Statement by Ambassador Yuri Ariel Gala López, Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN, in the exercise of the right of reply New York, Thursday, 3 November 2022.

Mr. President,

This agenda item should not be distorted with fallacious accusations by the U.S. delegation when this Assembly has overwhelmingly sent an unequivocal message on the urgency of ending the blockade against Cuba.

In his speech, the representative of the U.S. government stated that they are concerned about the Cuban people. How can your government justify using the COVID-19 pandemic to reinforce its inhumane blockade against Cuba and prevent us from accessing treatment, purchasing raw materials to produce our own vaccines, pulmonary ventilators and even acquiring medical oxygen?

The United States claims to advocate for individual freedoms in Cuba and has not reversed the restrictions that directly harm Cuban entrepreneurs in areas such as software development, hospitality or services.

If the U.S. government were really interested in the welfare, human rights and self-determination of Cubans, it could lift the blockade and collaborate with our international cooperation.

Mr. President,

Cuba has been and is the object of a filthy campaign, directed by the U.S. government and U.S. politicians. Lies have been one of its fundamental components.

It is false to say that people who peacefully demonstrated on 11 July 2021 were arrested, tried or repressed. Those who committed crimes as part of these disturbances were prosecuted with all legal guarantees, in a clean and transparent manner. No one has been prosecuted for expressing their opinion.

It is inadmissible that they pretend to point fingers at us for enforcing our constitutional order, when precisely in this country more than 800 people have been arrested for the events of 6 January 2021 in Congress. Is the United States the only country in the world with the right to defend its institutionality?

As any other country would do, we will not allow the constitutional order and the political system that Cubans have freely chosen to be broken or subverted in the service of an external agenda of regime change. We will continue to strengthen our legal-institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights, including the right of association, while continuing to ensure the strict application of and respect for our laws.

To desperately justify its hostility towards Cuba, the United States misrepresents the issue of detentions, focusing on minors. Cuban authorities have provided sufficient information to corroborate respect for due process in our country, making it clear that under no circumstances does Cuba apply criminal liability to minors under 16 years of age. 

The only arbitrary detentions and prison confinement for long periods of time that take place in Cuban territory are those carried out by the United States Government at the Guantanamo Naval Base.

Mr. President,

The representative of a country in whose electoral campaigns there are no ethical limits, where hatred, division, selfishness, slander, racism, xenophobia and lies are promoted, where money and corporate interests are the ones that define who will be elected or not, cannot talk about elections and democracy.

Cuba does not need lessons on democracy and human rights, much less from the United States. We will not accept questions of this nature, even more so when they are used to justify the longest and broadest system of unilateral coercive measures ever applied against any State.

The U.S. government should be concerned about its population below the poverty level, repressive policies against migrants, repression of minorities and reproductive rights, lack of gender equality, racism and discrimination against people of African descent, police brutality, over a thousand deaths a year from police shootings, secret prisons, extrajudicial executions and the use of torture.  

Let me mention just two examples of the above, very concretely, Mr. President.

The United States is the only country that is not a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the only country where children under 18 years of age are sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In 2021 alone, there were between 600,000 and 700,000 juvenile arrests in this country, according to the Children's Defense Fund.

Institutional discrimination and unchecked police brutality against people of African descent, Hispanics, migrants, refugees and minorities have reached alarming levels in the United States. African Americans represent only 13 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 36 percent of the total prison population. In 2021, a total of 266 African Americans were killed by police in the United States.

If the United States really wants to be interested in the welfare of the Cuban people it should lift once and for all and without conditions the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

Instead of promoting cooperation and cordial relations towards Cuba, the United States seeks confrontation and openly sponsors a change of political design in the country.

President Biden's administration asked Congress in its 2022 budget for $20 million for so-called programs aimed at promoting democracy in Cuba and almost $13 million for the illegal broadcasts of the misnamed Radio and TV Martí.

This is a conduct contrary to the high sensitivity shown by that country to any attempt or suspicion of interference in its domestic affairs, by means of which it is intended to fabricate a political opposition in Cuba, to fracture the constitutional order.

Mr. President,

The U.S. delegation lies when it cites extremely high figures for exports and humanitarian aid to the country. It cynically uses the multimillion dollar amounts of funds that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) allocates to the subversion in Cuba, as well as the packages that are sent to their families with great effort by Cuban emigrants or the modest donations that, overcoming numerous obstacles, are sent by non-governmental organizations.

There is irrefutable proof that the blockade hindered the main official channels for sending aid to the country, even from third countries, in the midst of the confrontation with COVID-19.

In conditions of pandemic, of international economic crisis, of devastation after Hurricane Ian, the government of the United States would have the moral duty not only to apply exemptions to the blockade as it did with other countries in 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but above all to promote measures to lift or relax the blockade in different areas with executive prerogatives alone.

Mr. President, I conclude my statement in exercise of the right of reply by reiterating the remarks made just a few days ago by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and I quote:

"We have firmly and creatively confronted the application of the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States, opportunistically intensified during the moments we faced the pandemic.

The Cuban people did not yield either to the media and subversive campaigns...No obstacle will be enough to dent our determination to resist, fight and win!"

Thank you.

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