The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US government against Cuba for close to six decades, is the most unfair, severe and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions ever applied against any country. In its essence and goals, it is an act of unilateral aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of our country.
The blockade violates the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, hinder the normal development of international relations and seriously harm the legitimate interests of many States, institutions and individuals throughout the world.
From April 2019 to March 2020, the US government reinforced the blockade against Cuba until it reached unprecedented levels of aggressiveness. In particular, the extraterritorial dimension of this policy has been brutally intensified with the full implementation of the Helms-Burton Act since May 2019. This legislation is an affront to the principles of international law and international trade rules, while it provides for economic pressure actions that are harmful to the sovereignty of Cuba and third countries.
Other measures harmful to the Cuban economy and people applied during this period are: the increased persecution of Cuba’s financial and commercial transactions, the siege to deprive the country of fuel supplies, the ban on flights from the US to Cuban provinces outside Havana and the campaign to discredit Cuban medical cooperation programs.
As part of this crusade the US government has spread slanders and has gone so far as to require other countries to refrain from requesting it, even in the midst of the health emergency created by COVID-19 in the world.
With these procedures, perfectly qualified as sabotage in pandemic times, the US government directly attacked a program based on the most genuine UN conceptions of South-South cooperation, which is also recognized by the international community and enjoys the praise of the highest officials of the UN and several of its agencies.
Despite its actions, the US government has not been able to prevent that until July 1st, 2020, more than 3 thousand Cuban collaborators, organized in 38 medical brigades, contribute to the fight against this pandemic in 28 countries and 3 non-autonomous territories. The more than 28 thousand Cuban health professionals who were already providing their services in 59 nations before COVID-19 have also joined these efforts.
During the period under review, the blockade has caused losses to Cuba by an estimated USD 5,570,300,000. This represents an increase of around USD 1,226,000,000 with respect to the previous period. For the first time, the total amount of damages caused by this policy exceeds the barrier of five billion dollars, which illustrates the extent to which the blockade has intensified at this stage.
At current prices, the accumulated damage over almost six decades of implementation of this policy reaches the figure of USD 144,413,400,000. Taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold in the international market, the blockade has caused quantifiable damages of over USD 1,098,008,000,000.
The impact calculated does not take into account the actions of the US government in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, because it goes beyond the end of the period analyzed.
This information will be included in the report to be presented next year, but for you just to have a reference we can share that in this context, the scourge of a global pandemic such as the COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for Cuba, and the country’s efforts to combat it have been significantly limited by the regulations of the US blockade. The genocidal nature of this policy has been reinforced in the midst of the confrontation with the new coronavirus, since the US government has used it, and in particular its extraterritorial component, to deliberately deprive
In addition to the above actions, the terrorist attack perpetrated against the Cuban Embassy in the United States on April 30, 2020, is also a case in point. The complicit silence of the US government and its inability to denounce or make a public statement about this terrorist act is evidence of its commitment to inciting violence and messages of hatred against Cuba and its nationals, a conduct that encourages the execution of acts of this nature. The political passivity of the US government in the face of an assault rifle attack on a diplomatic mission in the country’s capital calls into question the fulfillment of its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
On May 12, 2020, the US Department of State notified Congress of its decision to list a group of countries, including Cuba, among those certified under Section 40A (a) of the Arms Export Control Act as “countries not fully cooperating” with US anti-terrorism efforts during 2019. With this action, the US government intends to hide its record of state terrorism against Cuba, which has been a permanent instrument of its aggressive policy towards the island.
In the current situation, in which humanity is facing an economic and social crisis accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, whose dimensions nobody is able to predict with certainty, it is more necessary than ever that the international community demands the lifting of the blockade imposed by the government of the United States against Cuba, which constitutes the most complex and prolonged system of unilateral coercive measures ever imposed against any country.
For Cubans living abroad, the blockade regulations are also daily obstacles. They are prevented from opening bank accounts, using certain credit cards or carrying out normal transactions, just because they have Cuban nationality.
As demonstrated, the blockade constitutes the main obstacle to Cuba’s economic and social development and to the well being of Cuban women and men, as well as to the implementation of the National Economic and Social Development Plan (PNDES, in its Spanish acronym) and the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.
No citizen or sector of the Cuban economy escapes the effects of the blockade, which hinders the development that any country has the right to build in a sovereign manner.
The United States has ignored, with arrogance and contempt, the 28 resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly condemning the blockade, as well as the numerous voices inside and outside US territory that advocate the end of this policy.
In this particularly complex context, Cuba and its people are confident that they will continue to have the support of the international community in their legitimate demand to unilaterally and unconditionally end this unjust policy.
Since 1992, the government of Botswana has always supported Cuba at the United Nations, voting each year in favour of the Resolution we present, in an act highly appreciated by the Cuban government and people.
* PATRICIA PEGO GUERRA
(*) H.E. Patricia Pego Guerra is the Ambassador of Cuba to Botswana and Special Representative to SADC.