Jorge L. Rodríguez González
THE damages caused by the U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba totaled $975 billion through December 2010, stated Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno on September 14.
Damages caused by the blockade amount to $975 billionDuring a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the presentation of Cuba’s report to the UN General Assembly on Resolution 63/7 on the need to end this policy, Moreno explained that the figure takes into account the depreciation suffered by the dollar in relation to the price of gold on the international market since 1961, which was very high in 2010.
He emphasized that the blockade of Cuba is still being rigorously implemented, and spoke of the persecution of Cuban commercial and financial transactions throughout the world, as well as million-dollar sanctions imposed on companies in third countries that have links with the island.
In this context, he stated that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), attached to the Department of the Treasury, fined four entities the total sum of $502.7 million in 2010. The largest sum was imposed on the Dutch ABN Bank, punished with an exorbitant $500 million for making "unauthorized" financial transactions in the interest of Cuba or Cuban nationals.
Another Dutch bank, ING, faced a criminal investigation for allegedly having relations with Cuba, Iran and Syria in contravention of U.S. restrictions.
Another OFAC victim was the UN Federal Credit Union, fined $500,000 for making financial transactions in which Cuba had an interest.
However strange it might seem, in April 2011, PayPal eBay, which make Internet bank transfers, canceled the transfer of funds raised by the Cuba Support Group in Ireland to an account for Haiti donations in the wake of the devastating earthquake in that country.
And there is much more. The United States has also arbitrarily assumed the right to control resources destined for Cuba via multilateral cooperation.
Moreno said that in January 2011, the U.S. government confiscated $4.2 million from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for its financing of projects to combat the first two diseases in Cuba.
All of these actions – just a few from a long list – clearly reveal the extraterritorial dimension of the blockade, which has been intensified despite Obama’s announcement of a policy change, Moreno observed.
As evidence of the criminal aspects of this policy, the Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister said that the Oncology and Radiobiology Institute has not been able to provide conservative or functional treatment for children or young adults suffering from bone cancer, because the extensile prostheses to replace bone parts in tumor surgery are manufactured by U.S. companies.
The Institute’s Radiotherapy Department has also confronted serious difficulties in relation to parts and accessories after use Best Medical bought up MDS Nordion of Canada, the company which supplied the department, the Cuban report notes.
As exposed on previous occasions, Cuba continues to be denied the opportunity of buying innovative cytostatics of U.S. manufacture, such as adriamycin lipsomal nitrosourea, used specifically in the treatment of encephalic tumors.
There is a similar situation with latest generation antibiotics for babies, particularly those used orally. Certain substitutes can be acquired, but in a partial manner or at the wrong time, thus limiting complete treatments at the required moment.
Referring to the authorization of certain categories of travel, remittances and permission to other airports to operate direct charter flights to Cuba – part of measures announced by the U.S. government on January 14, 2011 – Moreno emphasized that that they are insufficient and very limited in nature.
Essentially, such decisions are not indicative of any will on the part of Washington to make any substantial changes in the blockade policy, but are a reflection of the growing opposition of broad sectors of U.S. society to maintaining it, the report states.
The U.S. government introduced these measures to improve the image of its failed policy on Cuba at a time when domestic and international rejection of it was overwhelming, the text continues. However, the measures were limited to reestablishing some of the provisions in place in the 1990s during the Clinton administration, which were eliminated by George W. Bush starting 2003.
Moreno recalled that the White House is still violating the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens by banning travel to Cuba. To date, only academic, educational, cultural and religious trips are authorized, with a special permit.
However, he insisted that Obama has the power "to increase the categories of Americans who can visit Cuba" through an executive order, without the issue being debated in Congress. "That would be beneficial for both countries," he stated.
The blockade is in violation of international law; it is contrary to the aims and principles of the UN Charter and constitutes a massive violation of the Cuban people’s human rights. It is the principal obstacle to development on the island and additionally violates the sovereign rights of many other states, given its extraterritorial nature, Moreno emphasized.
He stated that the U.S. "continues to cling to conditions and unacceptable interfering demands" as conditions for changing its policy towards Cuba, and added that, being an instrument of immoral unilateral pressure, rejected as such by the international community and within the U.S. nation itself, Washington should unilaterally lift it, "without any further delay and in an unconditional manner."
The Cuban resolution on the Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, will be submitted to the vote of the member countries of the UN General Assembly for the 20th successive year on October 25.
It is expected, as on the previous 19 occasions, that the Assembly will overwhelmingly approve the Cuban resolution against the blockade imposed on the island by a constantly more isolated Washington. In 2010, the Cuban resolution was supported by 187 countries and only opposed by the United States and its ally Israel, with the abstention of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
According to Abelardo Moreno, in response to the call for all member countries to present their position on the issue in writing, 142 countries and 26 UN agencies, funds and programs have done so, a record total. (Taken from Juventud Rebelde)