The Guardian October 29, 2003


Necessity of ending US blockade of Cuba

On November 4, the United Nations General Assembly will be 
voting on the Resolution titled "Necessity of ending the 
economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United 
States of America against Cuba". Cuba has presented such a 
resolution for 12 consecutive years. Last year, 173 Member States 
voted in favour, three against (including the United States) and 
four abstained.

This confirms a near-total rejection by the international 
community of the US Administration's genocidal policy towards 
Cuba and of the implementation of the Helms-Burton Act and other 
extra-territorial legislation that contravene the UN Charter, the 
principles of International Law and the rules governing economic, 
trading and financial relations among States.

The draft submitted to the Secretary General of the UN points out 
that the so-called embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States 
Government has lasted for more than four decades.

The so-called blockade has the aim of subjugating through hunger 
and disease a people that claims nothing more than its full right 
to self-determination and to defend its sovereignty, well-being 
and dignity.

It is a massive, flagrant and systemic violation of the Cuban 
people's human rights, particularly of the rights to health and 
food, which causes serious humanitarian consequences, the 
Resolution says.

Cuba points out that the present, extreme right-wing, Republican 
government has increased its hostility and prohibitions against 
Cuba to unprecedented levels, ignoring the demands of the 
international community.

An overwhelming and growing majority within the US society itself 
supports a change in policy.

The Resolution lists as evidence of the US's behaviour:

* the repeated and baseless accusations portraying Cuba as a 
threat:

* the increase in illegal radio and television broadcasts to 
Cuba;

* the growth in US funding for internal subversion;

* the encouragement of hijackings of vessels and aircraft and the 
non-compliance with bilateral agreements on migration;

* the links of President George W Bush with the Miami-based mafia 
of Cuban origin which helped him avoid a recount at the 
elections;

* the decision to appoint and promote Cuban-born officials 
hostile to Cuba to key US government posts in the field of 
national security; and

* the announcement of the review of the policy on Cuba with the 
aim of tightening restrictions and the consistently threatening 
discourse implying that military acting against Cuba was not 
discarded.

Despite legislation to the contrary, the White House is 
determined to veto any legislative attempt to facilitate visits 
of its citizens to Cuba alleging: "it is essential to maintain 
sanctions and travel restrictions to deny economic resources to 
Cuba", it said.

The sale of some food products to Cuba should not be seen as a 
more flexible approach by the US administration. On the contrary, 
the complex procedures and the enormous structure of restrictions 
associated to these sales, ignore and run contrary to 
international trade norms.

All purchases have to be paid in cash, as neither private nor 
public credits are allowed; and transportation of merchandise 
bought by Cuba has to be made in non-Cuban vessels.

Furthermore, US companies are not allowed to purchase Cuban 
products.

The extra-territorial Torricelli and Holmes-Burton Acts, in 
addition to breaching the sovereignty of third party States and 
International Law, have caused further severe damage to the Cuban 
economy over the last ten years.

Every sector in the Cuban economy has suffered. The Resolution 
notes that "Of the US$685 million losses in Cuba's foreign trade 
in 2002, as a result of the sanctions, US$178.2 million (26%) was 
directly attributable to the extra-territorial aspect of US 
policy".

"The so-called embargo has seriously affected all Cuba's economic 
and social sectors. Preliminary studies have proved that, as 
regards only the economic impact, the total of Cuba's economic 
losses during more than four decades of embargo, may already 
exceed US$72 billion.

"There are numerous examples of the difficulties faced by the 
educational system as a result of the so-called embargo. Thus, 
the nation's purchasing power to import means and resources for 
Cuban schools has fallen by 25-30% since the early 1990s, as a 
result of having to be acquired from remote markets and sometimes 
at higher prices.

"Agriculture, a sector whose development is key to food 
production and, hence, to raise nutritional standards for the 
Cuban people, suffered losses due to the US so-called embargo 
totalling US$108.5 million.

"For all these reasons, Cuba expects that the international 
community overwhelmingly reaffirms, once more, its condemnation 
to this policy and renews its request to put an end to this 
'economic, commercial and financial embargo maintained by the 
United States government against Cuba'".

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