A massive violation of the rights of an entire people

[This is the text of a speech given by Reinaldo Garcia Perera, consul-general to Australia for the Republic of Cuba, to a meeting in Sydney on October 10 protesting against the US blockade of Cuba.]

Dear friends: Thank you all for being here today. Your presence confirms the power of mobilisation of the Cuban Revolution and your lasting and strong support for it.

It also shows that we are all ready to gather and respond faster than our enemies expect. The Venezuelan people did so in April 2002, and Ecuador did it just a few days ago and brought back their democratically elected president. Sooner rather than later, Honduras will also join the concert of nations whose destiny is in the hands of their best sons and daughters.

It also gives me great pleasure to honour a man of the future, a paradigm of what a human being should be, Ernesto Che Guevara, who died 43 years ago on October 8.

For the 19th consecutive occasion, on October 26, Cuba will present for the consideration of the United Nations General Assembly a draft resolution entitled “The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States Against Cuba”.

Last year, 187 member states voted in favour of this resolution. This constitutes a true demonstration that the battle to lift the blockade enjoys the acknowledgment and backing of the overwhelming majority of the international community.

Huge economic damage

Direct economic damage to the Cuban people as a result of the economic, commercial and financial blockade by the United States against Cuba until December 2009, according to very conservative calculations, reaches a figure that surpasses US$100 billion 154 million, a figure that would reach US$239 billion 533 million if calculations were made at the current value of the US dollar. If we take into consideration that the value of the dollar, measured in terms of gold on the international financial market, has decreased by more than 30 times since 1961 when the gold price was $35.00 per Troy ounce until the close of 2009, when it surpassed the US$1000 mark, total repercussions on the Cuban economy would be in the order of US$751 billion 363 million.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade, imposed by the United States government against Cuba continues to be the main obstacle to the country’s economic and social development.

From the adoption of Resolution 64/6 by the United Nations General Assembly on October 28, 2009, until the present, the main actions of the blockade against Cuba have been maintained and reinforced, manifested in greater economic sanctions and persecution of Cuban business activities and financial transactions.

The policy of economic strangulation of Cuba by the United States remains intact. The complicated framework of laws and regulations that comprise and sustain it has not been dismantled. The blockade against Cuba continues to be the longest and toughest system of sanctions that the United States has ever applied against any country throughout its history.

Third countries

The validity of the Torricelli and Helms Burton acts and their extra-territorial application continues to impede Cuba’s business with subsidiaries of US companies in third countries, continuing to be the basis for threats and the imposition of sanctions on business people who wish to invest in Cuba, and continuing to make more difficult and expensive the maritime shipment of goods between Cuba and third countries.

Just a few examples of the extra-territorial application of the blockade against Cuba:

On August 24, 2009, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) fined a bank group headquartered in Australia, the Australia and New Zealand Bank Group, Ltd, a total of US$5.75 million for involving itself in financial transactions regarding Cuba and Sudan.

On December 16, 2009, OFAC fined the Credit Suisse Bank US$536 million for violating the regulations of the blockade and making financial transactions with several countries sanctioned by the United States, Cuba being one of them.

On March 19, 2010, the same office imposed a fine on the Swedish subsidiary of the chemical company Innospec Inc, which is headquartered in Delaware, for US$2.2 million for selling a gasoline additive to Cuba.

The report by Cuba to the United Nations secretary general shows many other examples of the extra-territorial application of the blockade and of its economic and social impact on all spheres of Cuban society.

Additionally, the present US government, violating elementary international norms, continues to use political subversion as a weapon in its confrontation with Cuba. With the aim of encouraging subversive programs, a total of US$40 million was approved for the fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

The blockade violates international law. It is against the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. It constitutes a transgression on the right to peace, development and security of a sovereign state. In its essence and purposes, it is a unilateral act of aggression and a permanent threat against the stability of a country. It constitutes a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the rights of an entire people. It also violates the constitutional rights of the US people by impeding their freedom to travel to Cuba. It also violates the sovereign rights of many other states because of its extra-territorial nature.

The government of the United States harbours no intention of producing any change in its policy towards Cuba, or of complying with the reiterated resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly that request it to put an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba. On the contrary, the government of the United States continues to adhere firmly to unacceptable interference and demands as a condition for a change of policy towards Cuba.

Despite the fact that he had considerable political support in Congress, the press, public opinion and the business sector that surpassed any preceding consensus in US society regarding policy towards Cuba, and which would have allowed him to act with a great degree of autonomy, President Obama has remained well below the expectations created by his speech about the claims from different sectors of US society and the international community, as well as of his prerogatives to modify significant policy aspects, even without intervention from Congress.

Furthermore, the blockade is morally unsustainable. There is no other unilateral system of sanctions being applied against any other country in the world for such a long period of time and which has awakened such a high rejection level within the international community. The United States should unconditionally lift the blockade without further delay.

Cuba requests all governments committed to the defence of international law and justice that they vote on October 26 in favour of the draft resolution of the United Nations General Assembly that asks for an end to the blockade.

Thank you all once again for your support and allow me to express the determination of the Cuban people to endure all difficulties and fight until the cruel, despicable and unjust blockade is lifted. We know we will achieve our objective and that you will be there to support us in our struggle.

Long Live Cuba! Long live solidarity! Thank you very much!