The blockade is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of Cuban men and women

Statement by His Excellency Mr. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, on agenda Item 43, “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”, at the Seventy Third Session of the United Nations General Assembly. New York, November 1st, 2018. “Year 60 of the Revolution.”

(Stenographic Versions – Council of State)

Madam President;

I would like to convey my condolences to the people and authorities of the city of Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania, and the United States for the incidents that took place at the synagogue The Tree of Life, which resulted in 11 persons dead. 

Our condolences are likewise conveyed to the people and authorities of Indonesia for the air crash occurred on October 29 last which claimed the lives of 189 persons.

Madam President;

Excellencies, Permanent Representatives;


On June 25, 2018, a 181 days-old boy named Adam López Macías underwent a surgery aimed at correcting a congenital malformation that consisted in a transposition of the great arteries, an anatomical problem characterized by an improper connection of these arteries, which posed a threat to his life.  The surgery lasted 5 hours. His delicate condition, plus a subsequent hypotension –or low blood pressure- and bradycardia –a slow heartbeat-, forced doctors to keep his small sternum open until June 29, that is, for 96 hours.

The blockade prevents Cuban children who suffer from postoperative low cardiac output –that is, insufficient volume of blood pumped out by the heart-, which is the most frequent complication after a pediatric heart surgery, from receiving what is considered the best therapy, which is the “Advanced Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device” that is manufactured and patent-protected by the US companies Heart Ware International Inc. from Massachusetts, and Thoratec Corporation from Pleasanton.

How can the pain suffered by this young boy and his family be measured?

Adam managed to recover thanks to the professionalism and dedication of his Cuban medical staff and the efforts made by an entire country.

On December 13, 2017, the girl Rosa Esther Navarro Ramírez, who was born on the 37th week of pregnancy, had to undergo surgery.  She was 1 year and two months old at that moment and suffered from a Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Drainage –a condition whereby oxygenated blood gets mixed with deoxygenated blood.

She then suffered from a ventricular fibrillation –that is, rapid and disorganized heartbeats-, and for 27 days, a period of great anguish for her parents, she was treated for a pulmonary hypertension –that is, an increased blood pressure in the small pulmonary arteries of the girl-, without being able to receive the ideal medication to treat this condition, which is the inhaled nitric oxide, a product that cannot be immediately obtained for an emergency situation or transported by plane, for it is a flammable and explosive substance that requires to be transported by sea under special conditions.  If the blockade didn’t exist, that beneficial pharmaceutical, as well as the system required to administer it, would have been expeditiously requested from a US company that manufactures and supplies both, such as Datex Ohmeda.

Rosita’s life was saved despite the cruelty of this policy.

A thirteen year old girl from the province of Guantánamo, with a malignant spinal tumor; and a 5 year old boy from Havana with a tumoral mass located between the brainstem and the cerebellum (in the cranial fossa), whose names I should not disclose for obvious reasons, could not be treated with Temozolomide, the optimal medication to treat this condition, which is manufactured in the United States, although they have fortunately recovered from their disease.
The company Illumina is the world leader in Next Generation Sequencing, (NGS) which guarantees the most accurate cancer diagnosis and is the basis for precision medicine and personalized therapies.  The suppliers of personalized drugs often require that type of diagnosis before supplying them.

In 2017, 224 persons per every 100 000 inhabitants died in Cuba without being able to access those therapies due to the blockade.

Last year, more than 30 US companies such as Agilent, Cook Medical and Thermo Fisher Scientific either refused to sell to the company Medicuba the pharmaceuticals, supplies and equipment which are indispensable for our health system or failed to respond to the Cuban company’s reiterated requests.

No mother in this room or this planet could help feeling moved by such cases as the ones described.

The human damage caused by the blockade, which qualifies as an act of genocide under Article 2 (b) and (c) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, are incalculable.  It is even considered a violation of International Humanitarian Law in times of conflict. Human suffering, Madam President, is impossible to calculate.

The purpose of the blockade, a policy that is anchored in the Cold War, has remained unchanged over time.
The infamous classified memorandum drafted by the US Assistant Secretary of State, Lester Mallory, on April 6, 1960, is what guides the current US administration Cuba policy, for it stated, and I quote: “…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 of Cuba (…) denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government”, end of quote.

We feel glad that, as an exception, a specific license, that has been in force since 2016, has allowed for the creation of a joint venture between the Marketing Agency of the Center of Molecular Immunology (CIMAB) and Roswell Park Cancer Center, which will make it possible for the therapeutic vaccines, manufactured with Cuban technology to treat head, neck and lung cancer, to be sold in the US.

Cuba will also be allowed, under a specific license that was issued in 2017, to buy 81 000 doses of the hormonal contraceptive Mesigyna from a US subsidiary of the company Bayer.

Furthermore, the blockade is the main obstacle to the flow of information and a much broader access to the Internet and the information and communication technologies by all Cubans, since it hinders connectivity and makes it more expensive in the archipelago; it conditions access to its platforms and technologies and makes use of cyberspace to perpetrate actions aimed at a “change of regime”.

It likewise obstructs cultural, academic, scientific and sport exchanges and those of the civil society.

In exercising this hostile policy, the US government, by resorting to unbelievable pretexts and based on truly political motivations, has failed to comply with the number of immigrant visas for Cubans it had agreed to grant by virtue of the migration accords in force; it has made more difficult and increased the cost of family reunification and temporary travels to its territory and imposed restrictions on family ties.

The blockade is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of Cuban men and women and has been, and still is, an essential impediment to the aspirations of wellbeing and prosperity entertained by several generations.

These policies also affect Cubans living in the US.

The blockade is also oppressive for the US citizens, for it restricts, in an unjust and arbitrary way, their freedom to travel to Cuba, the only destination in the planet that is forbidden to them.

Madam President:

The US government grossly manipulates and politicizes the universal aspiration to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights for all and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the amendments that you [he points to the US ambassador] have presented, with the only purpose of adulterating the nature and focus of the resolution against the blockade which has been approved by this Assembly for 26 consecutive times, in an attempt to fabricate a pretext and seek some sort of international endorsement to keep on tightening the blockade, something that this Assembly, madam ambassador, is not going to give you.

A shameless memorandum circulated by the State Department last week among all accredited diplomats, a copy of which I have here with me [he holds the document high], states so: “Our proposed amendments are intended to address the underlying reason for the embargo.”

Further on, with great cynicism, the US State Department points out: “Last year, direct reference was made to the US embargo undermining collective efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.  And the memorandum goes on by stating the following: “We heard you – meaning, all delegates- loud and clear. Cuba’s actions clearly threaten these SDGs, and in order to fully implement them, we need your support on the amendments”. This truly makes a mockery of this Assembly.
We all know of the little respect shown by the US ambassador and the State Department for this Assembly, which she described last year as being a “political theatre”.

The memorandum that has just been circulated is a true mockery of multilateralism, decency in international politics and this august, universal and democratic Assembly.

Equally noteworthy is the fact that the memorandum resorts to the deceitful recourse of portraying the text of the amendments as if it were a previously agreed language, in order to surreptitiously introduce contents that referred to a different issue, considered by a different body and about a different country. Once again we have been witness to the use of lies, deception and amorality in the political discourse.

What was originally document L.7, with a single 8 paragraphs amendment, was later on turned into 8 separate amendments, with the single intention of creating confusion, overusing time and provoking fatigue in the Assembly.  This, madam ambassador, is  quite a dishonest trick.

If the US government wants to consider and put to the vote initiatives related to human rights or Sustainable Development Goals, we would be willing to do that immediately and before any organization, anytime and under any relevant item of the agenda.

We will continue to encourage dialogue and cooperation as the only way to favor progress in the exercise of human rights and we will continue to actively and constructively participate in the Human Rights Council, its Universal Periodic Review, in cooperation with all, absolutely all its universal mechanisms.

The US government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else when it comes to human rights.  We reject the recurrent manipulation of human rights with political purposes as well as the double standards that characterize it.

Your government is responsible for the commission of crimes against humanity.  It was the one that used a nuclear weapon against civilians. It is the one that develops weapons of mass destruction; currently engages in a new arms race; further improves nuclear weapons, highly lethal conventional weapons and autonomous weapons; and is the one that is militarizing cyber space and outer space.

Your government was the one that established military dictatorships and organized bloody coup d’ etats.  The wars that your government has waged in recent years have claimed the lives of millions of people, many of them innocent; and have caused waves of refugees, with the consequent human suffering. 

Your government has resorted to extrajudicial executions, kidnapping and torture.  It maintains inmates indefinitely imprisoned, in a legal limbo, without any right to a defense attorney, a court hearing or a due process in the prison of the US Naval Base in Guantánamo, a territory it has illegally usurped from our country.

The US government is the author of human rights violations against its own citizens, particularly Afro-Americans and Hispanics, ethnic minorities, refugees and migrants. 

In the midst of the opulence of that country, 40 million US citizens live in conditions of poverty and 52 million live in impoverished communities.  More than half a million sleep in the streets and you have failed to mention them. Twelve per cent of American citizens lack medical insurance and your government will deprive millions of low income persons from it. Quality education is not accessible to the majority that is neither represented nor defended by your government. In the United States, equal opportunities are a pipedream. The government you belong to is a government of millionaires that imposes savage policies.

Women receive 82 per cent of the salary earned by men for an equal job.  If they happen to be Afro-Americans they will earn 64 per cent; and if they are Latin they will earn 62 per cent. Sexual harassment denunciations are generalized.

The average wealth of white families is 7 times as much that of Afro-descendant families.  The mortality rate for African-American infants under one year of age is twice as much that of white infants. Afro-American mothers have from 3 to 4 times more chances to die during childbirth as compared to white mothers, and half of them could survive if they received better medical assistance, something that the State Department has never called for.

There is a differential racial pattern in the composition of the US inmate population, the length of imprisonment terms, the application of the death penalty -which is also applicable to minors and the mentally disabled-; and the atrocious killings of persons who are shot dead by the police.

Your government builds walls, separate children -even young children- from their migrant parents and puts them in cages.

Fake information, the monopoly over communication technological platforms and the generation of contents grow on a par in this country.

The US government unscrupulously interferes in the electoral processes and internal affairs of most States in this planet.

It tries to forcefully overthrow the legitimate government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by launching against it a brutal disparagement campaign and military threats, while calling for violence and a coup d’ etat.

The US interferes in the Republic of Nicaragua and tries to destabilize it.

It perpetrates acts of interference in the internal affairs of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

The US Government intends to exercise its imperial domination in “Our America” and once again invokes the age-old, aggressive and dangerous Monroe Doctrine and the “gunboat diplomacy”.

It is currently redeploying its Fourth Fleet and increasing the amount and power of its military bases in the region.

The United States is party to only 30 per cent of human rights instruments and does not recognize the right to life, peace, development, security, food or the rights of boys and girls. Your withdrawal from the Human Rights Council has come as no surprise to anyone.   

The “special interests”, that is, the corporate interests, have kidnapped the US political system, which is corrupt by definition.

Words and political discourse do matter. They do matter!  Demonizing and turning political opponents, institutions, social groups and nations into enemies through the use of propaganda, helps division, violence, hate crimes and wars to thrive and take root.

The impunity of the gun lobby is the one to blame for the increase of homicides, even of teenagers.

Dirty politics, indecency, amorality, lies, the redesigning of electoral districts out of political convenience and the manipulation of voters are all exacerbated.  Six million low-income US voters were prevented from voting during the last presidential elections and it is quite likely that they will be prevented from doing so on Tuesday next week.  In Florida, 21 per cent of Afro-American voters are not entitled to cast their vote.

Madam President:

The quantifiable damages accumulated as a result of the blockade after almost six decades since its implementation amount to 933.678 billion dollars, taking as a reference the devaluation of the US dollar against the price of gold. At current prices, the damages caused by the blockade are estimated at more than 134.499 800 billion dollars.

Only in the course of last year, the losses caused by the blockade to Cuba amounted to 4.321 200 billion dollars.

With the revenues that Cuba has failed to receive from the export of goods and services, plus the costs associated to the geographical reorientation of trade, which forces our country to keep large  inventories, Cuba’s GDP would have grown by 10 per cent as an average every year, at current prices, during the last decade.
In the light of difficulties, Cuba has managed to achieve economic progress and offered broad and fraternal international cooperation, which your government has sometimes hampered, despite the blockade and the impossibility to access multilateral credits, while achieving human development and social justice standards that have enjoyed universal recognition.

The blockade continues to be the main obstacle to the implementation of both the 2030 National Plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The blockade violates the right of the Cuban people to free-determination, peace, development, security and justice.

The blockade is a violation of the Purposes and Principles of the UN Charter and International Law. It is an act of aggression and economic warfare that breaches peace and international order.

It also infringes the universally recognized rules of trade and freedom of navigation.

It is detrimental to the principles contained in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace and is contrary to the consensus of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the whole world.

It brings about isolation and discredit for the US government and arouses the just rejection of the international community.

Madam President:

We live in an era of increasing threats to international peace and security, proliferation of non-conventional wars, gross violations of the sovereignty of States, policies to exert domination through the use of force, attempts to re-impose a unipolar order, breaches of International Law, threatening and arbitrary breaks with international treaties; multiplication of unilateral sanctions and trade wars, essentially caused by the predatory and supremacist nature of the US imperialism, always inclined to favor neo-liberal fundamentalism, the “philosophy of plunder” and the so called  “peace based on the use  of force”.

Consequently, the serious international problems worsen; poverty and inequality are on the rise; the irrational and unsustainable patterns of capitalist production and consumption are boosted; climate change moves on inexorably, with all its negative consequences; and the nuclear threat is dangerously exacerbated.

There has also been a ferocious intensification of the extraterritorial implementation of the blockade, particularly the persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions and banking and credit operations at a global scale.

More than one hundred banks have requested the closing of the accounts of our embassies and other offices of Cuban entities abroad; they have either retained funds destined to Cuba or have refused to transfer funds to or from our country, even if they are meant for humanitarian purposes, as those aimed at palliating the effects of hurricane Irma in Cuba; or Cuba’s cooperative projects in solidarity with other nations.

The blockade is contrary to the UN Charter and International Law, and its aggressively extraterritorial implementation is harmful to the sovereignty of all States.

Madam President:

Since the military occupation of Cuba by the United States in 1898 aimed at thwarting our independence, which had already been gained after a long-lasting epic campaign, relations between Cuba and the US have been characterized by the efforts made by successive US administrations to control Cuba’s destiny against the unwavering resolve of Cubans to defend their independence and free determination.

Today, Cuba is a totally independent country that has become the master of its own destiny and develops respectful, friendly and cooperative relations with all countries of the world. This has been an achievement attained through the sacrifice of several generations, which we will all defend whatever the cost.
With the United Sates we have diplomatic relations, some episodes of official dialogue and we develop some sort of mutually advantageous cooperation in a limited number of areas.

However, the defining feature of bilateral relations continues to be the economic, commercial and financial blockade that punishes the whole Cuban people, inspired by feelings of domination, ideological intolerance and political revenge.  

We are ready for a peaceful coexistence, despite the profound differences that we have with the US government, based on mutual respect, sovereign equality and both peoples’ benefit.

We Cubans will continue to freely decide on our internal affairs by acting cohesively together, just as we are doing now during the popular discussion of our draft  new Constitution and as we will also do during the next referendum to adopt it. There is no room -nor will it ever be any room- for any interference from a foreign power.

I should denounce that the escalation of statements, actions and threats of the US government against Cuba pursue no other purpose but to create a climate of higher bilateral tensions.  In that plot, the characters with a long history of conspiracies aimed at creating bilateral crises have become all the more visible.

As President Miguel Díaz-Canel expressed in this same podium on September 26 last, and I quote:  “Cuba will always be willing to engage in dialogue and cooperate on the basis of respect and an equal footing.  We shall never make concessions affecting our sovereignty and national independence; we shall not negotiate our principles nor shall we accept conditionalities.”

Cuban men and women of all generations will remain forever faithful to the example of Jose Marti to proclaim, with a similar conviction that: “Before ceasing in our efforts to make the Homeland prosperous and free, the North sea will join the South sea and a snake will hatch from an eagle’s egg.”

Thank you, very much. (Applause)



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