17 October 2018

Liberia: 'Human Rights Violation', Cuban Chargé d'Affaires Brands U.S.-Imposed Economic Blockade

Mr. Yordenis Vera gives Cuba's report on US Blockade.

Cuban Chargé d'Affaires assigned in Liberia, Yordenis Despaigne Vera has branded the United States' imposed economic blockade on the Communist Republic of Cuba as a "human rights violation," calling on the international community to prevail on the imposer to lift it.

Mr. Vera made the call yesterday, October 16, at a resort in Monrovia where he read the Cuban Report on the draft Resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) entitled, "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America Against Cuba."

The draft resolution, which is expected to be presented to the UNGA on October 31, 2018, underscored that "the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the Government of the United States of America against Cuba for almost six decades is the most unfair, severe and extended system of unilateral sanctions ever applied against any country."

Mr. Vera said every country has the right to decide on what system of government to institute and which will be in the best interest of their people and maintain financial and economic independence to meet the needs of their citizens, "but the United States has reneged to lift the blockade, thus leading to the suffering of millions of Cubans, mainly the elderly and the youth."

Before leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama began softening the blockade on Cuba by creating the environment for both countries to re-establish diplomatic relations and exchange ambassadors.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama paid a visit to Havana on March 20, 2016 and, following that, the first U.S. commercial airplane made a landing there in August the same year.

Hoping that the succeeding administration will build on the foundation laid between Cuba and the United States, instead President Donald Trump on June 16, 2017, signed the "Presidential Memorandum for National Security," which calls for tightening US blockade policy against Cuba.

The restriction, among other things, bars the right of Americans to travel to Cuba, something which imposes additional obstacles on the limited opportunities of the American business community in that country. The restriction sets a list of 179 entities with which American natural and juridical persons are prohibited from carrying out transactions.

The new sanctions have also caused a decrease in visits from the US, and they have generated greater obstacles on Cuban companies' economic and commercial relations with America and third country partners.

Besides the negative consequences of the sanctions on the Cuban economy, Mr. Vera said, the private sector is grossly affected as well.

"In recent months, the permanent persecution of Cuban financial transactions and bank 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," Vera said.

Although the 2017 UN voting result for lifting the blockade on Cuba was favorable as 191 voted in favor, while 2 voted against, the UN has not been able to come out with a definite position to prevail on the U.S. government to lift the blockade.

The tightening of the blockade, according to Mr. Vera, has come with aggressive, menacing, disrespectful rhetoric and conditions from the senior level of the U.S. government; which he said generates greater mistrust, and uncertainty among American financial institutions, companies and suppliers due to the very real fear of being penalized for their relations with Cuba.

Vera said that the blockade, as far as the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals is concerned, will affect lives of millions in Cuba, which signifies failure to achieve this goal.

He said this blockade and US extra-territorial relations with smaller countries will cause a hurdle for the development of Cuba's economic, commercial and financial development.

The six-decade blockade on Cuba, Mr. Vera said, has accumulated to loss of $933,678,000,000, taking into consideration depreciation of the dollar as compared to the price of gold on the international market.

He also said that the blockade has caused losses to Cuba for around $4,321,200,000; stressing that it implies severe affectations in all the spheres of the economic and social life of the country.

Cuba, though, has existed under the harsh US imposed economic blockade for 60 years; it has come out to be one of the Latin American countries with vibrant health and education sectors on the world index.

Nevertheless, Mr. Vera said the blockade has imposed suffering on the Cuban health system, education, and the food and agriculture industries.

For instance, the biopharmaceutical sector that has been the engine of growth for Cuba's economy, cannot be exported easily to generate revenue, while the Heberprot-P used to treat diabetes and ulcers are of no demand to other countries, because it cannot be exported under the blockade.

Vera said that smaller countries' fear of not being punished by US is causing them to also stand afar from Cuba, thereby creating a heavy weight from the blockade.

Authors

Joaquin M. Sendolo

Liberia

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