Cuba gains UN victory over U.S.

The United Nations General Assembly on October 29 approved a Cuban resolution calling upon the United States to end its economic, commercial and financial blockade. The General Assembly has backed such a resolution every year since the non-enforceable resolution was first introduced in 1992. In preparing for the vote, the Cuban Foreign Ministry creates an annual report demonstrating cruelty and illegality ongoing for half a century.

This year 188 nations said “yes” to the Cuban resolution. Israel and the United States opposed and Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau abstained. A pattern of overwhelming majority votes began with 167 affirmative votes in 2000 culminating with 188 majority votes in 2012. The United States and Israel have opposed the resolution consistently.

In the Assembly debate prior to the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez assured delegates that, “The human damages caused by the …blockade imposed by the United States are incalculable.” On the day of the vote, delegates of ten nations defended the Cuban resolution. U.S. delegate Ronald Godard opined that Cuba “still has one of the most restrictive economic systems in the world.”

Cuba’s yearly submission of the resolution creates an opportunity to register worldwide loathing of U.S. policies directed at Cuba. Additionally, Cuba uses the report delivered to voting nations to demonstrate adverse blockade effects on people’s lives, Cuban national sovereignty, and economic sustainability. The report conveys crucial information on the centerpiece of U.S. anti-Cuban hostility. An English language version circulates on the internet.

Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno presented the detailed, comprehensive report on October 7 at a press conference at the William Soler Pediatric Cardiology Center in Havana. Blockade related shortages of essential surgical and medical materials have long burdened patients, families and physicians at that flagship hospital.

Certain categories of abuses outlined in document are worthy of note. For example, monetary loss at U.S. hands totals $1,157,327,000,000 (taking into account dollar depreciation). Figured into the amount are violations of Cuban patents, confiscation of Cuban funds abroad, losses from missed sales of products subjected to the blockade, losses of humanitarian assistance funds waylaid en route to Cuba, high costs from having to re-route imports blocked under U.S. rules through third countries, losses from interference with the tourist industry, losses from business contracts unfulfilled when foreign partners withdraw under U.S. pressures, and losses associated with U.S. purchases of foreign companies.

Foreign banks and other financial institutions face U.S. fines following accusations of handling dollars as part of transactions involving Cuban businesses, agencies, and citizens. U.S. identification of Cuba as a “terrorist” state serves as pretext. Fearful of losing U.S. business, targeted institutions often respond by permanently giving up relations with Cuba. As a result, difficulties mount for the island nations  in securing international loans and foreign investment, receiving foreign donations, and pursuing normal overseas commerce.

Special targeting of Cuba’s health care sector, in place for many years, continues. Multi-national drug manufacturers and medical equipment merchandisers pay big fines on U.S. discovery that medical devices or drugs sold by their subsidiaries to Cuba contain 10 percent or more of components originating from the United States. They usually drop Cuba as a customer. Clinical care centers, notably intensive care units, either go without crucial supplies or secure them expensively through third parties. Equipment available only in the United States is off limits for many critically ill patients. Medical imaging equipment is immobilized because essential computerized control systems require prompt authorization from the Microsoft Corporation. The blockade usually makes that impossible.

The Cuban report instructs U.S. citizens on the nature of their government. They learn that despite United Nations founding principles, the idea of national sovereignty may be trashed. They learn their government endangers innocent people, despite international law.

“Because of its declared purpose,” the Cuban report says, “the political, legal and administrative framework on which the blockade rests qualifies as an act of genocide by virtue of the Geneva Convention of 1948.” The United States has imposed “the most unjust, severe and extended system of unilateral sanctions ever enforced against any country.”

That “declared purpose” has been evident ever since the release of an internal State Department memorandum in 1960. Author Lester Mallory observed that “The majority of Cubans support Castro. The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.” He proposed action which “makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Awareness of such cruelty and illegality has long fueled resistance by a U.S. solidarity movement. Cuba’s annual reports provide documentation essential for the purpose of sustaining that political campaign.

The contemporary relevance of the report this year is evident from the statement that “Damages done by the blockade to Cuban foreign trade amount to $3,921,725,790, a figure 10 percent above that of last year.” Significantly, “The last five years have witnessed a persistent tightening of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States government against Cuba, particularly of its extraterritorial dimension.”

Photo: TMLDaily


W. T. Whitney Jr.
W. T. Whitney Jr.

W.T. Whitney Jr. grew up on a dairy farm in Vermont and now lives in rural Maine. He practiced and taught pediatrics for 35 years and long ago joined the Cuba solidarity movement, working with Let Cuba Live of Maine, Pastors for Peace, and the Venceremos Brigade. He writes on Latin America and health issues for the People's World.