|Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla|
Distinguished Permanent Representatives;
The United Nations General Assembly will consider today, for the twenty-third time, this issue which is so important to the international community, because it is related to international law, which protects all states, large and small, rich and poor, and guarantees their independence and the exercise of national sovereignty, which is the basis of sovereign equality.
It is also directly linked to the enjoyment of human rights by all persons and by all peoples.
This matter concerns freedom of trade and navigation, which protects the interests of states, companies and individuals.
We are, however, gathered here at a very specific international conjuncture, characterized by serious threats to international peace and security, atrocious wars and terrorist actions of extreme cruelty, the risks posed by the existence of huge nuclear arsenals and outrageous military expenditures - useless to the solution of any of the serious problems facing the world’s population, which is rapidly approaching the eight billion.
This is a critical moment in the impact of climate change which, among other catastrophic consequences, can provoke unprecedented famine, generalized extreme poverty in entire regions, and massive waves of migration.
We are living in an age characterized by a systemic global crisis, affecting simultaneously all economic, food, energy and water components.
In addition to poverty, which takes a higher toll on human lives than war, there is an increased risk posed by serious diseases like the Ebola virus, an epidemic which could become one of the worst pandemics in history, if it is not stopped and resolved in the affected sister nations of Western Africa, through the immediate, effective cooperation of all countries.
As was recently stated by President Raúl Castro Ruz, “Such a noble and urgent endeavor demands the indispensable commitment and dedication of every nation in the world, in accordance with the ability of each. We are of the opinion that this grave problem should not be politicized, to avoid the risk of losing track of the main objective, which is helping to confront the epidemic in Africa and prevent its expansion to other regions.”
Thus created is an unprecedented combination of problems, old and new, leading toward making human life unsustainable. None of these can be resolved if there is no change in our attitude, in the manner in which we confront and attempt to transform reality, and establish genuine cooperation in the interest of humanity’s survival.
As was recently written by compañero Fidel Castro, “Any conscious person knows that political decisions which involve risks to highly qualified personnel imply a high level of responsibility on the part of those who call upon them to fulfill a dangerous task. It is even more difficult than sending soldiers, who have also done so as their duty, to combat and die for a just political cause.
“The medical professionals who travel to any location whatsoever to save lives, even at the risk of losing their own, provide the greatest example of solidarity a human being can offer …”
It is a fact that, in recent times, the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba has been tightened and that its extraterritorial application in all regions of the world has been intensified, in particular with the levying of huge, unprecedented fines of some 11 billion dollars against 38 banks, among them the French bank BNP Paribas, for processing transactions with Cuba and other countries.
The accumulated economic damages, which are huge for a small economy like ours, amount to 1,112,534,000,000 dollars, estimated on the basis of the price of gold, which is being manipulated by those who created the nefarious monetary system currently in force, and is being affected by the impact of an insurmountable crisis, and batters the poorest countries.
Human damages caused by the blockade are on the rise. The number of Cubans who have been born under these circumstances has already reached 77% of the population. The hardships families face are incalculable. There are many international conventions which proscribe the blockade, including the Geneva Convention of 1948 against genocide. The exercise of human rights by an entire people is being impaired. The economic development of the country is seriously hampered.
Although our health and social care systems manage to prevent the loss of human life, no honest person, whether in the United States or the world, could agree with the devastating consequences caused by the blockade.
Despite all of this, our national culture, our education and protection of equal rights and opportunities, allow us to be a cultured and fraternal nation.
On both sides of the Florida Straits, the peoples of the United States and Cuba have always shared close ties.
Despite the systematic, slanderous campaigns launched against our country over half a century, the U.S. people supported the return to his family of a Cuban child kidnapped in 1999.
Cuba offered all possible assistance in the immediate aftermath of the terrible terrorist actions occurred on September 11, 2001, when thousands of aircraft in flight were left without a place to land, and, later on, to alleviate the deficit of antibiotics, at the time of the anthrax attacks in the United States.
In 2005, truly concerned about the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, we offered our medical cooperation to the people of New Orleans, a moment that led to the creation of a medical contingent specialized in the management of disasters and epidemics - which bears the name of Henry Reeve, a heroic young U.S. citizen who fought for the independence of Cuba back in the 19th century - now being deployed in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. This prestigious name identifies the brigade which in 2005 assisted Pakistan in the aftermath of an earthquake there, and continued to engage in productive cooperation with the U.S. military medical personnel, which had already begun in El Salvador, after the earthquake of 2001, and later in Guatemala in the 2002 and 2003, to treat onchocerciasis, known as “river blindness.”
In 2010, after the earthquake in Haiti, the United States and Cuba also cooperated to assist that long-suffering nation.
The Cuban Government has invariably shared with the U.S. government reports on terrorist actions and attacks against the United States being planned.
Despite the old tensions, and the attempts by violent extremists and terrorist groups to inflame these, there has been no war, no young U.S. soldier has died in Cuba. Cuba, despite being slandered, has never been a threat to the national security of the United States.
There is no hostility between our peoples. Cuba hospitably welcomes the few U.S. citizens who are allowed by their government to visit our country, or who face the legal risks which may result from doing so, as well as those who come to offer humanitarian assistance, such as members of “Pastors for Peace,” or to study Medicine.
Well known are opinion polls showing increasing majority support from absolutely all sectors of U.S. society for the lifting of the blockade, and normalization of bilateral relations. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that this support is even more marked in Florida, something also confirmed by voting trends observed during the most recent Presidential elections.
Political figures from diverse tendencies, as well as outstanding scholars, have recognized that this policy has failed to meet its purpose, and has not served the national interests of this powerful country. Suffice it to read the editorials published by The New York Times in recent weeks.
Religious leaders have cited legitimate and indisputable ethical and humanitarian reasons for a change.
U.S. citizens are demanding the freedom to travel to the only place on the planet where they are prohibited from doing so, as well as for the right to receive direct, personal information about Cuba’s reality.
Entrepreneurial organizations and business people believe that the blockade harms their economic interests. Majority public opinion is opposed to maintaining the current state of affairs and is expressing this in an ever more critical way.
Cuban émigrés have been affected by discriminatory measures, and must cope with numerous obstacles hindering family reunification, travel in both directions, the excessive costs imposed on them, political manipulation and even terrorist violence. But the majority wishes peace and wellbeing for their relatives and their people, and a normal relation with their nation of origin.
What’s the point of encouraging the illegal use of information technologies instead of authorizing mutually beneficial business in the area of telecommunications? What’s the point of preventing Cuba’s connection to nearby underwater cables, thus limiting and hindering our connectivity?
The blockade is harmful to Cuba, but it is also harmful to the United States.
The absurd and ridiculous inclusion of Cuba on the list of state sponsors of international terrorism, which has been used to justify the imposition of additional financial sanctions, only serves to discredit the United States.
The 16 years of unjust imprisonment imposed by fraudulent means on the three Cuban anti-terrorist fighters has not weakened them. Quite on the contrary, it made them heroes and an example for future generations of Cubans, as well as a source of pride for those whose sacrifices contribute to paving the way toward a new Cuba.
The decision to lift the blockade will be welcomed on a global level, and will become a unifying influence in the interest of peace and the peaceful resolution of conflicts and differences.
After the limited but positive measures of 2009 and 2011 regarding family visits, remittances sent by Cubans settled in the U.S. and travel licenses for certain categories of U.S. citizens to engage in exchanges of various sorts, the technical dialogue has been expanded to include other aspects, and cooperation has increased in areas such as the confrontation of drug trafficking, transnational crime, trafficking in persons, oil spill prevention, search and rescue operations, air and aviation safety, or in the event of any other specific occurrence.
The reaction on the part of U.S. society and the international community to these modest advances has been one of support and encouragement.
President Barack Obama has the constitutional prerogative, with no Congressional support required, to modify crucial aspects of the blockade and introduce a new, decisive dynamic in our bilateral relations.
We invite the government of the United States to establish a mutually respectful relationship, based on reciprocity, sovereign equality, the principles of international law and the UN Charter.
We can attempt to find a solution to our differences through respectful dialogue and cooperation in areas of common interest. We can live and relate to each other in a civilized manner, despite our differences.
Cuba will never renounce its sovereignty, or the path freely chosen by its people to build a more just, efficient, prosperous and sustainable socialism. It will never forego its quest for a different international order, nor cease in its struggle for “the equilibrium of the world.”
Distinguished Permanent Representatives and delegates;
At this difficult and special conjuncture, I must ask you to vote in favor of draft Resolution A/69/L.4 entitled “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America on Cuba,” to support the idea that the current serious problems facing humanity require a change in our way of relating to one another, to be able to resolve these problems, to preserve peace and human life.
Thank you very much.