March 22, 2013
At the outset let me thank Georgia University and particularly the Dean Rusk Center for its invitation. Thanks Dean Mrs White, as well as Ambassador Donald Johnson who has been working in this initiative for almost a year.
In order to talk about the US blockade against Cuba you have to wonder always When all this began? By the time Cuban patriots had decided to start a rebellion against the Spain, the Cuban colonizer in 1868, 92 years had passed since US patriots had declared their intention to become independent from English colonizers. The reasons for both rebellions were about the same: the economic exploitation of a territory by a foreign power by virtue of its force, preventing social, economic and political integration of all its components.
There was although a very important difference between our patriots, the Cubans freed their slavers, but in America that situation was fixed only many years later.
The US founding fathers cemented the basis for the US future; however, unfortunately, in their imagination this future often related Cuba. Thomas Jefferson said in 1809: “I frankly confess that I have always regarded Cuba as the most interesting addition that can be made to our system of state."
Later, in 1823, the U.S. Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams announced Cuba's geographic fatalism using the doctrine of the" ripe fruit," saying that "There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation; and if an apple, severed by the tempest from its native tree, can not choose but fall to the ground, Cuba forcibly disjoined from its unnatural connection with Spain and incapable of self-support (and I have to emphasize this phrase many times mentioned later), can gravitate only toward the North American Union, which, by the same law of nature, can not cast her off from its bosom."
Another figure of the time is James Monroe, the proponent of the famous doctrine "America for the Americans" and U.S. president, to who Thomas Jefferson wrote: "the annexation of Cuba to our Confederation is precisely what is needed to complete our national power and maximize its interests."
In May 1847, the New York Sun newspaper states in one of its editorials that "Due to its geographic position, Cuba by necessity and by right, should belong to the United States; it can and should be ours."
One year later, the then U.S. President, Polk would make preparations for acquiring Cuba through payment to Spain . The Creole of New Orleans Journal reflected the essence of this craving: "Cuba, by destiny of Providence, belongs to the United States and should be Americanized."
In 1881, the U.S. Consul in Cuba stated in its consular report that "Commercially, Cuba has been transformed into a U.S. dependency, although politically it continues to depend on Spain."
The Cuban struggle for the independence lasted 30 years. The best Cuban blood was poured into this project that ended up in 1898 with the US military intervention when Cuban patriots had almost won the war against Spain in spite of being under armed and outnumbered by Spaniard troops.
On 2 March 1901, the US congress imposed an amendment to the Cuban Constitution authorizing the US to leave government of the island in the hands of the Cuban people – but only after a government had been established there under a constitution on which the future relations with the US were to be rigidly defined.
This became known as the Platt Amendment, after Senator Orville Platt. Under this amendment, the US limited the country's sovereignty and turned it into neocolony. It legalized US military intervention. It assumed the right to seize part of Cuba's territory by leaving ownership of the Isle of Pines. It limited Cuba's rights to enter into treaties with other countries. Finally, it forced the country to sell or lease a part of its territory for the establishment of naval stations. Other separate treaties were applied to secure the economic and political dependence of the newborn Cuba.
With the beginning of the pseudo-republic on May 20, 1902, Jose Marti’s project to create a nation "with all and for the good of all", was supplanted with a "government on behalf of the people, without the people and against the people." U.S. troops invaded and occupied Cuba 1906-1909, 1912 and 1917-1922. The U.S. warships remained off Cuba during the failed revolution of 1933 and the U.S. influence was visible in the political, economic, cultural and social life of Cuba.
Washington was able to establish and consolidate a series of interventionist measures that allowed it to dominate the country and to protect its hegemonic interests of any threat from popular unrest. In 1957, the Cuban population was 6.2 million people, of whom 4.1 million were in working age. Total unemployment reached 35%. Of the 194 000 women identified as employed, 75% worked in housekeeping. The agricultural sector employed 47.4% of the population. 140,000 peasant families were living in extreme poverty. 64% of farmers did not own the land they worked and were forced to pay rent.
In 1958, over 2 million people in Cuba were illiterate or semi-literate. More than 600 000 children had no schools, while 58% of teachers were unemployed.
Only 45.9% of school-age children were enrolled, 50% of them did not attend classes, and only 6% reached the 6th grade, while the school level for older than 15 years was less than third grade. In the area of health, the capital of the Republic of Cuba concentrated 61% of hospital beds and 65% of physicians. The country had 6,500 doctors with coverage of 1067 inhabitants per doctor. In Havana the figure was of 361 inhabitants per doctor and 2378 per doctor in the rest of the country. In rural areas there was only one hospital and only 18% of the population received free medical care.
Life expectancy was estimated at 62.3 years, infant mortality rates reached 60 per 1000 live births and the maternal mortality rate was 118 per 10,000. In rural areas, 36% of the population suffered from intestinal parasites, malaria 31%, 14% had suffered or was suffering from tuberculosis and 13% of typhoid. Additionally, feeding conditions were critical in rural areas, where only 4% of the population ate meat; fish, less than 1%; eggs 2.1%; milk 11.2% and bread 3.4%.
Domestic production responded almost exclusively to mono-exporting sugar profile, with a production structure devoid of integration, so that the country depended heavily on imports, for the functioning of the economy. Foreign trade was highly concentrated in the U.S. market (64.5% of exports and 73.5% of imports on average in the years 1954 to 1958) consequently depended on this market in terms of foreign exchange earnings, technology, equipment, spare parts, fuel, raw materials, industrial goods and food. Virtually all equipment in the country came from U.S.
The United Fruit Company dominated the sugar industry, while other US companies prevailed in oil refining, mining, railways, tourism, communications, electricity, pharmaceuticals, rubber, chemicals and banking. Some banks, such as Chase Manhattan came to have so much power that dictated the budget and fiscal policies of the Cuban government and forced it to make changes in Cabinet.
But there was still hope that the ballot scheduled for 1952 could steer the country through a reformist solution if it was winning the Cuban People's Party (Orthodox), as expected. That hope was frustrated at dawn on March 10, 1952, by the military coup that the young lawyer of 25 years, Fidel Castro, once described as "a blow" against the people. The unconstitutional coup was perpetrated by then army Chief Fulgencio Batista. Under his regime, gangsterism and corruption reached unprecedented levels. It is estimated that 20,000 Cubans were killed, mostly youngsters, pursued by the Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities (BRAC). While the Batista’s Police, Army, Air Force and Navy murdered the Cuban people in cold blood with weapons supplied by the United States, US officials and military missions, and the CIA consultant assigned to BRAC remained impassive.
In 1958 Cuba, one did not need to be a communist to be a radical anti imperialist. It was enough to be a patriot. US president Dwight Eisenhower adopted the first economic sanctions against Cuba, like the denial of the Cuban request to be given back the 424 million dollars stolen by Batista’s thugs and taken to US banks in February 1959, the significant reduction of the quota of sugar purchases set by the US for Cuba and the general prohibition of exports to Cuba.
In his youthful performance and charisma, President Barack Obama has often been compared to John F. Kennedy. The Cuban issue dominated Kennedy's thousand days in office. As president, he led the country and the world through the Cuban Missile Crisis; he also oversaw some of the most egregious acts of U.S. aggression towards Cuba, including the failed and brutal Bay of Pigs invasion, the trade blockade and Operation Mongoose, a set of covert actions designed to destabilize the country and overthrow the Cuban government.
While Eisenhower unilaterally broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba on January 3rd 1961, on March 31, the new President Kennedy totally suppressed the sugar quota. In January 1962, U.S. displayed an intense maneuvering culminating in Organization of American States Sanctions and breaking of diplomatic relations by most Latin American countries with Cuba. On February 3, 1962, by Executive Order 3447 Kennedy formally implemented the total trade "embargo" against Cuba.
In July 1963, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations came into force, banning all transactions with Cuba and freezing all Cuban assets in the U.S. In May 1964, the Commerce Department implemented the ban on shipments of food and medicine to Cuba.
On April 6th 1960, then deputy State assistant secretary for Inter American Affairs Lester D. Mallory wrote a secret memo to the President, declassified in 1991, in which he said, and quote: “The majority of Cubans support Castro. There is no effective opposition. The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support [from the government] is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government”. End of quote.
Article II of the 1948 Vienna Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defined genocide as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The entire structure that supports the blockade and the aggressive policy implanted by successive US administrations qualify as an act of genocide by virtue of the Geneva Convention. During all these years, the political, legal and administrative mechanisms of that policy have been tightened and reinforced aiming at a more efficient implementation of it.
The “embargo” definition does not fit in with the actions exerted against Cuba by the US government. “Embargo” is generally known as the legal manner of retaining assets in order to assure the fulfillment of an obligation lawfully accepted. It can also be a preventive measure of patrimonial character authorized by judge, court or competent authority with the same purpose of obliging the debtor to fulfill its commitments with their creditors.
All the way around, those actions go beyond that definition to typify “a blockade” as they pursue Cuba’s isolation, suffocation and immobility, with the crooked purpose of pushing its people to give up their decision of being sovereign and independent. The blockade concept comprises all the aforementioned, since “blockade” means to cut and close the bonds with the outside world in order to isolate and oblige the besieged country to surrender by force or starvation.
To consider the blockade “a war action” was a principle accepted by International Law since the Naval Conference held in London in 1909. In accordance with this principle, such measure can be exerted only among belligerents. On the other hand, no International Law rule justify the so-called “pacific blockade”, which was a practice developed by the colonial powers during the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th.
In a 2007 report, David Gootnick, Government Accountability Office director for International Affairs and Trade affirmed that the so called Embargo on Cuba is the most comprehensive set of US sanctions on any country.
In the wake of the collapse of the Socialist camp in the decade of the 1990, Cuba lost overnight 85% of its foreign market and 80% of its foreign investment sources. As a result, 1992 marked not only the beginning of the worst economic crisis Cubans have ever faced, known by Cubans as “the special period”, but the date the Torricelli Act, promoted by then New Jersey democratic representative Robert Torricelli, was passed in Congress and signed into law by the republican president, George Bush.
The Torricelli Act, also known by its commercial name as “The Cuban Democracy Act”, reinforced economic sanctions against Cuba and offered legal support for additional extraterritorial measures. It banned subsidiaries of US companies in third countries from doing business with Cuba or Cuban nationals, and banned third-countries’ vessels having touched Cuban harbors, from entering the US territory in a 6-months period. Moreover, it also forbade Cuban families living in the United States from sending any cash remittances to Cuba.
Afterwards, in 1996, democratic president Bill Clinton, signed into law the Helms-Burton Act, sponsored by then republican Senator Jesse Helms, from North Carolina and then republican representative Dan Burton, from Indiana.
The Helms-Burton Act, ironically known as “The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity”, among others things codified all previous sanctions preventing the President to lift them and furthered the international scope of the sanctions and was aimed at discouraging foreign companies from investing in the Cuban economy. Through this Act third-countries’ entrepreneurs are denied entry into the US, if they dare have invest in properties nationalized by Cuba in the 1960 and opened up the possibility of filing suits against them in US courts.
It also authorized annual funds for anti Cuban Television broadcasting to Cuba from the US territory and funds for, quote and quote, "democratic and human rights groups" and international observers.
It’s not difficult to realize that the US strategy in the 1990’s during Cuba’s hardest times, was to choke the Cuban economy and blame the Cuban government for the sensitive situation. This purpose was hidden under the disguise of promoting the democracy in Cuba and is not different from the policy inherited and still applied by Mr. Obama.
While the US blockade has attempted “to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government”, the program of fostering internal dissent was kept secret from 1959 to 1990. However, in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the financial and logistical support to Cuban dissidents became public and was integrated into US law.
Today, none of the legislators who directly sponsored major laws against Cuba are in the political landscape. Robert Torricelli is a former representative who had to resign because of corruption allegations. Jesse Helms, whose ultraconservative views on almost every issue, including foreign policy, would have no room in the current domestic debates, passed away 5 years ago.
But we still remember his phrase about Fidel Castro and his willingness of our former President leaving Cuba “on a vertical or horizontal position”. And Dan Burton is retired after a political life stained by periodic political, personal and judgment-related scandals.
On March 29, 1995, during congressional hearings on the US “War on Drugs”, Burton, then House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee chairman, proclaimed that the US military "should place an aircraft carrier off the coast of Bolivia and crop dust the coca fields." It was later pointed out to him that:
- Bolivia is landlocked and has no coast,
- the Bolivian coca fields are beyond the reach of any carrier-borne crop-duster, being separated from the nearest coastline by the 20,000 plus feet high peaks of the Andes; and
- F-18s cannot crop-dust.
By saying this I don’t mean to disrespect these American elected-officials. My purpose is to emphasize that the US Cuba policy has almost never been in the hands of responsible politicians or driven by common sense.
This was particularly true during the George W. Bush Administration whose obsession for Cuba increased to unthinkable levels. Almost every day top-ranking officials, including the Secretaries of State and Commerce, and the President himself issued rhetorical public statements on Cuba.
In 2003 Bush created the Commission for Assistance to Free Cuba, which was directed to report to the U.S. president by May 1, 2004, with recommendations to overthrow the Cuban government, and dismantle the Cuban economic, political and social system.
The 2004 report recommended, among other things, to form international organizations to support Cuban opposition groups, to fund internal groups opposed to the Cuban Government and grant scholarships to dissidents’ children, use an aircraft C-130 to broadcast TV and Radio propaganda to Cuba from US soil. It also imposed new sanctions of businessmen involved in Cuba-related transactions. Furthermore, the W. Bush administration assaulted the Cuban families by limiting the amount of remittances the Americans of Cuban origin could send to their relatives on the Island, redefined the concept of family itself by curtailing the remittances’ recipients to parents, children and grandparents, and limited family travels to Cuba to one every three years.
On July 2006 additional measures were taken, such as the enforcement of criminal sanctions against the violators of the blockade, the creation of the Cuban Nickel Targeting Task Force, to impede the trade of Cuban-origin nickel, the strengthening of persecution of the Cuban commercial and financial assets. It was also established the Cuban Assets Identification Group, to discover the input and output ways of Cuban finances.
From 1996 to 2012 the US government, only through the State Department and the USAID, allocated 205 million dollars in its effort to subvert the Cuban society, of which 75 million dollars have been granted by the Obama administration. According to a diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks, on April 15th 2009, Jonathan Farrar, then Head of the US Interest Section in Havana wrote: “[W]e see very little evidence that the mainline dissident organizations have much resonance among ordinary Cubans. Despite claims that they represent “thousands of Cubans”, we see little evidence of such support.’
Radio and TV Martí were established in 1983 and 1990, respectively, and are both run by the federally funded Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) based in Miami, Florida. Their unlawfulness has been denounced bilaterally and before the relevant international organizations. They are offensive to the Cuban people since they manipulate the name and ideals of Cuban national hero Jose Marti.
Since the OCB’s inception, more than 530 million dollars have gone into funding Radio and TV Martí broadcasts. A 2008 poll of the Cuban population, conducted through a random telephone survey, showed that less than 1 percent of the population tuned into Radio Martí, paralleling TV Martí’s audience, which was also less than 1 percent. In contrast, National Public Radio (NPR) received in 2011 roughly 5 million dollars annually in federal funding, and provides award-winning coverage to 27.2 million listeners every week. All this occurs when most politicians currently talk about the necessity of reducing government spending. Well, this could be a nice place to start. Both are expensive and fruitless remnants of Cold War-era propaganda battles. Their termination would go largely unnoticed by Cubans and be applauded by most U.S. taxpayers.
At this moment of my presentation is obvious, and particularly here in Georgia, that I failed to mention President Carter. On him we should remember what was said by Fidel regarding his courage to try to enhance bilateral relations at a time when all conditions were not met. President Carter was responsible for the opening of both Interest Sections in Washington and in Havana.
The Obama Administration, on one hand, by issuing a general license, restored the right of American of Cuban origin to freely travel to Cuba and send remittances to their relatives and allowed more educational and religious travels to Cuba. That policy, while positive in its letter, its declared spirit was not to reverse senseless, inhumane measures that separated families but to increase the influence over the Cuban people by exposing it to the “American values”.
We accept that challenge. Before the Obama Administration’s travel regulations almost 2 million foreign tourists came to Cuba every year. Being islanders Cubans generally love exchanging with the outside world. For decades Cuba has been exposed to the American culture. The passion for baseball came to Cuba trough the United States and also became the national pastime. Cuban music has historically been influenced by the best sources of American music.
The Cuban Government and its leaders have always shown willingness to find a modus Vivendi with the United States. As early as April 1959 Fidel Castro traveled to the US and during an interview with then vice President Richard Nixon, explained the economic, social and political goals of the nascent Revolution. The meeting with Nixon lasted just over two hours and the judgment of U.S. Vice President was declassified years later: "with regard to his visit to the United States, his primary interest was not to achieve a change in the sugar quota or obtain a government loan, but to win the support of the American public for his policies ... I must admit that I hardly found in his arguments reasons to disagree”.
In August 1961, Che Guevara arranged an all-night meeting with White House aide Richard Goodwin by using an Argentine diplomat as an intermediary to dare Goodwin smoke a Cuban cigar. Che emphasized several salient points that would be repeated in almost all future negotiations and remain relevant today.
First, as Goodwin wrote in a secret memorandum of conversation to President Kennedy, Cuba was clearly interested in a dialogue that would lead to coexistence. "They would like a modus vivendi, at least an interim modus vivendi," Goodwin reported.
Second, the nature of Cuba's political system was nonnegotiable. Goodwin continued: "He said they could discuss no formula that would mean giving up the type of society to which they were dedicated."
Finally, Che Guevara raised the issue of how the two countries would find "a practical formula" to advance toward an accommodation. He made a pragmatic suggestion—one that Cuba would invoke again and again in pressing for a diplomatic dialogue over the next 48 years: "He knew it was difficult to negotiate these things but we could open up some of these issues by beginning to discuss secondary issues (…) as a cover for more serious conversation."
This position was reiterated by Fidel Castro along the years and every year since 2006, by Cuban president Raul Castro.
On March 12th 2013, only 10 days ago, hardliner Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who don’t know Cuba but has manipulated his Cuban origin to built a political career, criticized the more than 400 000 Americans and Cuban Americans who traveled to Cuba last year, and said something like “You just went to Cuba to fulfill your curiosity, which I could have told you about if you'd come and seen me for five minutes”.
Some legislators of Cuban origin and a few others who, I emphasize, do not know Cuba at all, have entitled themselves with the capacity to tell the American people what to think when it comes to Cuba. Cuba, being only 90 miles away, which is approximately the distance from Athens to Atlanta that is 70 miles, is the only country American citizens are banned to travel to.
And this includes countries with which the United States is at war. Perhaps they don’t really trust you as the best US Ambassadors, or there’s some other reality in Cuba they don’t want you to see.
After 50 years the US Government should treat Cuba as an adult neighbor and put in place a policy that respond to its national interest and the desire of the vast majority of its citizens, including but not limited to those of Cuban origin, and not to the childish whims of a handful of personal interest-driven short-sighted politicians. Americans citizens should have the right to travel to Cuba to enjoy the Cuban traditional and modern culture, unparalleled beaches and its hospitality whose solid rock is its highly-educated people.
American citizens should have the right to enjoy Cuban products that are often unique. American citizens shouldn’t have to smuggle Cuban rum Havana Club and Cuban cigars into the United States, or otherwise purchase bad copies, produced elsewhere by companies like Bacardi, which contributes financially to maintaining the current policy.
But let’s forget about leisure, which however is an important part of life. Let’s talk about the human dimension of the sanctions against Cuba. Around 24.6 million people suffer from diabetes in the United States. There is a 15-25% lifetime risk for foot ulcer development in diabetic patients. More than 100,000 diabetic patients had a foot amputation in 2007. 69% of diabetic amputees will not survive past five years.
Diabetic foot ulcer treatments have an annual cost of $1.5 billion to the Medicare system. In 2007, the average cost per episode of treating a lower extremity diabetic ulcer had risen to $8,000. The average cost rises to $17,000 for infected ulcers. The US society shouldn’t have to witness how 100 000 Americans are amputees every year as a result of diabetic foot ulcer, while 90 miles away Cuban scientists produce Heberprot P, a unique drug known by its high effectiveness against this disease.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that over 210,000 new cancers of the lung and bronchus are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. 15% of all diagnosed cancers are lung cancer. The ACS also reports that over 150,000 Americans will die from lung cancer every year. This represents 28% of all cancer deaths. Lung cancer is responsible for more cancer-related deaths than any other type of cancer, by a wide margin.
In 2011 Cuban medical authorities released the first therapeutic vaccine for lung cancer. CimaVax-EGF is the result of a 25-year research project at Havana’s Center for Molecular Immunology, and it could make a life or death difference for those facing late-stage lung cancers. CimaVax-EGF doesn’t prevent cancer from existing in the first place but attacks the mechanism by which it does harm. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are still recommended as a primary mean of destroying cancerous tissue, but for those showing no improvement the new vaccine could be a literal lifesaver.
The Cuban Pediatric Cardiological Centre ‘William Soler’ lacks a medicine called Levosimendan that is used in the treatment of decreased cardiac output and is only manufactured by ABBOTT Laboratories in the United States.
Besides, the hospital is prevented from the possibility of purchasing in the US market the laminar tissue required for tissue expanders, which are used to treat children suffering from deep burns. Between 100 and 110 children under the age of one are treated every year at the cardiovascular surgery service of the ‘William Soler’ children’s hospital. More than 90 per cent of them require parenteral nutrition before undergoing surgery for a better prognosis. Cuba has no access to the parenteral food supplements that are manufactured in the United States, considered to be the best for the uses they would be destined for at that hospital.
The Cuban company Medicuba S.A. which imports medicines, reagents and medical supplies has found it impossible to acquire obstetrics and gynecology instruments because the Panamanian supplier A/E cancelled this operation claiming that the factory that manufactured them had been acquired by a US company, which prevented it from exporting those products to Cuba. A Canadian intermediary company cancelled the sales contract it had signed with Medicuba for the acquisition of the US-manufactured HIV-1P24 ELISA kits used to diagnose AIDS in children born from mothers who test positive for HIV/AIDS after it learned that the final destination of these products was Cuba. The Cuban health authorities have been forced ever since to resort to other options that involve the searching out and import of those kits from farther away markets at much higher prices.
Neither Cuban nor American patients would have to suffer if a common sense policy was in place. These are just a few examples. In 2010 the United States imported a total of 118,000 metric tons of nickel products. Of that number, 46,700 were from Canada which represented a 39.5%; Russia 20,700 tons, 17.5%, 11,300 of Norwegian, 9.5%, 10,600 in Australia, 8.9% other 10% in Finland, France, Germany and Japan. Well, perhaps you would be surprised to know that only 90 miles away, Cuba, being one of the World’s top five largest nickel exporters produced in 2010, 69 700 metric tons.
Since 2011 Cuba has increased its efforts to develop its hydrocarbon resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. To perform the drilling activities Cuba used a Chinese-built drilling rig, owned by Italian oil giant Eni and contracted by Spanish oil firm Repsol YPF. After being anchored in Singapore, it departed for a journey of more than 100 days that included stops in South Africa and Brazil before reaching Cuba in December. All this had to be done to avoid a blockade sanction banning Cuba from using technology with more than 10% of American components. The US oil industry shouldn’t have to silently witness how Cuba develops its oil resources with the help of companies from China, Russia, India, Norway, Angola or Malaysia, when Cuba has repeatedly invited them to participate.
Cuba could be a valuable partner for the United States in several fields of national security. In this regard, in July 2009 Cuban presented to the US Government a new migratory accord draft which was not accepted by the US.
In January 2010, Cuba presented a draft agreement of cooperation to fight drug trafficking which hasn’t been responded. And in early 2012, Cuba reiterated its willingness to create a cooperation mechanism to fight terrorism, also unanswered.
Along 54 years of Revolution Cuba has been the target of brutal terrorist acts multiple times. In the 1960’s, CIA secrets plans to sabotage the Cuban economy and provoke internal destabilization encompassed the explosion of the steamboat “La Coubre”, the firing of commercial stores like “El Encanto” and the systematic burning of sugar cane fields.
Cuban embassies were attacked and Cuban diplomats were murdered in the late 1970’s, and early 1980’s, including the killing of Felix Garcia, a Cuban diplomat accredited before the UN in New York. Ironically, this happened a September 11th but on 1980. The visible hand was that of Pedro Remón Rodriguez member of the terrorist organization Omega 7.
In 1976 a Cuban airliner was blown in the air killing 78 people, including all 24 members of the youth Cuban national fencing team that had just won all the gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Championships; many were teenagers. Two Cuban exiles were immediately linked to the explosion by the CIA and the FBI, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. The former died of natural causes at 85 in Florida, and the latter still lives in Florida.
In 1998 Posada confessed to the New York Times to be the mastermind of a string of bombings to Havana’s tourism facilities that resulted in economic damage and the killing of an Italian citizen by the name of Fabio Di Celmo. After those events, Posada admitted that he could sleep like a baby and that Di Celmo was at wrong place at the wrong time.
Cuba sent to United States people with the mission of infiltrating US-based terrorist organizations. That same year of 1998, on June 16 and 17 the Cuban government provided the FBI with 230 pages, 8 audio recordings and 5 video recordings on terrorist activities being organized from US soil. The FBI was surprised by the abundance of evidence and agreed to offer a formal response within two weeks. The response was the arrest of the Cuban agents who were the source of the information provided, among them, five Cubans known as the Cuban Five. Current Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, served as witness at their trial, along with other 3 retired US generals, and declared that none of the Five had accessed secret government information.
A 1998 report by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that, “Cuba does not pose a significant military threat to the U.S. or to other countries in the region”.
If the US is serious about its fight against terror, it should immediately release the Cuban Five. They have endured the harshest conditions for 15 long years.
That’s enough suffering for them and their families. Besides, the US should stop designating Cuba as state sponsor of terrorism, which the international leaders and sober American politicians know is a joke.
The US Cuba policy is the international issue on which the United States is most isolated. In 2012 for the 21st consecutive year the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a resolution calling for an end to the United States’ blockade against Cuba. United Nations delegates urged President Barack Obama, fresh-off a re-election victory, to “act on the right side of history” and lift Washington’s crushing economic, commercial and financial embargo on the island nation”.
Today, Cuba has diplomatic relations with 190 countries in the World, with all countries in the Western Hemisphere except with EE.UU. During the last Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Cuba was absent but present.
Most countries agreed that there would be no next Summit without Cuba. In 2010 the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was create, which brings together 33 countries in the region without U.S. and Canada. On 28 January 2013, at 160 years of the birth of Cuba's national hero Jose Martí, Cuba was elected unanimously as president pro tempore of this organization, as a result of the history of solidarity and social justice that Cuba holds and shares.
The country ended 2012 with 11 million 163 thousand 934 people, only 1 million more than the population of the state of Georgia, and presented an infant mortality rate below 5% per thousand live births and a life expectancy close to 80 years. Cuba has a network of more than 12,000 facilities for medical care, which is characterized by accessibility and free services and prophylactic counseling. The sector has added almost 500,000 employees, located in a system that includes 11 492 clinics, 152 hospitals, 452 polyclinics, 126 dental clinics, 126 nursing homes, 142 maternity homes, 228 elder houses and 13 institutes providing health care services, teaching and research. Cuba has one doctor for every 143 inhabitants, one dentist for every 878 and one nurse for every 117. This entire staff has been trained in the domestic health system.
Cuba eradicated illiteracy in 1961. Schooling by various routes of the population aged 0 to 5 years during 2007/2008 was 99.5%. Schooling of 6-11 years reached 99.7% of the population and in the age of 6-14 years was 99.2%.
Nearly 70% of young Cubans between 18 and 23 years are studying at University. 100% of the children with special educational needs receive appropriate care in Cuban centers. Cuba has far exceeded the 6 goals of UNESCO Program for Education.
Cuba has shared his social achievements with many countries worldwide. In education, methods developed by Cuban experts as "I can" and "Yes I can continue," have been very useful for literacy of millions of people, including indigenous, black and women in rural areas. Until 2009, these methods literate more than 3 million 400 thousand people in 24 countries. More than 30 000 young people from 124 countries and 5 overseas territories study in Cuba, of which almost 24,000 are studying medicine. The "Operation Miracle", a solidarity program to perform eye operations, had restored sight to more than 1 million 300 000 patients from 33 countries, from July 2004 through October 15, 2008.
Not bad for a country with Cuba’s demographic, geophysical and climate characteristics. No one knows how Cuba would look like if it had developed its economic, political and social goals without the hostility of the US Government.
Cuba will continue developing its system with the active participation and support of the majority of its citizens. Beginning in April 2011 the Cuban government subjected to public scrutiny a policy update of the Cuban economic model in order to put itself on the path of development. Of the 11.2 million Cubans, 8,913,838 discussed these changes, or 80%. Over 3 million Cubans provided comments during meetings.
Of the 291 original guidelines 181 were modified and were accepted 39 new, gathering a total of 313 guidelines. The guidelines are intended to give greater prominence to the private sector and less to the government as an economic agent. And I have to emphasize that the guidelines are much more than a wish list, as it was mentioned here, as almost every day we are introducing new decision and pieces of legislation related to them.
During the last Cuban electoral process to elect national deputies and provincial representatives early this year, a total of 7,877,906 people exerted their right to vote representing, 89.69% of registered voters. The average age of the Council of State elected by the Parliament is 57 years and 61.3 % were born after the triumph of the Revolution. Of its 31 members 41.9 percent are women and 38.6 percent are blacks and browns.
Similarly, the National Assembly was renovated into a 67.26 %, women increased their stake to 48.86 % and blacks and browns to 37.9. The 82.68 % of its members have higher level of education and the average age is 48 years.
Of the 15 provinces, 10 women were elected to chair the Provincial Assemblies of People's Power, the average age in these charges is 47 years and all have university level. As shown the political, economic and electoral Cuban, while it has to be improved, it legitimizes daily in their people’s willing and participation.
Cuba will continue to work to achieve a most prosperous and fair society, whether the US Government wants to accompany Cuba in this effort or not.
Cubans know very well that the US Government, unlike its people, has never been on the part of the Cuban people.
This Administration and this Congress have the unique opportunity of adopting the smart, brave and creative policies of the future for which they would have the support of most of the American people and the international community, or otherwise they would be the 11th President and the 29th Congress that continue to waste taxpayers money in a failed an immature policy.
Cuba will be ready for any scenario.