THE blockade of Cuba implemented by the United States for more than 50 years constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights and has inflicted unquantifiable damage on the country, given its impact in the most sensitive sectors, stated Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla on September 20.
Speaking during the presentation of the report to the UN General Assembly on the need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, the Foreign Minister strongly attacked this Washington policy as coercive, illegal, obsolete and a relic of the Cold War.
"Damages accumulated over 50-plus years due to the implementation of the blockade amounted to one trillion dollars in 2011. For a small economy such as the Cuban one, this is a tremendous burden," he stated. "This figure is rigorously and conservatively calculated on the basis of the depreciation of the dollar in relation to gold, and at current prices is in excess of $100 billion.
During the presentation of the report, organized as a video conference between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Havana and the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the UN in New York, Rodríguez Parrilla noted that the blockade provokes suffering, shortages and difficulties which affect all Cuban families, children, women and senior citizens, and is the principal obstacle to socioeconomic development.
The blockade affects access to raw materials, food and medicines, something prohibited by humanitarian conventions even in wartime.
The Foreign Minister also noted that this policy of hostility has intensified during the Barack Obama administration, with increased pressure on other countries to suspend commercial relations with Cuba and the persecution of international financial transactions.
Listing the advantages for Washington which would result from lifting the blockade, Rodríguez Parrilla mentioned that such a decision would allow the United States to develop a new and credible policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean, a region where nations are unanimously opposed to the blockade; it would gain credibility in terms of human rights; and would end violations of the civil liberties and constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. Currently, American nationals require special licenses to travel to Cuba.
"The government of the United States has reasons for lifting the blockade in respect of its own people, given that it is an illegal instrument of abuse of power which does not function and one that is damaging to the interests of the U.S. people," he commented.
In this context, the Foreign Minister stated that Obama has the constitutional authority to introduce substantial changes to the implementation of the blockade, without the need for legislative decisions.
Nevertheless, he confirmed, Cuba will continue developments in the economic and social contexts, which will require hard work on the part of all the people, but the country will not renounce its independence, or its sovereignty, or its development.