Cuba plans soon to introduce its annual resolution before the UN General Assembly against the U.S. blockade of Cuba. Nations siding with Cuba have gone from 59 in 1992 to 183 last year.

At a press conference Sept. 18, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque released a report summarizing the blockade’s recent impact on the island.

Washington’s actions last year are consistent with the blockade’s purpose set out in 1960. Undersecretary of State Lestor Mallory authored a memorandum in April that year for a meeting called by President Dwight Eisenhower just before the blockade began. U.S. goals, outlined by Mallory, were clear.

Citing the lack of “effective political opposition” to Cuba’s 3-month-old revolutionary government, Mallory wanted to “shrink the internal support for the revolution through disenchantment and discouragement.” His plan was to “deny money and supplies for Cuba [so as] to reduce wages and monetary inflow and … provoke hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the government.”

That amounts to genocide, according to analyst Salim Lamrani, writing for rebelion.org on Sept. 28. He referred to Article 11 of the 1948 Geneva Convention, which identifies genocide with “acts committed with the intention of destroying completely or partially a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” and “the intentional submission of a group to conditions of existence that could occasion its total or partial destruction.”

Perez Roque claimed that the U.S. blockade has caused Cuba $89 billion in monetary losses, including $4 billion last year. Is there evidence, however, for genocide? Data on the one-year period ending in July taken from the Cuban web sites www.cubaminrex.cu and www.cubavsbloqueo.cu suggest the answer is yes.

Important products produced only by U.S. companies or foreign affiliates became unavailable to Cuban physicians. They included diagnostic equipment for retina studies, drugs for macular degeneration, an important pediatric anesthetic agent, artificial heart valves, catheters for cardiac diagnostic studies, and pacemakers for pediatric heart patients.

Cuba had to spend $30 million extra for purchases of emergency, intensive care and maternity supplies. Hospitals lost their main source of anesthetic equipment when General Electric bought a Finnish manufacturer. The U.S. Treasury Department compiled a list of “hospitals denied” — those off limits for cardiac diagnostic equipment made by U.S. companies or foreign partners. Visas were denied for 37 Cuban medical specialists wanting to attend scientific meetings in the United States.

Washington interfered with food production and imports. Forced to use third-country banks to pay for legal U.S. food shipments, Cuba paid out an extra $62.8 million. U.S. interference with food shipments and shipping company payments added $258 million to Cuba’s food costs. That amount, say Cuban authorities, could have purchased 827,000 metric tons of soybeans, soy oil, maize and wheat.

The blockade added costs, but also interfered with people’s daily lives. Examples of shortages and extra replacement costs include the following: Oil refinery gaskets, $264,000; 40 Wilden pumps for soy yogurt manufacture, $711,000; construction supplies for refurbishing schools, $870,370; spare parts for locomotives, $500,000 (plus 6,892 cancelled departures affecting 197,000 passengers); and spare parts for passenger bus tractors, $671,000 (plus added delays each day for 45,000 passengers).

Currently 205 water-pumping facilities are idle due to lack of U.S.-made replacement parts. Extra repair costs have totaled $1.65 million, 40 percent due to additional freight charges. Blockade-related costs borne by the construction sector last year came to $14.1 million. Construction of new housing and repairs called for the outlay of $4.3 million to pay for expensive, distant supplies.

U.S. enforcers also ordered Internet search companies to cut contacts with Cuba. They blocked U.S. attendance at Cuban scientific events, Cuban performers from entering the United States, and Cubans from staying at foreign hotels affiliated with U.S. corporations. Costly restrictions on foreign banks handling Cuban accounts involving dollars were part of the picture. Non-Cuban corporations stole the brand names of Cuba’s Cohiba cigars and its world renowned rum, Havana Club.

Democratic presidential candidates have spoken out. Barack Obama would “normalize relations and ease the embargo.” Christopher Dodd called U.S. policy toward Cuba an “abject failure.” He too pledged to end the blockade. Others opt for the status quo.

Concepts like cruelty, illegality, and genocide remain unexplored. Two-thirds of all Cubans have lived their entire lives under blockade.

atwhit @megalink.net

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