Threats and coercion will not extract a single concession from Cuba

Speech by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, during the general debate of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, September 28, 2019.

Reprinted from Granma

(Council of State Transcript)

Mr. President;

Heads of state and government;

Distinguished delegates;

I would like to convey my sincere condolences to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for the loss of life and the terrible destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian. I call upon the international community to mobilize resources in order to provide assistance to that country.

Mr. President:

I want to denounce, before this General Assembly of the United Nations, that just a few months ago the U.S. government began to implement, criminal, non-conventional measures to prevent the arrival of fuel shipments to our country from different markets, by resorting to threats and persecution against companies that transport fuel, flag states, states of registration, as well as shipping and insurance companies.

As a result, we are facing severe difficulties in ensuring the supply of fuel which the everyday-life of the country demands; and have been forced to adopt temporary emergency measures that could only be implemented in a well-organized country, with a united, solidary people, ready to defend itself from foreign aggression and preserve the social justice we have achieved.

In the course of last year, the U.S. government has steadily and qualitatively increased its hostile actions and the blockade of Cuba. Additional obstacles to foreign trade have been erected and persecution increased of banking and financial relations we have with the rest of the world. Extreme restrictions on travel have been imposed, and on any sort of interaction between the two peoples. Relations and contact with their home country have been hindered for Cubans living in the United States.

To date, the strategy of imperialism against Cuba has been guided by the infamous Memorandum issued in 1960 by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lester Mallory, which I quote: “… There is no effective political opposition (…) The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support (from the government) is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship (…) every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life (…) denying money and supplies to Cuba to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of government”.

The illegal Helms Burton Act of 1996 guides the aggressive behavior of the United States against Cuba. Its essence is a brazen attempt to question Cuba’s right to self-determination and national independence.

It likewise envisions the imposition of the U.S. legal authority and the jurisdiction of its courts on Cuba’s commercial and financial relations with any country, thus riding roughshod over international law and the national jurisdiction of Cuba and third states, while establishing the alleged supremacy of the law and the political will of the U.S.

The economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. continues to be the principal obstacle to our country’s development and progress in the process to update the socialist economic and social development model that our country has designed.

Every year the U.S. government allocates tens of millions of dollars from the federal budget to political subversion, with the purpose of creating confusion and weakening the unity of our people, articulated with a well-coordinated propaganda campaign aimed at discrediting the Revolution, its leaders and glorious historical legacy; disparaging the economic and social policies that support development and justice, and destroying the ideas of socialism.

Last Thursday, on the basis of crude slanders, the State Department announced that the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, will not be granted a visa to enter this country. This is an action that is void of any practical effect, meant as an affront to Cuba’s dignity and the sentiments of our people. This is nothing but vote-catching crumb tossed to the Cuban-American right. Nonetheless, the offensive, obvious falsehoods being used in an attempt to justify this move, which we strongly reject, are a reflection of the lowness and degeneracy to which this administration resorts, drowning in a sea of corruption, lies, and immorality.

All of these are actions and behaviors that infringe upon international law and violate the UN Charter.

The most recent pretext, reiterated right here, last Tuesday, by the President of the United States Donald Trump was that Cuba is responsible for the failure of plans to overthrow the Bolivarian government of Venezuela. With the purpose of dismissing the heroic feats of the Venezuelan people, imperialist spokespersons repeat, over and over again, the vulgar slander that our country has “between 20 to 25 thousand troops in Venezuela,, and that “Cuban imperialism exercises control” over the country.

A few minutes ago, the President of Brazil, at this same podium, read a script of false allegations drafted in Washington, increasing that shameless figure to “around 60 thousand Cuban troops” in Venezuela.

As part of its anti-Cuban obsession, the current U.S. administration, echoed by Brazil, is attacking international medical cooperation programs that Cuba conducts with tens of developing countries, which are designed to assist the neediest communities, based on solidarity and the free and voluntary will of hundreds of thousands of Cuban professionals, programs which are being implemented according to cooperation agreements signed with the governments of those countries. These have enjoyed, for many years now, the recognition of the international community, the UN and the World Health Organization as a good example of South-South Cooperation.

As a result, many Brazilian communities were deprived of free quality health care which, under the “More Doctors” program was offered by thousands of Cuban professionals.

This period has not been exempted from the most shameless threats and coercion, or immoral invitations for our country to betray its principles and international commitments in exchange for oil under preferential conditions and questionable good friends.

In commemorating the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, when Cubans achieved our true and final independence, First Secretary Raúl Castro said, and I quote: “…we Cubans are ready to resist a confrontational situation, which we do not want; and hope that more lucid minds in the U.S. government can prevent it,” end of quote.

We have reiterated that, even under the present circumstances, we will not renounce our determination to develop a civilized relation with the United States, based on mutual respect and the recognition of our profound differences. We know this is the desire of our people and the feelings shared by the majority of the U.S. people and Cubans who live in this country.

I likewise reiterate that no economic aggression, threats, or coercion, no matter how harsh, will extract a single concession from us. Those who know the history of Cubans during the long struggle to achieve emancipation and their steadfast defense of the freedom and justice they have conquered, will understand, beyond any doubt, the significance, honest,y and authority of these strong beliefs and ideas treasured by our people.

Mr. President:

Bilateral relations between Cuba and Venezuela are based on mutual respect and true solidarity. We support, without any hesitation, the legitimate government headed by Nicolás Maduro Moros and the civic- military union of the Bolivarian, Chavista people.

We condemn the behavior of the U.S. government toward Venezuela, focused on the encouragement of coups, assassination of the country’s leaders, economic warfare, and sabotage of power plants. We reject the implementation of unilateral, coercive measures and the seizure of the country’s assets, companies, and export revenues. These actions are a serious threat to regional peace and security, as well as a direct attack on the Venezuelan people, facing the cruelest aggression meant to force surrender.

We call upon everyone to raise awareness of these facts and demand the end of unilateral coercive measures, reject the use of force and encourage a respectful dialogue with the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela based on the principles of international law and the constitutional order of that country.

A few days ago, the United States and a handful of countries decided to activate the obsolete Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which envisages the use of the military force. This is an absurd decision that jeopardizes regional peace and security while intending to justify, through a legal trick, interference in the internal affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

It is also a gross violation of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace that heads of state and government of Latin America and the Caribbean signed in Havana, in January of 2014. Of similar significance is the U.S. decision to bring resurrect the nefarious Monroe Doctrine, an instrument of imperialist domination, under which several military interventions and invasions, coups d’états, military dictatorships, and the most atrocious crimes were perpetrated in Our America.

As we witnessed a few days ago in this Assembly, the U.S. President usually attacks socialism in his public statements, with clearly electoral purposes, while promoting a McCarthyist intolerance of those who believe in the possibility of a better world and entertain the hope of living in peace in sustainable harmony with nature and in solidarity with all others.

President Trump ignores or intends to overlook the fact that neoliberal capitalism is responsible for the increasing social and economic inequality affecting even the most developed societies and that, given its nature, fosters corruption, social marginalization, a rise in crime, racial intolerance, and xenophobia. He forgets, or does not know, that capitalism begot fascism, apartheid, and imperialism.

The U.S. government leads gross persecution of political leaders and popular and social movements through disparaging campaigns and outrageously manipulated and politically motivated judicial processes to end policies that, through sovereign control over natural resources and the gradual elimination of social differences, made it possible to build more just and fraternal societies, thus becoming a way out of the economic and social crisis, and a hope for the peoples of the Americas.

Just as they did with former Brazilian president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, whose freedom we demand.

We reject Washington attempts to destabilize the government of Nicaragua and reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with President Daniel Ortega.

We express our solidarity with all Caribbean nations calling for legitimate reparations for the horrendous scars of slavery, as well as the just, special, and differentiated treatment they deserve.

We ratify our historical commitment to the self determination and independence of the sister people of Puerto Rico.

We support Argentina’s legitimate claim for its sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, and South Sandwich Islands.

Mr. President:

The behavior of the current U.S. administration and its strategy of military and nuclear domination are a threat to international peace and security, maintaining almost 800 military bases around the world; promoting projects to militarize outer space and cyberspace, as well as the covert and illegal use of ICTs to attack other states. The U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Missiles (INF) and the immediate commencement of intermediate range missiles tests are intended to launch a new arms race.

The President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, said last year, before this Assembly, and I quote: “…The exercise of multilateralism and the full respect for the principles and rules of international law to advance towards a multipolar, democratic, equitable world are required to ensure peaceful coexistence, preserve international peace and security, and find lasting solutions to systemic problems.”

We reiterate our unrestricted support to a comprehensive, just, and lasting solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, based on the creation of two states, so that the Palestinian people can exercise the right to self determination and have an independent , sovereign state based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We reject the unilateral action of the United States to establish its diplomatic mission in the city of Jerusalem. We condemn violence by Israeli forces against civilians in Palestine and the threat of annexation of occupied territories in the West Bank.

We reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the Saharan people and our support to a solution to the question of Western Sahara so that it can exercise the right to self-determination and live in peace in its own territory.

We support the search for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the situation imposed on Syria, without any foreign interference, with full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We reject any direct or indirect intervention without the consent of the legitimate authorities of that country.

We express our solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Iran, facing an escalation of U.S. aggression. We reject the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the Iran Nuclear Agreement. We call for dialogue and cooperation based on the principles of international law.

We welcome the process of dialogue between the two Koreas. Only through dialogue, without pre-conditions, and negotiations, will it be possible to achieve a lasting political solution on the Korean peninsula. We strongly condemn the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The continued expansion of NATO to the Russian borders creates serious dangers, which are further aggravated by the arbitrary sanctions that we reject.

Mr. President:

We support and admire the recent call made by students and youth for a march in New York. Climate change, with some its effects already irreversible, is a matter of survival, particularly for small developing island states.

Capitalism is unsustainable. Its irrational and unsustainable production and consumption patterns and the growing, unjust concentration of wealth constitute the main threat to the ecological balance of the planet. There can be no sustainable development without social justice.

Special and differentiated treatment for the countries of the South in international economic relations can no longer be overlooked.

The emergency in the Amazon compels us to look for solutions through the cooperation of all, without exclusions or politicization, with full respect for the sovereignty of states.

Mr. President:

There is a proliferation of corruption within political systems and electoral models, which are ever more distant from the will of peoples. Powerful and exclusive minorities, particularly corporate groups, decide the character and composition of governments, parliaments, justice systems, and law enforcement entities.

The U.S. government, after its failed attempt to dominate the Human Rights Council, decided to withdraw from the body to further hinder dialogue and cooperation on this matter.

This is not news that should surprise us. The U.S. is a country where human rights are systematically – and many a time deliberately and flagrantly – violated:

-36,383 persons -100 per day- were killed by firearms in this country in 2018, while the government protects those who manufacture and market them at the expense of citizens’ security.

– 91,757 persons die every year of heart diseases because they lack appropriate treatment.

– Infant and maternal mortality rates among African-Americans are twice as high as those of the white population.

– 28 million persons do not have medical insurance or real access to health services.

– 32 million citizens cannot read or write functionally.
– 2.2 million U.S. citizens are in prison.
-4.7 million are on probation and 10 million are arrested every year.

It is understandable why the President is concerned about attacking socialism.

We reject the politicization, selectivity, punitive approaches and double standards in addressing the human rights question. Cuba will remain committed to the realization of the rights of all persons and peoples to peace, life, self-determination, and development.

We must prevent the imposition of a single totalitarian, overpowering cultural model that destroys national cultures, identities, history, memory, symbols, and individualities and conceals the structural problems of capitalism that lead to increasing, lacerating inequality.

The so-called “cognitive” capitalism offers the same. Digital capitalism crowns the world’s value chains; concentrates the ownership of digital data; exploits identity, information, and knowledge, and jeopardizes the already analogically diminished freedom and democracy. We need to develop new types of humanistic and counter-hegemonic thinking of our own, as well as decisive political action to articulate popular mobilization on the web, in the streets, and at the ballot box.

Independent states need to exercise their sovereignty in cyberspace, abandon the illusion of the so-called “network society” or “access era” and democratize internet governance.

Mr. President:

The universal and profound thoughts of the Apostle of Cuba’s independence, José Martí, continue to inspire and guide younger generations of Cubans. His words, written a few hours before he was killed in combat, are particularly relevant, and I quote: “Every day now I am in danger of giving my life for my country and duty, as I understand it and have the spirit to carry it out – in order to prevent, by the timely independence of Cuba, that the United States extending its hold across the Antilles and falls with greater force on the lands of our America. All that I have done thus far, and all I will do, is for that purpose.”

Words written by Antonio Maceo in 1888 have a similar strength, and I quote: “Whoever tries to conquer Cuba will gather only the dust of her blood-soaked soil, if he does not perish in the fight.”

This is the same, only Cuban Revolution, commanded by Fidel Castro Ruz, which is now headed by First Secretary Raúl Castro and President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

And if at this point there is someone still attempting to force the Cuban Revolution to surrender, or hoping that the new generations of Cubans will betray their past and renounce their future, we repeat, with the same vigor as Fidel: Homeland or Death! We will triumph!

Reprinted from Granma

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