No more blockade against Cuba
by Vilma Reyes
Ambassador of Cuba to SVG
On October 31, for the 27th consecutive occasion, the General Assembly of the United Nations will consider the draft resolution entitled “Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”
Although many in the world think that the US blockade against Cuba ended, especially after the steps taken at the end of the mandate of President Barack Obama towards the normalization of US relations with Cuba, the opening of embassies in both countries, the increase in travel of citizens of Cuba and the United States in both directions, the establishment of direct flights and the arrival of cruise ships, the truth is that the blockade continues, the blockade remains in force and it is rigorously applied.
On June 16, 2017, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, announced the intensification of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, as a fundamental component of his policy towards the island, which meant a setback in bilateral relations.
With this action, President Trump reversed the progress made in bilateral relations, after the December 17, 2014, Presidents Raul Castro Ruz and Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations and the beginning of a process towards normalization of bilateral ties.
The new sanctions against Cuba have caused a notable decrease in visits from the US during the last year and they are generating greater obstacles on Cuban companies’ economic and commercial relations with potential American and third country partners. These measures not only affect the Cuban State economy but they also affect the country’s private sector.
The measures applied also restrict right of Americans to travel to Cuba and it imposes additional obstacles on the limited opportunities of the American business community in Cuba, by setting up a list of 179 Cuban entities with which American natural and juridical persons are prohibited from carrying out transactions.
The extra-territorial nature of the blockade has continued to intensify and seriously hurts Cuba but it also negatively affects the interests and sovereign rights of third countries.
In recent months, the permanent persecution of Cuban financial transactions and bank and loan operations with Cuba has intensified on a world scale. This has caused severe harm to the country’s economy especially on the commercial activities of companies and national banks in their links with international banking.
The Cuban health system has suffered serious repercussions due to the policy of the blockade against Cuba, derived from the difficulties in acquiring medicines, reagents, instruments, spare parts for medical equipment and all the other consumables needed for the sector to function; all of this must be purchased in faraway markets and, on many occasions, with the use of intermediaries. This adds to the costs of these consumables.
To all of this we must add the suffering and despair which is caused for patients and their loved ones when they cannot obtain the ideal medicine to treat a particular disease and, in many instances, at the moment it is needed to save a life. A price can never be put on such pain.
Due to the blockade regulations, materials necessary for teaching the arts, such as books for reading music, sheet music notebooks, saxophones, strings for guitars, violins, cellos and basses, are bought at higher prices on the international market, while they are found at much more reasonable prices on the American market.
The growth of the Cuban film industry has also been affected by the conditions imposed by the blockade, such as the Animation Studios of the Cuban Institute for Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC in its Spanish-language abbreviation) not having access to software permits essential for their production processes and not being able to have direct access to the most important international film market, the American film market.
From the other side, the Blockade prevents Cuban quality products to reach the markets of the United States, despite their high demand in that country.
Just Ron Havana Club, one of the most prestigious companies in the world for the manufacture of spirits, has lost $ 90,930,000 of revenues for this reason.
Other rum brands such as Santiago de Cuba, Isla del Tesoro and Cubay, with an export potential to the US market of at least 200,000 boxes per year, despite the interest expressed by the main US distributors, at present, cannot place their products in that market.
Cuba cannot export the Heberprot-P to the American market. The Heberprot-P, developed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Cuba is a unique and brand new medicine for treatment of severe diabetic foot ulcers.
The intensification of the blockade by the US government is contrary to the majority opinion of its people, including Cuban immigrants, who are in favor of its total lifting and normal relations between Cuba and the United States.
In spite of the intensification of the blockade and its painful consequences, our people will not renounce their solidary vocation, or the collaboration with the brothers of the South nor to its dreams of justice for Cuba and the world.
Next October 31, the Cuban government will present, once again, before the United Nations General Assembly, the draft resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic blockade, commercial and financial imposed by the Government of the United States against Cuba”.
Last year Cuba’s demand was supported by 191 states with the only votes against were from the United States and Israel. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is among the countries that resolutely support this Resolution every year. We thank the Government and the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for this position of solidarity and justice.