The Guardian • Issue #2091

Exclusive Interview

Cuban Ambassador Tanieris Dieguez La O

Cuban Ambassador HE Tanieris Dieguez with Andrew Irving.

Cuban Ambassador HE Tanieris Dieguez with Andrew Irving.

AC: Ambassador, the US blockade of Cuba has had devastating effects on the lives of ordinary Cubans. What are some of the struggles Cuban people have been facing in the last few months?

As you rightly say, the blockade has had a significant impact on all spheres of social life of the Cuban people. The policy of harassment and suffocation generates great problems for the economy and directly impacts on the development of the Cuban people, in their daily lives.

The policy of hostility of Donald Trump’s government against Cuba introduced unprecedented measures, extremely detailed. All spheres of our society and the daily life of citizens suffered the impact, accentuated in a very significant way by the pandemic.

More than 240 measures were recorded. Most of them constituted actions to tighten the blockade with the aim of economically suffocating the country, subverting the internal order, creating a situation of ungovernability and overthrowing the Revolution.

The following measures were particularly restrictive:

The inclusion of Cuba on the State Department’s list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism.

The possibility of action in US courts for lawsuits brought under Title 3 of the Helms-Burton Act.

Sanctions or threats of sanctions against shipping companies, carriers, insurers or reinsurers involved in the supply of fuel to Cuba.

The attack on international medical cooperation provided by our country.

The creation of a list of restricted entities and accommodations. Among them are the remittance processing companies in Cuba, and the overwhelming majority of Cuban hotels.

The prohibition of exporting to Cuba any product produced in any country if that product has 10 per cent or more US components.

MP Sharon Claydon’s motion on Cuba mentions that the US blockade has had a severe impact on investment and trade. Cuba has ingenuity in so many crucial areas like agriculture, biotechnology, scientific research, cancer research. How important is the financial and commercial aspect of the blockade?

I would particularly like to mention the inclusion of Cuba in the State Department’s list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism, which has had serious consequences mainly in the financial and banking sector. Just to mention one example, between January 2021 and February 2022, for example, 642 actions of foreign banks refusing to provide services to the country were reported; Cuban diplomatic missions in the world have lost their relationship with the banks that traditionally provided them with services, which affects the operation of these and the consulates, and the payment of Cuba’s financial obligations to several international and regional organisations has been affected.

The impact of the Blockade is so far-reaching because it is not limited to prohibiting bilateral trade between the two countries.  It aims to and succeeds in damaging Cuba’s economic and commercial relations in any corner of the planet, often bypassing the sovereign prerogatives of other countries. It prohibits the export to Cuba of any product or technology that has a certain percentage of US components. It threatens the banks of any country, intimidates commercial companies, and takes coercive measures against businessmen and even against large companies from any part of the world.

It thus generates enormous obstacles for the development of the country, raises the costs of all economic operations, whether public or non-state, builds walls, pressures third parties, persecutes our international transactions, establishes fences. The aim is to isolate Cuba internationally, from the political, commercial, banking and financial points of view. The idea is to disconnect Cuba from a world dominated by the US.

That is why actions such as those that took place in the Australian Parliament are of great importance, because they show that Cuba is not alone, that in every corner of the world there are people who love us and who oppose this policy that is not only obsolete and failed, but cruel and inhumane.

The “Yes, I Can” (Yo si puedo) Cuban literacy program has been doing wonders. It’s yet another initiative that shows how Cuba contributes to world progress. The program has been especially helpful for Indigenous people. How do you view the struggle of Indigenous people in this country?

Cuba has been collaborating for more than a decade with Australia’s indigenous peoples. The Cuban method “Yo si puedo,” which is also the pride of the Cuban school of pedagogy, is used successfully in the territories of the indigenous peoples. The Australian foundation “Literacy for Life” has been our partner in order to carry out our collaboration.

The literacy of the indigenous peoples of Australia through this method has not only had an impact on education, but also on social issues, with better levels of access to work, lower crime rates, and better overall participation in social and cultural life.

This is one more example of what Cuba has done and is doing despite the blockade. we do not give what only what we can spare, but we share what we have with the peoples of the world This is part of our principles and our culture.

The Cuban people are a generous people, who have resisted despite the difficulties created by the blockade. That is why we must ask ourselves what Cuba could do if the blockade did not exist, how much more we could help the most disadvantaged in the world. The examples of our doctors in moments of extreme complexity in very difficult scenarios are an expression of that generosity of the Cuban people in the fight against Ebola in Africa, in the fight against Covid more recently.

What’s one thing about Cuban culture and Cuban tradition that people should know more about?

Cuba is a beautiful country. A magical island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. We have not only beautiful beaches, nature tourism, amazing places to visit and learn, we have a very significant culture.

Several Cuban places have been declared World Heritage by UNESCO. We have creative cities like Santiago and Havana, and also Trinidad.

Cuban music is recognised all over the world and we have artists of the highest level, the bolero for example,with a lot of tradition behind it. There is also the dance, the national ballet of Cuba is a paradigmatic institution of Cuban culture, ranked among the best in the world. It is not only the musical and dance expressions that distinguish us.

Last year the knowledge of the Cuban rum makers was declared an item of the intangible heritage of humanity, like the French Parthnon.

Above all Cuba has a sacred patrimony in its people, in the warmth and hospitality of the Cubans, the kindness, and the affection that we offer is also part of our traditions.

We in the Communist Party of Australia have long supported the Cuban revolution and Cuba’s socialist orientation. What can we do to further support the Cuban struggle?

All efforts around the world are important. On behalf of the Cuban people, I would like to thank the Communist Party of Australia for its support over the years.

We are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Southern Cross Brigade this year in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of bilateral relations between Cuba and Australia. It’s a good time continue the work and strengthen relations between our peoples.

For Cuba the work of the Australia Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS) and the CPA is of utmost importance. We have received support in all areas, not only from the political point of view, but also help to our hospitals, to our children, to local projects in areas such as the Ciénaga de Zapata and we are grateful for all these gestures because we know that they are made with great effort and affection.

We must continue to debunk the misinformation against Cuba. I think we can do more in the international mobilisation, not only from the political point of view but also economically. We must continue to denounce the blockade, its impact on the development of the Cuban people and other people.

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