The UN once again denounces the American blockade of Cuba; Biden administration maintains Trump’s stance – people’s world
On June 23, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a Cuban resolution condemning the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba, in place for 60 years. The Assembly has been doing precisely this every year since 1992, with the exception of 2020, when the vote was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote this time was: 184 nations approving; two opponents, Israel and the United States; and three abstentions, Colombia, Ukraine and Brazil.
From the start, the United States and Israel have opposed the resolution, only ten times, especially since 2010. Sometimes one or two other nations have joined, often the American dependencies of Palau and the Marshall Islands.
Ahead of this year’s vote, representatives of national delegations, some representing regional alliances, testified against the blockade. Many have praised Cuba’s international reach by providing medical care in dozens of countries and welcoming tens of thousands of southern students to Cuban medical schools at no personal cost.
They applauded Cuba’s success in producing vaccines against the COVID-19 virus, despite the restrictions imposed by the blockade. Speakers criticized on grounds of cruelty, immorality and / or violation of international law.
In the weeks leading up to this year’s vote, a strong campaign against the blockade materialized in the United States and around the world. Car and bicycle caravans took place in the United States and Canada with support from the National Network on Cuba, the US Hands Off Cuba Committee and the Miami-based Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love) initiative. In New York, the ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, the NY-NJ CubaSi Coalition, the Venceremos Brigade and IFCO / Pastors for Peace have been active.
The petitions against the blockade have collected thousands of signatures. International organizations denounced the blockade, including: the Non-Aligned Movement, the Group of 77 and China, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Currently, Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden’s United States-Cuba Trade Act of 2021, the only US bill that would end the blockade completely, has only three co-sponsors.
The Cuban Foreign Ministry produces a comprehensive report every year to provide delegates with information on the negative effects of the blockade. The most recent report came out on October 22, 2020, just before the assembly vote that was due to take place in November. This report indicated that between April 2019 and March 2020, the blockade caused financial losses in Cuba amounting to $ 5.570 billion.
In an update recently made available, Cuban officials claim that Cuba lost an additional $ 3.587 billion between April 2020 and December 2020. The losses reflected in these figures stem from shortages of necessary materials related to the blockade, unheard of export revenues and the high cost of having to purchase through third-party intermediaries foreign goods that, subject to the blockade, are not available in the United States and elsewhere.
Hopes that the Biden administration would reverse the intensification of the blockade imposed by President Donald Trump and restore the Obama administration’s openness to Cuba have fizzled. In 2016, the United States actually abstained in the General Assembly vote.
Shortly after taking office, the Biden administration announced that it would not prioritize new Cuban policies. In May, Biden, without proof, put Cuba on the US list of nations sponsoring terrorism. He was following Trump’s example in canceling President Barack Obama’s action by removing this designation.
Cuba’s supposed association with terrorism serves as a pretext for the US Treasury Department to penalize international financial institutions that necessarily use dollars in their transactions with Cuba. As a result, Cuba faces great difficulties in transferring funds and accessing credit. Cuban officials emphasize the global reach of the US blockade. Not only does it use restrictions on third country banks and lending agencies, but a 1992 regulation penalizes third country companies that export goods and materials to Cuba containing 10% or more of components produced in the United States. .
The “extraterritoriality” of the blockade, a remarkable feature of its operation, took on its full meaning with the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which, among other nefarious provisions, allowed former owners of nationalized property in Cuba to sue in court. Americans for damages suffered. Every six months, US presidents had temporarily suspended this provision, until Trump.
In May 2019, Trump implemented this provision, which had the effect of spooking much-needed foreign investment in Cuba. The economic toll, probably incalculable, is considerable. One of the many tests that the Biden presidency faces is to once again inactivate this part of the 1996 law.
The cruelty of the blockade, not to mention its immorality and illegality, was evident in this time of pandemic, when the blockade was caused shortages of raw materials, specialized tools and instruments, fuel and spare parts have crippled or hampered the manufacturing and distribution in Cuba of drugs, COVID-19 vaccines, other vaccines, syringes, hospital supplies and surgical supplies .
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has the final say here on what constitutes a great crime against a small sovereign nation in the hands of the arrogant capitalist capo of the global economy. Rodriguez, speaking to the Assembly ahead of the vote, said:
“The human danger of the blockade is incalculable. No family’s life escapes the effects of this inhuman policy. No one could honestly say that it has no real impact on the population… The blockade is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all the Cuban people. According to article II, section C of the Geneva Convention of 1948, it constitutes an act of genocide. It is an economic war with extraterritorial scope against a small country, already affected recently by the recession and the global economic crisis caused by the pandemic which deprived us of essential income.