The blockade violates the right to life, health, education and well-being of all Cubans

Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, in the presentation of Draft Resolution A/RES/78/l.5 entitled “Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” New York, November 2, 2023.

Mr. president:


Distinguished Delegates:

The blockade violates the right to life, health, education and well-being of all Cubans.

Our families feel it through shortages in stores, long lines, excessive prices or devalued salaries.

The Government makes great efforts to guarantee the regulated family food basket, which is not enough to satisfy all needs, but meets the essential needs of all families, without exception, at extraordinarily subsidized prices.

For this year, it requires more than 1.6 billion dollars to do so. Only with one third of the amount of the damages caused by the blockade between March 2022 and February 2023, these expenses could have been comfortably covered.

The blockade deprives the national industry of financing for the acquisition of agricultural machinery, animal feed, spare parts for equipment and industry, and other necessary inputs for food production, which is seriously affected.

Under strict licenses, Cuba can commercially acquire agricultural products in the United States, but subject to draconian and discriminatory impositions, which violate universally accepted rules of international trade and freedom of navigation, and forced to buy them paying in advance, and transport them on ships from that nation, which have to return empty to their ports of origin.

While trade is bidirectional throughout the world, Cuba is prohibited from exporting to the United States and cannot access credit, not even private, nor from multilateral financial institutions.

Cuban families suffer blackouts that have been overwhelming at times.

In the case of the energy and mining sector, the damages in that period exceeded 491 million dollars. The main component of the damages is precisely in the national electrical energy system, which totals more than 239 million dollars.

With that money, it would have been possible to guarantee scheduled supplies and maintenance, and the essential spare parts to avoid power outages and ensure the functioning of the electrical industry.

The sick, including children, the elderly, and pregnant women, are hurt by the lack or instability of medications for hospital use, including cancer treatments and heart disease, and people face daily difficulties in acquiring insulin, antibiotics, hypotensive analgesics, and other medications on time. First need.

Our country is capable of producing more than 60% of its basic medicines, levels that have not been guaranteed during this period of extreme intensification of the blockade due to the devious blow to our finances.

Cuba is prevented from acquiring from US companies and their subsidiaries in third countries equipment, technologies, devices, and drugs suitable for final use, which our country is forced to manage, at exorbitant prices, with intermediaries or to replace them with less effective generics, even for newborns and sick children.

With due family consent, I will share with you, with deep pain, the situation of María, a Cuban girl of just 6 years old, who underwent surgery to partially remove a grade 4 tumor, lodged in the intracranial area; and has received the alternative chemotherapy treatment to combat the tumor, but it has not been possible to administer Lomustine, an American drug that cannot be accessed due to the blockade, and which, along with other first-line drugs for this type of high-risk tumors, degree that they affect the central nervous system, it is the most effective treatment.

Today, the little patient is experiencing a relapse and is receiving a rescue chemotherapy regimen. For her, as for other Cuban children, the blockade continues to make the difference between life and death.

Yadier and Abel are 14-year-old teenagers. They suffer from cerebral palsy. This condition causes spasticity, limiting motor function and involuntary movements that they cannot control, which makes their daily life processes difficult.

The dedication of their teachers and other professionals who have accompanied them during these years has allowed them to achieve the greatest possible motor, intellectual, communicational functionality and maximum social integration.

However, how different their lives could be if they were not prevented from directly accessing, in the US market, Botulinum Toxin Type A, an injectable drug that prevents spasms and has encouraging results in this type of patient.

Like many other similar cases, they are direct victims of the ruthless siege of Cuba.

The United States government lies when it states that the blockade does not prevent access to medicines or medical equipment.

In the most difficult moments of the covid-19 pandemic, when the peak of cases had occurred, and our intensive care rooms were overwhelmed in their capacities, Cuba was prevented from importing lung ventilators, under the pretext that the companies European suppliers are subsidiaries of American companies, which is, without a doubt, a cruel and inhuman act and also a gross violation of trade regulations and International Law.

Cuba had to develop its national production of lung ventilators, with its own prototypes.

The extreme cruelty of the blockade was demonstrated, in a brutal way, when the breakdown of our main medicinal oxygen production plant occurred at the peak of covid cases in our country.

Given the attempt by two American companies to supply medical oxygen to Cuba, the requirement for a specific license from the North American government was demonstrated, even in times of pandemic.

Cuba also has evidence of the maneuvers of United States government agencies to prevent the sale of medicinal oxygen to our country by foreign companies from two Latin American countries.

The blockade generated difficulties and delays for the importation and arrival to our country of other supplies and medical equipment essential to confront the virus, in particular, for the industrialization of Cuban vaccines.

During the pandemic, the US government applied temporary humanitarian waivers to countries victim of its unilateral coercive measures and other sanctions.

I ask: Why was Cuba excluded from that temporary humanitarian relief? The reality is that the United States government, opportunistically, used COVID 19 as an ally in its hostile policy against Cuba.

The blockade qualifies as a crime of genocide according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of this crime, clearly defined in its article II, paragraphs b and c.

The malicious decision to strengthen the blockade in an unprecedented way in this epidemic situation and take advantage of the global economic crisis derived from the pandemic, to promote the destabilization of the country clearly reveals the deeply cruel and inhuman nature of that policy.

The feat of saving and preserving the lives of our compatriots in such difficult circumstances can only be explained by the governmental and collective effort of all our people, for decades, to build a robust science and health system, of deep humanistic character and high quality. , accessible to all Cubans, free of charge.

Although caring for human beings has been and will continue to be the priority of the Cuban government, the impact of the blockade on the quality of life and services provided to our population is undeniable and painful.

Mr. president:

For more than six decades, Cuba has resisted a ruthless economic, commercial and financial blockade. More than 80% of our current population has only known a blocked Cuba.

The United States government has not ceased in its intentions to deprive our country of essential financial income, depress the population’s standard of living, impose continuous shortages of food, medicine and other basic supplies, and cause economic collapse.

With viciousness and surgical precision, the most sensitive sectors of the economy are attacked and the greatest possible damage is deliberately sought to be inflicted on Cuban families.

The blockade is an act of economic warfare in peacetime, aimed at nullifying the government’s ability to meet the needs of the population, creating a situation of ungovernability and destroying the constitutional order.

These objectives were clearly described in the infamous memo from Under Secretary of State Lester Mallory, dated April 6, 1960, declassified many years later, which I quote:

“All possible means must be quickly put into practice to weaken economic life (…)  denying Cuba money and supplies in order to reduce nominal and real wages, with the aim of provoking hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government” .

End of quote.

That is the nature and those are, from its origin until today, the purposes of the policy of economic coercion and maximum pressure applied by the current United States government against Cuba.

The American conduct is absolutely unilateral and unjustified. There is not a single measure or action by our country to harm the United States, to harm its powerful economic sector or its commercial activity.

There is no act by Cuba that threatens the independence of the United States or its national security, that undermines its sovereign rights, interferes in its internal affairs, or that affects the well-being of its citizens.

It is neither legal nor ethical for the government of a power to subject a small nation, for decades, to an incessant economic war in order to impose an alien political system on it and reappropriate its resources. It is unacceptable to deprive an entire people of the right to peace, self-determination, development and human progress.

The Cuban people are not the only ones who suffer the terrible consequences of an illegal, cruel and inhumane policy. Many others in the world are also victims of these injustices, of the “philosophy of dispossession” that leads to the “philosophy of war,” as the Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, denounced on this podium in 1960.

In this tragic moment, I reiterate all of Cuba’s support and solidarity with the brother Palestinian people, who today are being massacred in their own land, illegally occupied. We must stop this barbarism.

Mr. president:

The US authorities have tried to sow the idea of the ineffectiveness of the Cuban government and the failure of our system.

They cynically say that they “support the Cuban people” and try to make people believe that unilateral coercive measures do not affect families, nor are they really a significant factor in the difficulties of the national economy.

Of course, the blockade is not responsible for all the problems that our country faces today, as President Miguel Díaz-Canel has said; But it would be untrue whoever denies its very serious effects and does not recognize that it is the main cause of the deprivations, shortcomings and suffering of Cuban families.

Anyone who denies the blockade as a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all our people and as the greatest obstacle to our development would be lying.

Let’s look at the facts and review the data:

Between March 1, 2022 and February 28 of this year, the damages from the blockade are conservatively estimated at $4,867 million.

This represents a damage of more than 405 million dollars a month, and more than 13 million a day. If the blockade did not exist, Cuba’s GDP could have grown by 9% in 2022.

At current prices, the accumulated effects over more than 60 years exceed $159 billion. If the calculation is made based on the value of gold, they reach one trillion 337 billion dollars.

These are extraordinary figures for any economy in the world, even more so for a small, insular and developing one like ours.

What would Cuba be like today, if it had had those resources?

Since the second half of 2019, the United States government escalated the siege against our country to an extreme, even more perverse and harmful dimension and adopted wartime measures to try to prevent fuel supplies to Cuba, the attacks intensified. against Cuban international medical cooperation, increased harassment of commercial and financial transactions in third markets, and proposed to intimidate, with the extraterritorial application, in US Courts, of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, investors and commercial entities of other countries.

There is also a List of Restricted Cuban Entities that affects most of our companies and also, curiously, of Prohibited Accommodations, unique in the world, among many other prohibitions and restrictions.

In a globalized international economy it is not only absurd, but criminal, to continue prohibiting the export to Cuba of articles produced in any of its countries, when they have 10% or more of US components; and that the importation into the United States of products manufactured in the countries that you represent be prevented, if these contain raw materials, intangibles or Cuban components.

What would happen to other economies, even rich countries, if they were subjected to similar conditions?

Mr. president:

The United States reinforces its mechanisms of siege against Cuba in the banking-financial sector. It maintains the prohibition of the use of the dollar and the persecution of financial transactions in other currencies is incessant and obsessive; of trade and investments.

The persecution has been further reinforced by the arbitrary inclusion of our country on the State Department’s unilateral list of countries supposedly sponsoring terrorism.

It was a lethal measure imposed by the previous Republican government, just 9 days after leaving the White House. The current Democratic President could have and could correct it tomorrow, if he wanted, with just a signature.

The United States government lies and does enormous damage to international efforts to combat terrorism when it accuses Cuba, without any basis.

There is not a single valid and reasonable argument for Cuba’s permanence on that spurious list. Such an action is inadmissible, particularly against a nation that is a victim of terrorism, which still today suffers unpunished instigation of violence and terrorist acts from United States territory, and whose conduct of firm rejection and persecution of any form or manifestation of terrorism is blameless and recognized. .

The effects of this are particularly harmful in the conditions of an international economy that is increasingly interconnected, interdependent and, above all, subject to the dictates of the financial centers of power that are controlled from Washington.

Protected by this arbitrary accusation, the US authorities extort hundreds of banking and financial entities in all parts of the world and force them to choose between continuing their relations with the United States or maintaining their ties with Cuba.

Between January 2021 and February 2023, there were a total of 909 actions by foreign banks that refused to provide services to our country.

Dozens of Cuban diplomatic missions in the capitals of their countries have lost relations with their traditional banks and today do not have bank accounts or financial services. This occurs even in countries that develop friendly and cooperative relations with our country, and that consistently reject the blockade, but are victims of the extraterritorial power of American hostility, its harmful and disproportionate influence on the international financial system and its spirit of encircle the Cuban economy.

With this false qualification, the so-called Country Risk increases exponentially, forcing Cuba to pay for any merchandise even at double its price in the international market.

Cuban entrepreneurs, whom the United States government cynically claims to support, are often denied the use of payment and electronic commerce platforms, such as PayPal and Airbnb. They are even prevented from opening personal bank accounts just because of their Cuban status. In third countries, they face banking restrictions and suffer discrimination resulting from the effects of the blockade.

Not even academic and scientific improvement escapes the effects of this absurd policy. Evelio is a 25-year-old Cuban young man, who is currently studying the specialty of Computer Science Engineering.

Con el apoyo de su Universidad, Evelio se dispuso a compartir con estudiantes de otros países los resultados de una investigación científica y optó por participar de manera presencial en el World Congress on Undergraduate Research (WorldCUR), que es un evento científico internacional celebrado del 4 al 6 de abril de 2023 en la Universidad de Warwick, Reino Unido.

Fue aceptado como participante por la calidad de su investigación. Sin embargo, poco tiempo después los organizadores del evento le informaron que, dada la inclusión de Cuba en una lista de países sancionados, se le retiraba el financiamiento para su participación presencial.

Él aspira a que se ponga fin al bloqueo porque, como a miles de otros jóvenes cubanos, esta política lo excluye y discrimina, impidiéndoles interactuar en igualdad de condiciones en las comunidades académicas, científicas y estudiantiles.

Los atletas y artistas cubanos que sufren discriminación y a veces acoso debieran recibir los merecidos ingresos que acompañan a sus medallas y premios.

Señor Presidente:

The blockade restricts the rights of Cuban residents in the United States, prevents family reunification through visas and regular mechanisms, does not allow traveler visas to be granted in Cuba, and hinders the sending of remittances. It also causes uncertainty and the search for personal fulfillment in other countries, even in families of young people with high qualifications.

However, the increase in Cuban emigration, with a painful cost for families and adverse demographic and economic consequences for the nation, is directly linked to the intensification of the blockade and also to the privileged treatment that is dispensed, for strictly political reasons, to Cubans who arrive at the US borders, regardless of the route by which they arrived.

It is impossible to understand the nature of the migratory flows of Cubans through countries in the region, destined for the United States, without considering the weight of these factors, which are used for the purposes of destabilization, talent theft, and discredit against Cuba. Its unfavorable impact is also evident in some countries in our area, when Cuban migrants there become irregular and use unsafe and dangerous routes or are victims of organized crime.

Cuba will always advocate for a regular, safe and orderly migratory flow. It is in the hands of the United States government to modify the structural causes of most Cuban migration, both regular and irregular.

However, the blockade paradoxically curtails the freedom of American citizens to travel to Cuba and interferes with their right to freedom of information and to form their own opinion.

It also discriminates, intimidates and deprives citizens of other countries who enjoy that privilege of the automatic visa system, known as ESTA, for the sole reason of visiting Cuba.

Mr. president:

The tightening of the economic siege has been accompanied by a sustained media and communications campaign against Cuba.

New information technologies and other digital platforms are used to try to capitalize on the shortcomings caused by the blockade and project an absolutely false image of Cuban reality, destabilizing and discrediting the country.

The media crusade, fundamentally from toxic platforms financed and based in the United States, is aimed at encouraging unrest, creating the perception of an internal political crisis, detracting from government institutions and harming the enormous efforts that the country is making to overcome the challenges of a blocked economy.

It is an unconventional, cognitive war, to which the US government dedicates, publicly and conspicuously, multimillion-dollar funds from the federal budget and covertly large amounts.

Their plan is perverse and incompatible with the democracy, freedom and right to information that they supposedly advocate.

Mr. president:

The current US government continues the inhumane policy established during the Presidency of Donald Trump, and, paradoxically, has made it its own.

In practice, it has kept intact and applies with all severity the laws and regulations that support and effect this policy, including the most hostile and inhumane ones.

The blockade, intensified to the extreme, continues to be the central element that defines United States policy towards Cuba.

The extraterritorial impact of the blockade harms the sovereignty of all the countries that you represent, distinguished Delegates; violates their national laws, subjects them to the decisions of US courts, damages the interests of their companies, sanctions their businessmen and restricts the freedom of their citizens, all in violation of International Law.

Mr. president:

More than three decades have passed since this Assembly began to demand, each year, the end of the blockade against Cuba.

However, the expressed will of the international community is disrespected and ignored by the government of the largest economic, financial and military power.

It is neither permissible nor acceptable for the successive resolutions of this forum, the most democratic and representative of the United Nations, to be ignored with impunity.

On behalf of the Cuban people, I appreciate the statements of rejection of the blockade made by Heads of State and Government and senior dignitaries from 44 countries during the general debate of this session, 21 of which explicitly condemned the arbitrary inclusion of Cuba in the unilateral and fraudulent list of State sponsors of terrorism.

I express our deep appreciation and gratitude to the many delegations that have expressed that position in yesterday’s and this morning’s sessions.

I also deeply appreciate the statements and fraternal help of our compatriots, of the broad and universal movement of solidarity with Cuba and of the many friends in different latitudes.

We are encouraged by the growing support of people of good will, who around the world are calling for an end to the blockade.

Despite the government’s hostility, we will continue to build bridges with the American people, as we do with all the people of the world.

We will increasingly strengthen ties with Cubans residing abroad and will soon host the IV Conference “The Nation and Emigration”, which will contribute to deepening the dialogue between the Cuban government and our compatriots.

Mr. president:

The colossal challenges do not daunt us. The Cuban people will not give up in their efforts to honor, exalt and defend the free and sovereign Homeland.

We will continue our transformative and revolutionary effort, in the search for ways out of the siege imposed on us by US imperialism and for ways to advance towards prosperity with social justice, support the transformation of our communities, and sustain and expand social programs.

We will continue to guarantee the growing participation of our young people and all citizens in the political, economic, social and cultural processes of the nation.

No other people has had to undertake a development project under such conditions, under such systematic and prolonged aggression by a superpower.

But Cuba will continue to renew itself, in the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.

Mr. president:


Distinguished Delegates:

By soon exercising your vote, you will not only be deciding on a matter of vital interest for Cuba and for each Cuban family.

Your vote in favor of the draft resolution presented will also be a statement in support of reason and justice, and an act of support for the Charter of the United Nations and International Law.

In the name of our noble, dignified and supportive people, who long ago decided to be owners of their history and their future; in the name of the millions of Cubans who resist and believe every day in the face of the most cruel and lasting system of unilateral coercive measures that has ever been applied against any country and that must be abolished once and for all, for the good of all;

I respectfully request that you vote in favor of draft resolution A/RES/78/L.5, entitled “Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

Better without lock! No genocidal blockade!

Let Cuba live without a blockade!

Thank you so much.