By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – In Cuba, children and adults suffering from malignant bone tumors have not been given functional treatments. Extendable prostheses used to replace bone parts during tumor surgery are sold by US companies. Until now, Cuba cannot use US dollars in its transactions, or freely import or export products, including medicines, to and from the United States.
The intensifying economic, commercial and financial blockade of the US government against Cuba has had a negative impact on the latter’s public health care sector, at an estimated cost of $15 million from May 2010 to April 2011.
The 50-year blockade resulted in economic damages amounting to $975 billion, according to the resolution presented by Cuba before the United Nations General Assembly, Oct. 25. A copy of the resolution was provided to Bulatlat.com by the Cuban Embassy in Manila.
For the 20th consecutive year, the UN General Assembly approved the resolution demanding an end of the US blockade of Cuba, with 186 member states voting in favor of the resolution. Two voted against the resolution: the United States and Israel. Three member states abstained: Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
“The economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba remains in place and is further intensified despite the repeated and almost unanimous demand by the international community, particularly the United Nations General Assembly, for its elimination,” the resolution stated.
Speaking before the assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said, “The President of the United States has sufficient prerogatives to significantly modify the blockade against Cuba, even without the intervention of Congress.”
Under Obama, blockade intensifies
Cuba’s resolution further stated that despite the official rhetoric attempting to convince the international community that the current US government has introduced a policy of positive changes,Cuba continues to be unable to trade with US companies in third countries. Companies from third nations interested in investing in Cuba are “systematically threatened and included on black lists, the resolution stated.
From March 2010 to April 2011, multi-million fines were imposed by the US government to companies and foreign banking institutions engaging operations connected in one way or the other with Cuba.
In an interview, Juan Carlos Arencibia Corrales, Cuban ambassador to the Philippines, enumerated some of these:
1. In 2010, the US Treasury Dept’s Office of Foreign Assets Control fined four entities for a total of $502.72 million, the greatest of which was levied against the ABN Amor Bank of Holland.
2. In July 2010, the UN Federal Credit Union was fined $500,000.
3. In August 2010, British Barclays Bank agreed to pay 298 million dollars.
4. In July 2011, the US started criminal investigations of the ING Bank of Holland.
5. On August 18, 2011, a fine of $374,400 was imposed upon a subsidiary of the French shipping company CMA CGM for services to Cuba.
6. On August 26, the JP Morgan Chase Bank confirmed that it paid a fine of $88.3 million for violating the embargo of Cuba and restrictions against other countries.
“The extra-territorial application of the blockade has been extraordinarily reinforced, as proven by the strengthening of the sanctions and persecution against third countries’ citizens, institutions and companies that establish or intend to establish economic, commercial, financial or scientific and technical relations with Cuba. Thus, the US government abrogates the right to decide on matters that are relative to the sovereignty of other States,” the resolution stated.
“It’s a worldwide economic war against Cuba,” Arencibia said. “This qualifies as genocide.”
The Cuban ambassador explained that the blockade has caused needless suffering to the Cuban population, limits and restrains the development of the country and seriously damages the Cuban economy.
“No blockade has ever been as far-reaching and brutal against a people as the one being implemented by the United States against the Cuban population for half a century. Due to its cruelty and impact, this policy may be defined as an act of genocide by virtue of item C of Article II of the 1948 Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” the resolution stated.
Arencibia said measures taken by President Obama on the travel and remittances by Cuban migrants in the US do not change the complex framework of laws, regulations and provisions of the blockade policy against Cuba. US citizens are still prohibited from travelling to Cuba, save very few exceptions and through very strict regulations.
“The main framework remains intact,” said Arencibia, pointing out that the US wants to create destabilization to undermine the Cuban revolution.
As a result of the strict and fierce enforcement of US laws pertaining to Cuba, the latter continues to be unable to freely export or import goods and services to or from the United States, use the US dollar in its international financial transactions, have bank accounts in US dollars, in banks from third countries.
The Cuban ambassador said the blockade violates International Law and is against the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
“The blockade continues to be an absurd, illegal and morally unsustained policy that has not succeeded and will never succeed in fulfilling the purpose of breaking the political will of the Cuban people to preserve its sovereignty, independence and right to self-determination,” Arencibia said.
“The blockade is a unilateral and immoral policy which is rejected both within the United States and by the international community. The United States must lift it immediately and unconditionally,” he said.