, Keisha McGuire, spoke of Cuba helping the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorrian swept over it. What a contrast to racist President Reagan invading Grenada with 7,000 troops in 1983. Antigua and Barbuda, and Trinidad and Tobago also spoke against the blockade.

“Cuba’s emergency assistance to the African countries affected by the Ebola crises in West Africa is a great example of its solidarity with the international community,” said the Palestinian ambassador, Dr. Riyad Mansour. 

Dr. Mansour, who grew up as a refugee, spoke on behalf of 134 developing countries known as the Group of 77 plus the People’s Republic of China.

Namibia’s ambassador, Neviiie Gertze, declared, “To Namibia, the Cuban people are family. Cuba has been at the forefront of contributing to the freedom and independence of my country.”

Cuban volunteers shed their blood alongside Africans fighting against the apartheid regime then in power in South Africa. As the late Pan African teacher and organizer Elombe Brath said, “When Africa called, Cuba answered.”

Recalling Simón Bolívar’s warning 

As soon as Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza began speaking, Trump’s delegation walked out. That insult didn’t stop Arreaza from telling the General Assembly that “The government of the United States has tightened the criminal blockade imposed for almost 60 years. … For 28 years now, the General Assembly, the most democratic body in this organization, has called for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade which thwarts the right to development of the heroic Cuban people and also seeks unconstitutional regime change in the sisterly socialist republic of Cuba, the Cuba of Martí, the Cuba of Fidel.”

Referring to Cuban doctors and other medical workers in his country, the foreign minister said that “Millions of lives have been saved, millions of Venezuelan families have been helped.” Trump claims these nurses and doctors are “occupying” Venezuela. Millions of poor people needing medical care from Harlem to Appalachia would love such an occupation.

Jorge Arreaza pointed out that “Now Washington is supposedly trying to breathe new life into that old infamous Monroe Doctrine.” Named after slave master President James Monroe, this policy claimed the right of the U.S. to overthrow any government in the Western Hemisphere, like what Reagan did in Grenada.

Arreaza reminded the General Assembly that “Almost 200 years ago the liberator Simón Bolívar said, ‘The United States seems fated by providence to bring misery to the Americas in the name of liberty.'” 

“It is time to put an end to this imperialist madness!” declared Venezuela’s foreign minister.

Billionaire diplomat

Trump’s ambassador, Kelly Craft, returned to the hall and admitted that “For the 28th time this resolution will likely pass almost unanimously.” Craft is the best diplomat that money can buy. A billionaire coal mine owner with husband Joseph Craft III, Craft got her job with the $2 million they shoveled to Trump’s campaign and inauguration.

Craft lied about Cuba refusing to buy goods from the United States. Diplomats in the hall must have chuckled when Craft attacked Cuba for having “collaborated with the former Maduro regime,” as if the elected president, Nicolás Maduro Moros, isn’t still governing in Caracas.

The U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet throttling the Pacific Ocean like its private Lake Michigan didn’t prevent the Solomon Islands representative from saying, “My delegation also wishes to thank Cuba … in particular … in terms of training of Solomon Islands students in the medical field.”

Cuba isn’t the only country enduring U.S. economic sanctions. So is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, the Russian Federation, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Syria’s permanent representative to the U.N., Bashar al-Jaafari, said that the Syrian people, like the Cuban people, have been suffering for decades from the serious repercussions of unilateral coercive economic measures imposed by the U.S. and some other governments.

Iran’s ambassador, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, stated that “the inhuman sanctions and blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for almost six decades is the most unjust and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions applied against any country.”

Zimbabwe’s representative also spoke out against the blockade.

Speaking truth to power 

Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, spoke immediately before the vote was taken. Here are some of his hard-hitting, truthful remarks:

“In recent months, the government of President Donald Trump has initiated an escalation in its aggression against Cuba, with the adoption of unconventional measures to prevent the supply of fuel to our country from various markets through sanctions and threats to vessels, shippers, and insurance companies. Its objective, in addition to affecting the economy, is to damage the living standard of Cuban families. The United States government is responsible.

“In April of this year, the filing of lawsuits in U.S. courts against Cuban, U.S., and third-country entities was authorized under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.

“The persecution of our banking-financial relations with the rest of the world has intensified.

“Remittances to Cuban citizens were restricted; the granting of visas was reduced and consular services limited; an agreement between baseball federations was canceled; individual trips by U.S. citizens were canceled, along with cruise ship stops and direct flights to Cuban airports, except for Havana; the leasing of airplanes with more than 10 percent U.S. components and the acquisition of technologies and equipment with the same was prohibited; commercial promotional activities and cultural and educational exchanges ceased. The United States government is responsible.

“It has aggressively intensified the extraterritorial impact of the blockade of Cuba on third states, their companies, and citizens.

“The goal of economically asphyxiating Cuba and increasing damage, shortages, and our people’s sufferings is not hidden. …

“The accumulated damages caused by the blockade over almost six decades have reached 922 billion dollars, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar as compared to the value of gold. At current prices, quantifiable damages of more than 138 billion dollars have been incurred. …

“The U.S. government has also proposed to sabotage the international cooperation that Cuba provides in the area of health. With a slander campaign, U.S. politicians and officials directly attack a program based on genuine conceptions of South-South cooperation, which has been recognized by the international community.”

Keeping pharmaceuticals from people with cancer

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez detailed the suffering of individual Cubans because of the cruel blockade:

“As a result of the blockade, Bryan Gómez Santiesteban, 16, and Leydis Posada Cañizares, 19, of growth age, cannot receive expandable internal prostheses, but only fixed, and must therefore undergo frequent surgeries for replacement. Expandable prostheses are produced by the U.S. company Stryker. Yes, your government is responsible.

“The blockade also makes it impossible to access novel drugs for cancer treatment, only produced by U.S. pharmaceutical companies.

“Mayra Lazus Roque, 57, is a renal cancer patient who could not be treated with the optimal drug, Sunitinib, only produced by the U.S. company Pfizer. Thanks to the treatment she has received with products from Cuba’s biotechnology industry, she is in good general health.

“Eduardo Hernández Hernández, 49, suffers from metastatic melanoma. The optimal treatment for this type of cancer is Nivolumab, a drug only produced by the U.S. company Bristol Myers Squibb, which we cannot access. He is being treated with other alternatives. Your government is responsible.

“Year after year, the United States delegation at this headquarters, as the Ambassador just did, has expressed, with a good dose of cynicism, that her government supports the Cuban people. Can anyone believe such a statement?

“The government of the United States lies and falsifies data on alleged licenses for sales of medicines and food to Cuba, which are very difficult to obtain.

“The United States delegation in those seats should explain to this Assembly the conditions it imposes on Cuban purchases: there is no access to credit, official or private; payment in cash is required when goods reach the port; banks that process our transactions are persecuted; Cuban vessels cannot be used for transport. Yes, it is responsible. Who in the world conducts trade under such conditions?

“The successful, effective Cuban model has ensured and assures Cuban men and women equal opportunities, equity and social justice, despite hostility and coercion. …”

“The blockade policy’s definition is best expressed in the infamous memorandum written by Undersecretary of State Lester Mallory, in April of 1960, who I quote: ‘There is no effective political opposition. … The only possible way to make the government lose domestic support is by provoking disappointment and discouragement through economic dissatisfaction and hardships. … Every possible means should be immediately used to weaken the economic life. … denying Cuba funds and supplies to reduce nominal and real salaries with the objective of provoking hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.'”

For Mallory’s full memorandum, see 499. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mallory) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) 

Solidarity with poor and working people in the U.S.

Cuba’s leading diplomat also exposed the hypocrisy of the Trump regime talking about “human rights” when so many people in the U.S. are poor and exploited:

The United States government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in the area of human rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of this issue for political purposes and the double standards that characterize its use. … 

“The deaths of civilians caused by U.S. troops in various latitudes, and the use of torture merit condemnation; as well as the murder of African Americans by police and migrants by border patrols; the deaths of unaccompanied minors in immigration detention, and the abusive and racially disproportionate use of the death penalty. …  

“In the United States, there are 2.3 million individuals incarcerated, a quarter of the planet’s prison population, and in one year 10.5 million arrests are made.

“Opioid overdoses kill 137 U.S. residents every day and, for lack of proper treatment, 251 die of heart disease and 231, prematurely, of cancer. 170 preventable daily amputations are performed, associated with diabetes. 

“[The] repression and police surveillance of immigrants, the separation of families, the separation of parents and indefinite detention of more than 2,500 children, and the deportation of 21,000, and brutal measures that threaten the children of [undocumented] immigrants who were raised and educated in the United States are abhorrent. …

“There are 28.5 million citizens without medical insurance, and millions with low incomes will be deprived of coverage with the measures announced. … 

“The blockade also violates the human rights and civil liberties of U.S. citizens, for whom the right to travel to Cuba is unjustly and arbitrarily restricted, the only prohibited destination in the world. The United States government is responsible. …

“On behalf of the heroic, selfless, solitary people of Cuba, I once again ask that you vote in favor of the proposed resolution contained in document A/74/L.6, the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”    

For the full speech, see Bruno Rodríguez: Cuba has been the victim of the most unjust, severe, prolonged system of sanctions that has even been imposed on any country.

What we must do

The vote in the General Assembly was a victory for Cuba. Nobody expects the lawless Trump regime and the capitalist class he represents to obey the U.N. resolution.

That’s our job in the belly of the beast. Activists have to tell about the vicious U.S. blockade in neighborhoods, work places, community colleges and universities. 

A good place to start is to build the 2nd National Conference for the Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations on March 21-22, 2020. For more information, call (917) 887-8710 or email [email protected]

Source, unless otherwise noted: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/11/1050891