Statements by Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla to the national and foreign press

Thank you very much; I thank you all for your presence. I must denounce that the government of the United States has decided to exclude the Republic of Cuba from the preparations for the IX Summit of the Americas that will take place in Los Angeles from June 8 to 10 and that it is currently exerting extreme pressure on numerous governments in the region that privately and respectfully oppose such exclusion.

The United States government deceives public opinion and the governments of the hemisphere by saying that it has not yet decided on the invitations. I respectfully urge Secretary of State Blinken to say honestly whether or not Cuba will be invited to the IX Summit of the Americas.

The main axis, according to the preparations for the event, will be health and I must inform our people and international public opinion that at the moment negotiations are taking place in an opaque manner, with many neoliberal elements and many shortcomings, in relation to the real needs of the peoples regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, the structural causes of precarious health systems that led to tragic consequences and caused an extremely high number of deaths in our hemisphere, including the United States of America and that evades substantial cooperation and the elementary financing to be able to address these sequels that are currently being negotiated in an opaque manner, a plan, a so-called Plan of Action on health and resilience of the Americas until the year 2030.

I must say that these negotiations are being held in an obscure manner with the exclusion of Cuba and other member states of the Pan American Health Organization that participate in these processes in contravention of their own mandates.

Cuba, always in a modest but altruistic and persistent way, has offered the possibilities of international cooperation in health that is recognized worldwide. The Latin American Covid vaccines are Cuban, the medical brigades that assisted the Covid emergency in the region, in the hemisphere, in more than 50 countries on the planet, have been Cuban.

The Cuban medical presence in the face of natural disasters and previous epidemics, the provision of tens of thousands of medical scholarships for low-income Latin American, Caribbean, and United States youth, the existence of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana, the Miracle Operation that restored sight to millions of low-income people, Cuba's ability to establish cooperation, transfer state-of-the-art technology, provide pharmaceutical products, vaccines, and novel treatments, the ability to share advanced protocols and medicines in the field of health, would make it convenient, it would redound to the benefit of our peoples if they were taken into account in this process.

With the United States itself, Cuba has supported and proposed cooperation actions in health matters on numerous occasions. I remember in the case of Haiti at various times, particularly after hurricanes and earthquakes, in El Salvador, in Pakistan in disaster situations. We offered and established health cooperation with the United States in Liberia during the Ebola epidemic and with other countries in West Africa. When the terrible events of September 11, 2001, the Republic of Cuba immediately offered medical cooperation, we offered plasma for the wounded people, we offered antibiotics in the face of Anthrax threats, we supplied antibiotics to the then United States Interests Section in Havana, We offered equipment and personnel to use the ultra-micro-analytical system developed by Cuba to carry out massive investigations in the face of the Anthrax outbreak. When the devastating Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Cuba also offered medical personnel and baptized its contingent, which today is known worldwide known by the name of the young American fighter for the Cuban independence, Henry Reeve.

American students have studied and study medicine in Cuba and in the face of the recent and curious offer by the United States government of one million vaccines against Covid, at a time when the country had already vaccinated its entire population, we offered the government of the United States to develop a triangular project with vaccines and health personnel from both countries for the benefit of nations in need in our region, which to date has received no response from the US government.

The United States sends soldiers and not doctors, its pharmaceutical transnationals benefit obscenely from the Covid pandemic. The mechanism that the United States promoted, Covax, has not been able to satisfy its objectives.

The United States government has also made political use of its vaccines. In relation to Cuba, it kept the blockade intensified to extreme levels during the pandemic and took Cuba as a tactical ally. The blockade prohibited the arrival in Cuba, and the acquisition of pulmonary ventilators at times of greatest demand made difficult the acquisition of essential materials and supplies for the industrial escalating of Cuban vaccines against Covid and was clearly established during the days of the Coronavirus crisis with Oxygen supply in our country, at the peak of the pandemic as a result of a breakdown in our main plant, that in order to import oxygen from the United States, specific licenses are required and compliance with exceptions to the blockade to have them pleased.

Cuba never received any offer from the United States government in relation to the pandemic. It is not surprising because the ruthless and cruel application of the blockade in the field of health has been one of the most questionable and notorious elements of the blockade against Cuba. I always remember, I carry in my heart the cases of Cuban girls and boys affected by the blockade, some at the cost of not having the right treatments or suffering pain and prolonged hospitalization. I remember the denunciations at the General Assembly of the United Nations for the prohibition of Cuba from acquiring pediatric catheterization provisions called Amplatzer. I remember the cases of Cuban children whom we were able to save but we couldn’t preserve their eyes affected by retinoblastoma due to the effects of the blockade. I remember the cases of girls and boys, one of whom recently died at the age of 13 with bone cancer, who was unable to receive extendable prostheses.

The blockade suffocates our economy and has also been shamelessly accompanied by a campaign by the United States government against Cuba's international medical cooperation and pressure against third countries trying to deprive them of it.

From the Summit that is intended to exclude Cuba, emigration is raised as another main axis. A document with a long title is also being negotiated behind the backs of international, US, Latin American, and Canadian public opinion: Letter of understanding on migration management and protection of migrants. It is a code that seeks to force the Latin American and Caribbean States to repress migration, to absorb the migrants that the United States decides to process outside its territory, which incorporates elements of the racist, xenophobic, and plundering US vision of our migrants, which does not heed in no way the real causes of migration but that does, however, offer palliatives, stimuli, financing and economic incentives to countries that send migrants to the United States closer to their border to mitigate this process.

With Cuba, however, their recipe is the extreme tightening of the blockade, causing deprivation to Cuban families, the application of the brutal memorandum of Deputy Secretary, Mallory: depressing wages, causing hunger, despair, and the overthrow of the government, is the American recipe in relation to Cuba.

The blockade is the fundamental cause of the problems of our economy and the policy of maximum pressure applied by President Donald Trump and applied today with equal rigor by President Joseph Biden, including the 243 extreme measures of recent years or the brutal escalation that happened in 2019, are determinants of the problems that our people face on a daily basis, the deprivations they suffer, shortages, blackouts, queues, transportation difficulties, prices.

I am now announcing new data with the calculations up to the first half of 2021 of the damages caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States government against Cuba.

Accumulating damages at current prices total 150.41 billion dollars. Taking into account the depreciation of gold in the international market, these damages quantify 1,326,432 million dollars, 1 million of millions plus 326,432 million dollars for a small and underdeveloped economy like Cuba, more than 12 million dollars daily, more than 365 million dollars per month is the impact of the blockade and of course this reality is also reflected in the daily life of all our families and of course, it is also one of the causes of emigration from Cuba, which as everywhere, is fundamentally economic; but in the face of this fact, paradoxically and with profound cynicism, the United States government's behavior in migratory matters has been to cut off the regular migration channels for Cubans to that country, cut off the regular channels, cut off the safe channels and migration and travel of Cubans to the United States.

It is a different policy than the one followed by any other country on the planet, it is selective and it is discriminatory. The United States government fails to comply with its legal obligation, according to the migration agreements signed, and in force, to grant a minimum of 20,000 annual migrant visas. With incredible pretexts, he closed the consular services in Havana, forcing Cubans to travel to Guyana to obtain migrant visas with exorbitant prices imposed by that trip and the requirements that it demands, in addition to a long stay. The United States government has also cut travel channels to and from third countries and follows a policy of imposing obstacles on transit countries reducing visas for Cuban citizens.

The United States government has also severely restricted flights to Cuba, particularly outside of Havana, reduced visa deadlines, and follows a policy of denying visas to Cuban travelers. What is new is that it has imposed, in recent months to third countries the imposition of discriminatory transit visas against Cuban travelers forcing them to reduce their numbers.

On the other hand, with its policy, its propaganda, its legal instruments, and its own migratory practice, the United States government encourages illegal migration and treats irregular Cuban migrants in a privileged manner and with gross political manipulation. The Cuban Adjustment Law is fully in force, which also costs lives.

Its misleading propaganda and its persistent political manipulation in digital networks, in particular some accounts of the State Department and the United States Embassy in Havana, constitute a constant encouragement to irregular, disorderly and insecure emigration.

With this policy, the United States government deceives Cubans who want to emigrate. It is not the transit countries, it is the United States government that has imposed the difficulties suffered by our travelers and migrants, even to arrive or to have a regular transit in third countries.

It is paradoxical because, however, we have just had official migration talks that are, without a doubt, a positive sign. The acknowledgment that the United States government has made in them of the full validity of the agreements is, without a doubt, correct and positive. The acknowledgment that the United States delegation has made to those migratory talks that its government has been failing to comply with the migration agreements, that it has discontinued compliance with them, and the announcement that it wishes to resume the observance, application, and compliance with said agreements are positive signs. It is also the restart of consular services in Havana, although it has been said that they are going to be extremely limited, which is totally unfounded, but this incoherent, contradictory policy of intensifying the blockade and wanting to restrict migration, of pretending the hemispheric discussion of these issues and exclude Cuba, which would have much to say about them and for this reason, I ask the government of the United States, when will they fulfill the obligation of the 20,000 visas? How many visas for Cuban migrants will be granted in 2022? Why will the vast majority of them have to continue traveling to Guyana? Until when will they have to travel to a third country to obtain migrant or traveler visas? What will happen with family reunification?

A third axis of the Summit of the Americas is democracy and Human Rights. In the murky negotiations taking place today, the intention is to impose that the Organization of American States (OAS) certifies all the elections in the region. It is the same OAS of the coup in Bolivia, and it is the intention of the United States historically responsible for coups in our region, and also responsible for the coups in recent decades against progressive governments.

How can a summit focused on democracy take place, having excluded certain Latin American and Caribbean countries at the arbitrary whim of the host? Can anyone think of something more undemocratic? The blockade against Cuba is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of Cubans, of Cuban families in the United States, and Americans as well.

The United States has no moral authority to set itself up as a model in this matter or to criticize others. Health rights, the population below the poverty level, the right to education, to food, the repressive policies against emigration, the lack of protection and attention to low-income sectors, the repression of minorities, the restriction of trade union rights, exploitation and repression of indigenous peoples and cultures, lack of gender equality, racism and discrimination against African-Americans, police brutality and the more than a thousand deaths in the previous year of people by shooting of the police, labor exploitation in private prisons, violence and firearms, the repression of reproductive rights and family planning, wars, secret prisons, kidnappings, extrajudicial executions, the use of torture.

The United States is the only country that is not a part of the Convention on the Rights of Children. According to the survey on Poverty in the United States, published by the Organization in defense of children in 2019, more than 10 million children, 14.4%, lived in poverty, almost half in conditions of extreme poverty. 71% of American children living in poverty are black, 4.4 million children without health care or insurance. According to the American institution Young People Sentenced to Life without Parole and the Center for Juvenile Justice Institution, there are today 2,600 prisoners in the United States serving sentences of deprivation of liberty for life, and life imprisonment since they were minors. According to another US institution, the Children's Defense Fund, there are 10,000 US children under the age of 18 in US prisons. The American Union for Civil Liberties, also from the United States, reports that there are 60,000 people deprived of liberty in the United States under 18 years of old. In 2021, and on average in previous years, there have been between 600,000 and 700,000 arrests of minors in the United States, per year, according to the Children's Defense Fund.

The government of the United States will be able to show little about democracy in this incomplete Summit, after the last presidential campaign, the last presidential elections, the assault on the Capitol, the calls by politicians for sedition, and politics’ corruption. I offer the United States government to discuss these issues bilaterally, multilaterally, or even at the Summit itself, and I ask the State Department if they will allow civil society in the hemisphere to participate without exclusion or will they will be those on the OAS list, which are the non-governmental organizations financed by the United States government, who will be able to access Los Angeles.

Will environmentalists, activists for disarmament, including nuclear disarmament, peace activists, minorities, trade unionists, feminists, indigenous and popular movements, be able to go? I ask directly if the non-governmental organizations if the representatives of the rich Cuban civil society will receive visas to allow their attendance.

The IX Summit of the Americas could still be an opportunity if, in an inclusive manner and on equal terms for all countries, it debated, without exclusions and with sincere commitment, the most pressing problems that affect the continent.

Cuba supports the genuine efforts to promote dialogue, links, and cooperation between our America, the Bolivarian and Martian America, and the United States, between the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States, and the United States government.

The looming exclusion of Cuba would constitute a serious historical setback in relation to the two previous summits, in which Cuba participated on an equal footing, with its firm, truthful voice, but always peaceful, respectful, and constructive. It was invited as a result of the firm demands that many governments of Latin America and the Caribbean make today to the government of the United States so that the exclusion that I denounce does not take place.

It would be surprising if President Joseph Biden moves away from the policy of the government of which he was yet Vice President and which invited Cuba to a Summit for the first time, and even more surprising and paradoxical if he becomes separated from the policy of Republican President Donald Trump, who also invited Cuba to the Lima Summit. He will have to explain himself, I suppose, to his constituents.

The host country of the Summit has no right to impose arbitrary exclusions. It would be a politically motivated decision with no other support than false accusations and the use of double standards to hide the true nature of that exclusion, linked to the internal and electoral politics of the United States.

We support the firm and legitimate decisions of the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity of Nicaragua, distancing itself from the OAS and the Summit. We oppose the exclusion of any country or the participation of illegitimate and spurious representatives, imposed by the United States government.

The United States government should understand that the Latin American and Caribbean regions have changed forever and that there is no room to reinstate the Monroe Doctrine and the Pan-American vision against which José Martí fought and against which we will continue to fight firmly and loyally.

Cuba, which firmly defends unity within the diversity of our America, today deeply thanks to the peoples, and governments that maintain a brave, dignified and supportive position demanding the United States government not to exclude Cuba from the IX Summit of the Americas.

Thank you very much.

 (Cuba Minrex)

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