The Sunday Mail
Ambassador Carmeliina Ramirez Rodriguez
Since 1962, an economic, commercial and financial blockade has been officially imposed on Cuba by the United States of America government – the most unfair, severe and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions ever applied against any country.
According to official figures, this blockage has cost the Cuban economy US$933,7 billion in cumulative damages.
But this past year, the American blockade has been tightened, with even more notable adverse effects on the economy, especially through its extraterritorial application.
The blockade has continued to be the central pivot of US government policy.
Since April 2019, the US Department of State has put in place new sanctions on Cuba in order to prevent Havana from accessing foreign exchange, fuel, medicaments and food.
It also has been intimidating the international business community from having commercial relations with Cuba.
The US Department of State has on three occasions expanded the “Restricted List of Cuban Entities and Sub-Entities”, which gives effect to the blockade.
In fact, on April 17 2019, it announced its decision to make it possible – through Title III of the Helms-Burton Act – to take judicial action in US courts against Cuban enterprises or companies, or against Cuban individuals or third countries that do business with properties nationalised in the 1960s.
This decision ended the practice, assumed since 1996 by earlier US governments and by President Trump himself in the first two years of his mandate, to routinely suspend this punitive provision every six months.
Besides that, in June 2019, Washington discontinued the general permits for “people-to-people” group educational travel, including permits for non-commercial aircraft, passengers and recreational ships, including cruise ships, for temporary stays.
And this has severely curtailed travel of US citizens to Cuba.
All of these actions were deliberately meant to cause economic harm and deprive Havana of financial resources.
The arbitrary actions have seriously dented Cuba’s foreign trade relations and affected foreign direct investment.
No citizen or sector of the economy is able to escape the negative effects of this unilateral policy, which stifles development.
Without any doubt, the behaviour of the current United States government is cruel and also disregards the international community, which has for 27 consecutive years condemned the blockade against Cuba within the framework of the United Nations.
It ignores successive resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly and the declarations of the Heads of State and Government of the European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean, the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Group of 77, China and the Non-Aligned Movement, among other organisations that have demanded an end to the blockade of Cuba.
The blockade against Cuba represents the biggest impediment to developing the Cuban economy, especially its National Economic and Social Development Plan.
It also makes it difficult to attain Agenda 2030 and achieve sustainable development.
The blockade is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights of all Cuban men and women since it is calculated to make Havana capitulate through hunger, disease and desperation.
Further, the blockade is an act of genocide, according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948.
According to the Naval Conference of London of 1909, it is also an act of economic warfare.
Moreover, it is in violation of the United Nations Charter and International Law.
Despite the obsession by the US government to destroy our socialism, Cuba has advanced and may show the world good social statistics in health, education, tourism.
We did not renounce our dreams of development and wellbeing.
At the end of 2018, Cuba registered a life expectancy of 78,5 years and a child mortality rate of four per thousand live births.
The immune level was 98 percent, with 14 infectious diseases eradicated.
Also nine were no longer a health problem, while 29 communicable diseases had been controlled.
In essence, the indicators that certified Cuba as the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis were maintained.
However, the health sector remains the most vulnerable to the American policy.
As if that is not enough, the US government now attacks the Cuban medical cooperation programmes with developing countries, with the aim of discrediting and sabotaging them.
These programmes, based on ethical and humanistic principles, are an example of South-South cooperation, and have helped many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, to improve health coverage and provide quality medical care in remote areas.
Cuba shall not renounce its principles, nor shall it relent in its continued push for the complete removal of the blockade.
Therefore, on November 6 and 7 2019, Cuba shall once again present the draft resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States of America against Cuba”, to the United Nations General Assembly.
Once again, we express our deep gratitude to the Zimbabwean government and the Zimbabwean people for their permanent support in our fight against this illegal, genocidal and extraterritorial policy.
Both Zimbabwe and Cuba are suffering the effects of economic sanctions that are impeding development.
Cuba is not alone.
Our country will continue to give its support, at the price of our people’s sacrifices, to the Southern countries that need it.
Carmeliina Ramirez Rodriguez is Cuba’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe.