Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations,  Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations,  Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, at the debate on item 131, entitled “Global Health and Foreign Policy”, within the framework of the UNGA 75th  session.
New York, 7 December 2020

Mr. President,

In addition to its impact on the lives of millions of people, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing serious socio-economic consequences for all countries, jeopardizing the achievements earned in terms of sustainable development, including health. 

We, the developing countries will pay the highest costs, since the very impact of the pandemic adds up to the socio-economic effects arising from the current unjust international order. We will make little progress in terms of global health as long as an order that favors a minority and deprives the majority lingers.

At the same time, it is necessary to prevent the urgency to tackle the impact of the COVID-19 from causing us to lose sight of the challenges we already had regarding global health, and which also excessively affect the poorest countries, such as the HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and non-communicable diseases, among others. 

It is an untenable paradox that our world has so much scientific development and so many economic resources and that millions of people are dying from treatable or preventable diseases. This is also a repercussion of the current unjust international order.

Mr. President,

It is disturbing that the context of the pandemic is being used by some to resort to unilateralism. Some countries have unleashed an unbridled and irresponsible race to secure, only for themselves, the means necessary to address the pandemic, while tightening the application of unilateral coercive measures, which are contrary to the UN Charter and International Law. 

The UN Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights have called for the lifting of such measures within the current context, since the countries impacted by them face additional challenges as compared to the rest, in coping with the pandemic.

Apart from the COVID-19, Cuba has had to face, the unparalleled intensification of the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States for 6 decades, tightened even with unconventional warfare methods, which constitutes a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people, and is the main obstacle to our economic and social development.

Between April 2019 and March 2020 alone, the blockade has caused losses to Cuba by over 5 billion dollars, out of which more than 160 million correspond to the health sector. The accumulated damage in this sector in six decades of implementation of this policy amounts to over 3 billion dollars. How much more could have Cuba done for the health of its population, or in support of the efforts of other developing nations, including in the context of the COVID-19, if it had been able to have all these resources available, of which it is illegally deprived? 

The blockade denies Cuba the acquisition of technologies, raw materials, reagents, diagnostic kits, medicines, devices, equipment and spare parts necessary for the better performance of its public health system. Not having the right medication or technology at the right time to save a life, causes suffering and despair, which can never be quantified.
 
The genocidal nature of this policy has been exposed again in these times of pandemic. The United States has taken advantage of this juncture to deprive the Cuban people of mechanical ventilators, masks, diagnostic kits, protective glasses, reagents and other supplies for the treatment of this disease, which make the difference between life and death of patients and of the health personnel who treat them.

As if this were not enough, amid the current global health emergency, the United States has launched a crusade to try to disparage and hamper, on the basis of false and mendacious allegations, the international medical cooperation Cuba offers, and which constitutes a genuine example of South-South cooperation. 

By doing so, that country is putting at risk the access of millions of people in the world to quality health services. It behaves in this manner because it cannot accept that, despite the blockade, Cuba has been able to send 52 medical brigades to 39 countries and territories, to contribute to the fight against the COVID-19. 

Mr. President,

We are convinced that the solution to today's global problems, including those relating to the health of human beings, will depend on the privilege that is given to multilateralism, international cooperation and solidarity. 

In the common efforts to face the COVID-19 pandemic and other global health challenges, the world can always count on Cuba's voice and modest contribution.

Thank you very much.

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