TRANSCRIPTION OF THE REMARKS MADE BY Mr. BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, AT THE PRESENTATION, TO THE NATIONAL AND FOREIGN MEDIA, OF THE UPDATED NATIONAL REPORT BY VIRTUE OF RESOLUTION 75/289 OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENTITLED “NECESSITY OF ENDING THE ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL EMBARGO IMPOSED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AGAINST CUBA” (AUGUST, 2021 - FEBRUARY, 2022).
I thank you all for your attendance.
I do not know if you watched the images of the waterspout and the lightning over the Morro Castle. Do we have those images? (the images are shown on a screen). Let’s hope these didn’t cause any damage.
I thank your for your attendance.
On November 3 and 4, the United Nations General Assembly will consider, for the thirtieth time, the agenda item entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.
This will take place in a particular context, characterized by the devastating effects of hurricane Ian; the impact of a global multi-dimensional crisis that includes an international economic crisis and an imminent threat of a global recession; a food crisis; an energy crisis and a health crisis, among others. This context is also characterized by the unprecedented tightening of the embargo against Cuba, which dates back from the second half of 2019, as a result of a policy implemented by the preceding US Republican government, intended to suffocate our economy, impose an economic warfare and deliberately bring about the collapse of the Cuban economy and the entire country, without weighing up the serious humanitarian consequences or the impacts of that purpose, which will never be achieved although it will undoubtedly have unforeseeable consequences.
The report, which is available on-line to all of you and our people, our country and the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Havana, reveals these impacts.
It is not that the embargo has adopted a new design. It has rather adopted a better surgical design, targeting each of the main sources of income of the country, viciously pursuing to increase its impact on the everyday life of our population, based on the best expression of that policy, which is the Memorandum drafted by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lester Mallory in April, 1960, recognizing that the purpose of the embargo was “to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation, hardship and overthrow of government”. The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 codified that same policy. The maximum pressure measures against Cuba as well as the more than 200 additional embargo sanctions applied by President Donald Trump are pursuing the same cruel goals.
I will give you some new data. Between August, 2021, and February, 2022, the losses caused by the embargo amount to some 3.8 billion dollars. It is a historical record for such a short time as these seven month period. According to very conservative data, Cuba’s GDP, despite the adverse circumstances facing the Cuban economy, could have grown by 4.5 per cent during that period, should these measures had not been applied.
During the first 14 months of President Biden’s administration, the damages caused by the embargo amounted to 6.3 billion dollars, which is also a historical record. This means that the damages caused were worth more than 454 million dollars per month and more than 15 million dollars per day.
The damages caused over six decades, estimated on the basis of current prices, amount to 154 billion dollars. This is an exorbitant figure for a small, underdeveloped Island State economy without huge natural resources like Cuba. However, based on the price of gold, that is to say, the ounce of gold; and taking into account gold devaluations, the accumulated damages would reach the enormous figure of 1.391 trillion dollars; that is to say, one million million plus more than 391 billion dollars. You may just imagine… our people may just imagine what Cuba might have done, should it had those resources. How Cuba would be like today if this country had had those resources?
The economic embargo is the key element defining the nature of the US Cuba policy. It was strengthened to unprecedented levels under President Trump’s administration.
President Joseph Biden’s current policy towards Cuba is the same ill-fated and inertial Republican policy. No changes have been introduced in that policy.
Its surgical design aimed at persecuting every source of income, financing or supplies to Cuba is maintained and implemented on a daily basis. Those are the regulations in force and that is the current practical behavior of the US authorities.
Its impact therefore acquires a greater dimension and from the humanitarian point of view is ever more perverse and harmful.
The embargo has acquired an aggressive quality it had not had in the past.
Despite the positive announcements made in May of 2016 by the US authorities which were pointing to the right direction –despite being extremely limited in scope and almost inapplicable- neither the scope nor the strength of the embargo has in any way been modified.
The performance of the Cuban economy in the last two years has been inexorably marked by the combination of these impacts with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the exorbitant expenses our country was forced to incur into and the consequences of international crises, including the most recent increase in the prices of foodstuffs and fuels.
The existence of the embargo is a reality that can not be hidden. No one could seriously or wholesomely assert that the embargo does not exist or that it is a mere pretext.
The embargo is absolutely tangible and affects every Cuban family, Cubans residing in the United States as well as US citizens, persons and companies from anywhere in this planet.
It is intended to impair the country’s ability to meet the fundamental needs of the population.
The embargo provokes direct and extreme damages due to the comprehensive structure of its measures, but at the same time it pursues the cruel and pragmatic purpose of depriving the country from the financial incomes that are indispensable to acquire supplies, equipment, spare parts, technology, software, and in this sense it also cause damages. So is the case, for example, of foodstuffs. In the midst of scarcities, there is a shortage of supplies, long queues and anxiety among the population in addition to the difficulties that exist even to ensure the basic basket, which requires a very efficient effort from the Government and other entities; or to ensure the daily livelihood of people.
It is true that Cuba can buy foodstuffs in other markets; and it is also true that it buys foodstuffs even in the United States. But the embargo deprives Cuba from the financial resources that are indispensable to make such purchases in the United States or make similar purchases in third markets. I will go back to this topic later on.
The national power generation system is going through an extremely serious situation, resulting from grave restrictions, the lack of fuels to some extent in some cases, but mostly because of the obstacles we face to buy spare parts and other resources, since the country has been deprived from the funds that are indispensable to do so, despite the fact that the embargo prevents us from using American technologies or buying in US markets. That is to say, the embargo has a dual effect that should necessarily be taken into account.
The embargo is not only bilateral; it is also extraterritorial. It operates directly, but at the same time it deprives the country from financial resources in areas where there are no specific bans on the purchases in third markets.
Cuba can in no way or place buy technologies, equipment, spare parts, digital technologies or software containing more than 10 per cent US components, which has a direct impact that’s is as serious as the lack of hard currency to ensure supplies.
The measures of direct, financial or physical persecution, extortion and intimidation; and the effect of the high country-risk resulting from these actions, are aimed at persecuting each and every one of our commercial, investment or financial transactions, for they place the supplying companies in a serious dilemma.
So is the case of financial and banking relations. Dozens of banks refuse to operate with Cuba for fear of being fined by the US. Others find themselves forced to reach agreements based on illegal and extraterritorial actions carried out by the US government to avoid those fines. The embargo hinders the presence of the Cuban financial system in the international financial system.
The direct persecution of manufacturers, carriers, forwarders, shipping companies, insurance and re-insurance companies gravely hinders our fuel purchases by making them even more than one third or even 50 percent more expensive.
Obviously, this situation has have to be confronted with emergency measures and our people understand and are aware of the daily difficulties we all face; they support the investments and stopgap measures that the Government has rigorously and efficiently carried out to cope with the power generation emergencies and other needs. Such is the case, for example, of blackouts.
Here are some new data. Between January of 2021 and February of 2022 a total of 642 direct actions have been reported by foreign banks which, after being threatened by the US financial system, refused to operate with our country. Within that limited period, there have been as many as 642 actions reported by foreign banks. Those are unilateral, coercive and illegal actions according to International Law, the national laws governing the behavior of those banks and the universally accepted standards of the international financial system.
Dozens of diplomatic missions, of Cuban embassies, are currently lacking banking services.
In different latitudes, an ordinary Cuban citizen, a national juridical person, would be forbidden to open private accounts for the mere fact of being a Cuban national, which is profoundly discriminatory.
The country’s capacity to manufacture medicines has been seriously hampered due to the reasons I have already mentioned. Cuba manufactures 60 per cent of the essential medicines it needs. However, in order to manufacture those medicines, it needs not only some raw materials, spare parts and components; it also needs, of course, funds, which the oppressive and comprehensive implementation of the embargo prevents from reaching our country.
In the face of these adversities and the hostility of the US government, our country will keep moving on and will not stop renewing itself.
Cuba changes every day and will continue to change. Cuba is being continuously renewed. What never changes, what is never renewed and is anchored in the past is the embargo policy.
We defeated the Covid-19 pandemic with our own vaccines. However, the US government, at the peak of the pandemic, applied exemptions, that is, it waived the application of the coercive and unilateral measures imposed against tens of countries, and relaxed their implementation temporarily out of humanitarian reasons. So those countries that were subject to a sanctions regime were allowed to buy vaccines, medical oxygen and ventilators.
Why was not Cuba included in the group of countries that were benefited by these temporary exemptions? This was a deliberately cruel action. It is the confirmation that the embargo also suffocates and kills.
The US government hindered our medical oxygen purchases in third countries when our main medical oxygen plant went out of order, thus creating a national crisis. However, we did not have to regret the loss of human lives thanks to the extraordinary and effective effort of our people, the armed forces, our health system and the Government.
The embargo prevented the acquisition of ventilators. But we did not stop. We manufactured our own ventilators with Cuban prototypes.
The Cuban economy is going through great difficulties. Transformations as well as the increasing autonomy of socialist state-owned enterprises have never stopped. The expansion and registration of thousands of new micro, small and medium-size companies, both state and private, but particularly private, have not stopped either. The development of science, technology and innovation has become a major pillar for the government management and the transformations that ensure the advancement of our socialist model.
The recently held referendum of the Families’ Code, despite all difficulties, revealed the existence of a majority consensus. The transformations introduced in all spheres of the country are based on the principle of changing everything that needs to be changed and moving on towards a more just, more humane and more democratic socialism for all of our people.
We are making a superhuman effort today to recover the levels of economic activity that have been seriously affected by the circumstances I have just explained.
A very serious work is being carried out to diversify the production matrix. There is an increasing participation of entrepreneurs, as they are called; of state and non state companies in this effort and our development policies are offering increased opportunities for foreign investments.
The embargo continues to limit those efforts. We will never renounce our social justice project.
The rejection of the embargo was one of the most recurrent issues addressed in the speeches delivered by the Heads of State and Government during the recent High Level Segment of the United Nations General Assembly held at the end of September. Forty of them unmistakably called for an end to this policy. Some of them demanded that Cuba should be taken out of the arbitrary, unjust, whimsical, immoral and illegal US government list of States sponsors of terrorism. Others appreciated the cooperation, particularly the international medical cooperation, which Cuba modestly and quietly offers.
The recently held General Debate showed, beyond any doubt, that the embargo policy only brings about isolation and discredit to he US government; that the embargo is opposed by the majority of the US citizens and most Cubans who reside in the United States; that is rejected almost unanimously by the international community and that it should be lifted, because the world has changed and some US administration will have to lift it.
There is a universal rejection against a criminal policy that has not achieved the goals it envisaged, although it has caused a lot of human damage. It causes hardships on a daily basis at dinner time, when Cuban families gather during a blackout in the evening. Our people suffer when they realize it is difficult to guarantee the medicines that an ill person requires.
Cuba has the right to live without a embargo. It has the right to live in peace. Cuba would be better off without a embargo; it would be better off without a embargo. We would all be better off without a embargo. The United States would be a better country without the embargo against Cuba. The world would be a better place without the embargo against Cuba.
Thank you, very much.