Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 10:36:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject: RHC Special: Alarcon at UN Gen Assmbly on US Blockade
RHC Special: Alarcon at UN Gen Assmbly
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CUBNEWS FROM RADIO HAVANA CUBA
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The address of Cuba's Parliament President, Ricardo Alarcon, before the
United Nation s General Assembly in New York on the need to end Washington's
blockade against Cuba
From Radio Havana Cuba
11 November 1999
For seven consecutive years and by a wide margin, the General Assembly has
adopted seven resolutions similar to the one I now have the honor to submit,
conclusively establishing the need to put an end to the economic, commercial
and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba.
They have all been ignored. Instead of complying with them, in that same
period Washington has enacted two Acts and numerous amendments, as well as
executive and statutory provisions, extending and intensifying a policy
rejected by the international community.
On April 13 this year, an U.S. court forced to take this action arbitrarily
deprived a Cuban-European corporation of its rights by an amendment
furtively added to the 1999 Appropriation Law. International agreements on
trademarks and patents have thus become the most recent victims of a policy
that is as insolent as it is irresponsible.
Neither has Washington respected its own commitments. It promised to
partially modify some secondary aspects of the most offensive of its
laws --those having to do with the denial of visas to foreign business
executives investing in Cuba-- but it has done absolutely nothing in this
regard. On the contrary, a few days before this session of the Assembly, it
published threats against several companies from Europe and other countries.
These actions directly and explicitly belie its widely publicized agreement
with the European Union, and are also escalation in the implementation of
the so-called Helms-Burton Act, because in this case Washington is acting in
favor of people who were not U.S. citizens when their property was
Resolutions have been ignored and understandings have been broken. At the
same time, they are carrying out a dishonest campaign aimed at creating
confusion and perpetuating their unacceptable conduct, which goes against
the legal and ethical obligations that all states must respect.
Pressures and maneuvers intended to thwart the actions of the Assembly have
multiplied this year. Letters have been sent from Washington and other
moves have been made urging member states to vote against the draft
resolution submitted by Cuba. I am not revealing any secrets. I am sure
you know the text of those communications signed by senior State Department
officials. I have three of them here with me.
They are examples of arrogance and a lack of respect for the dignity of the
member states and the intelligence of their representatives. The largest
debtor of this organization, the country that is largely to blame for the
organization's financial crisis because it has not paid its meager
assessment rate while it reaps the greatest benefits from the income
obtained from the UN and all its members for the privilege of being home to
its headquarters, not only ignores the repeated decisions of the Assembly,
but insults it with its presumptuousness and lies.
How can they say at this point in time that there is no blockade, that "the
embargo is a bilateral issue," that its "regulations apply only to persons
or entities subject to United States jurisdiction"? Who do they think they
are fooling? If this is so, why have other countries, which are U.S. trade
partners, been forced to adopt specific regulations to protect themselves
from its extraterritorial intentions? Why has it been necessary to resort
to the WTO? Why the majority votes year after year at this Assembly? Or
are they perhaps trying to say that all persons and entities on this planet
are subject to Washington's jurisdiction?
This letter is not only an offense to the international community, it is
also mockery at the expense of the American people and their elected
officials. It does so when it shamelessly affirms that the U.S. government
is "facilitating greatly the export of U.S. medicines and medical supplies
to Cuba, and permitting food sales." The American Association for World
Health refuted this utterly cynical falsehood and after thoroughly
considering the matter it concluded: "The embargo's restrictions signify
the deliberate blockading of the Cuban population's access to food and
If there were an ounce of truth in the State Department's fallacy, why do
U.S. farmers protest and demand precisely to be allowed to sell their
products to Cuba? Why did 70 senators unsuccessfully strive to put an end
to this prohibition? Or is it that Washington bureaucrats have no regard
for the U.S. Senate either?
In the letter they have circulated, they claim that the purpose of the
blockade is "to restore freedom and democracy in Cuba," and they attempt to
slander our country, accusing it of alleged human rights violations.
This from a government that with its economic war denies all Cubans --
children, sick people, the elderly and women included-- essential food and
necessary medicines to save their lives or relieve their pain; a government
that supported Batista's dictatorship to its very end, that trained, armed
and advised the henchmen and torturers who murdered 20,000 Cubans; a
government that attacks the Cuban people because it has never forgiven them
for defeating tyranny and reaching full liberation through a heroic
The U.S. letter also omits some important details. It fails to mention that
Washington shamelessly interferes in Cuba's internal affairs, that it
organizes, promotes and finances subversive actions intended to undermine
Cuban society and overthrow its government, and openly proclaims all this.
Here we have, for example, an AID press release detailing the funds spent on
these activities during the first eight months of 1999: a total of 6,111,000
dollars. This amount, budgeted under Section 109 of the Helms-Burton Act,
is but a small part of the resources overtly used against Cuba. Another 22
million US dollars allocated this year for their illegal radio and TV
broadcasts should be added to it. This is federal budget money directly and
openly supplied by governmental agencies; it would be necessary to add to it
that which is indirectly handed out through seemingly private agencies.
We can only imagine the funds, which are certainly copious, secretly
channeled through the Central Intelligence Agency, to which reference is
made in Section 115 of the same Act, or those earmarked, under Section 108,
for secretly gathering information on the Cuban economy and the activities
of foreign companies there, which serves as a basis for the punitive
measures that Washington takes against the executives of these companies and
their relatives, and on which the Administration regularly informs the
Congress, although confidentially, of course.
Freedom and democracy are not the exclusive property of the United States,
and its government has no reason to claim them as its own. No one has
empowered them to decide what the political and social organization of other
countries should be, and Cuba is not and will never again be their colony.
The economic warfare against Cuba began at exactly the moment when the
Cubans overthrew the Batista dictatorship, a loyal ally and servile
instrument of the United States, and the actual purpose of that policy is,
precisely, to snatch away the freedom and democracy conquered after a long,
hard struggle. The true purpose of the blockade is to divest Cubans of
their country and appropriate their lands, their houses, their schools and
hospitals, and submit them once again to U.S. domination, and this is what
the infamous Helms-Burton Act expresses with detailed accuracy.
This policy also hurts the sovereign prerogatives of the rest of the world's
countries, and It could not be any other way, because from the first day and
throughout four decades the blockade has permanently and systematically
attacked the very foundation of civilization, its most sacred principle: an
entire people right to life.
It has been and still is the United States' objective since 1959 to destroy
the Cuban people. It is genocide, purely and simply. For four decades that
blockade has deliberately been sustained against the Republic of Cuba and
all of its people, thus causing illnesses and deaths, pain and suffering to
millions of Cubans victims of a policy still in force. The guilty parties
should be punished in compliance with the Convention on the Prevention and
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted on December 9, 1948. No matter
how much they try to hide it, there is more than enough irrefutable evidence
to prove it, and it can now be read in declassified official documents.
On January 1, 1959, even before the revolutionary government was in place,
the first blow was dealt to the national economy, when those who had
plundered the Treasury escaped to the United States under U.S. protection.
Four hundred and twenty-four million dollars, the country's only reserves,
left with them and were never returned to Cuba.
Not only did they gain control of these Cuban assets but on February 12 that
year, Washington decided against granting any loans to Cuba, not even the
very modest one that was requested to support the Cuban currency, which had
been the victim of this brutal robbery.
The economic warfare against Cuba began before the adoption of the first
revolutionary measure, and long before the Cuban Revolution was proclaimed a
From its earliest stage, this warfare was and continues to be today a war
against the Cuban nation, against its independence, and against all the
In a U.S. State Department memorandum dated June 24, 1959, the essence of
the policy already being implemented against Cuba was clearly set out. It
was believed at that time that if Cuba were deprived of its quota privilege
in the US sugar market, "the sugar industry would promptly suffer an abrupt
decline, causing widespread further unemployment. The large numbers of
people thus forced out of work would begin to go hungry." At the same
meeting where this memorandum was issued, U.S. Secretary of State Herter
defined these initial actions as "measures of economic warfare." Another
document, drafted on April 6, 1960 and approved that same day, expanded the
aggression and was even more explicit: "Every possible means should be
undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba... to bring about
hunger, desperation and the overthrow of government."
A genocidal strategy had been put into effect that has now lasted four
decades. Three generations of Cubans have suffered its consequences, and
two-thirds of the current Cuban population were born and have lived their
entire lives under it. The Cuban people have had to suffer, survive and
develop under totally unfair and unjustifiable conditions, imposed in the
most cold-blooded and calculated manner by the most powerful nation on
Earth, which is seeking in this way to destroy the Cuban nation and
exterminate its people.
The blockade has been implemented by nine U.S. administrations; they have
enforced it through laws, regulations and by-laws in violation of both law
and morality; they have attempted to force other nations to comply with it,
thus trampling their sovereignty and smashing international norms; they have
threatened and suppressed citizens of the United States and other countries;
they have pressured and bribed people everywhere, and attempted to deceive
and manipulate the entire world.
This blockade has always been extraterritorial in nature, because it seeks
to rob Cuba of its independence, trample the sovereignty of other countries,
and punish the entire Cuban population with deliberate cruelty. This is the
way it has always been, from the very first day, 40 years ago. To confirm
this, one need only examine the provisions contained in the Regulations for
Cuban Assets Control (31 CFR.515) in force since July 8, 1963. Included here
are the numerous and illegal measures that interfere with the legitimate
economic and commercial activities of foreign companies based outside U.S.
jurisdiction, and the complete prohibitions not only against the Republic of
Cuba, but also against all persons of Cuban nationality, without exception,
residing in Cuban territory, who are prevented from engaging in any
transactions, and from whom all properties, deposits, savings, inheritances
and pensions have been confiscated and withheld in the United States.
The U.S. authorities have used countless means to carry out, with full
impunity, the abominable crime they are committing against my people. They
have had no qualms about lying to this very Assembly, as they will surely do
once again today.
Very recently, it was demonstrated beyond any doubt that this genocidal
policy has not been modified, and that those who implement it are prepared
to do anything to make it last endlessly. This past August, the U.S. Senate
passed an amendment by a vote of 70 to 28, which was included in the
Agricultural Appropriations Bill, aimed at revising the policy of unilateral
economic sanctions imposed by Washington on other countries by eliminating
the prohibitions related to food and medicine. At the time that the U.S.
Senate was promoting this initiative, Cuba became the only country in the
world to which the United States unilaterally prohibits the sale of food and
medicine. On July 27, they had lifted the prohibition against Iran, Libya
and Sudan, and on September 17, the one applied against the People's
Democratic Republic of Korea.
Despite such a wide majority backing in the Senate, the proposal was not
included in the text of the bill that was finally approved. In order to
remove it, a vote was not taken in the Senate-House conference, which was
arbitrarily shut down in violation of the usual legislative practices and
A good number of U.S. lawmakers protested and denounced the unusual
situation created by forcing them to adopt a text that did not represent the
interest of the majority. What led to this unprecedented action?
Senators John Ashcroft and Sam Brownback and Representative George
Nethercutt, the authors of the amendment, signed a statement published in
the Washington Times on October 20, in which they explain the reason, the
sole reason, why the amendment was not put to a vote: "The unilateral food
and medicine embargo against Cuba must be maintained at any cost."
William Clinton himself acknowledged, on November 5th, that the will to deny
those products to Cuba had been the only cause of what happened in Congress.
Curiously enough, that same day, before a different audience, the president
of the United States insisted on keeping in place the blockade, and tried to
justify it, although he had to admit that almost everybody rejects it.
The group that controls the leadership of the U.S. Congress went so far as
to break with democratic procedures in order to continue depriving the Cuban
people of food and medicine. Moreover, the Cuban people are now the only
people on Earth against which Washington unilaterally applies this criminal
policy, which was prohibited half a century ago by the Geneva Conventions,
even in time of war. And as if that were not enough, by prohibiting trade
with Cuba to its subsidiaries abroad, whose sales in food and medicine
totaled over 700 million dollars, Washington is forcing others to collude in
In order to ensure the total prohibition on exporting food and medicine to
Cuba, they turned a deaf ear to the demands of farmers and other sectors of
U.S. society, and disregarded the views of most lawmakers. To deny the Cuban
people access to food and medicine from the United States, the perpetrators
of this genocide resorted even to this "affront" to their own legislative
procedures, to borrow the term used by the above-mentioned congressmen.
What happened in the case of the Ashcroft Amendment proves that the blockade
completely prevents exports of food and medicine to Cuba. If there were any
truth to the official U.S. propaganda, there would have been no need for
such an amendment, for the votes in favor cast by 70 senators, and for the
clumsy scheming to exclude it from the final text of the bill.
By thwarting its approval, those who sustain the blockade have defied the
opinion of Congress while exposing their determination to maintain the most
cruel and condemnable aspects of a clearly genocidal policy.
The noble intentions inspiring those who strive to introduce this reform
into current U.S. policy notwithstanding, I have to say that even if it had
been approved, it would not have made such a difference nor would it have
made the blockade any less cruel and inhumane. How could we acquire food and
medicine in the U.S. market while that fierce blockade is maintained,
denying us the resources needed for development and preventing normal trade
with the United States, which also tries to boycott our trade with the rest
of the world?
The blockade has created countless obstacles for Cuba's economic
development; it has made it impossible for Cuba to acquire products,
equipment, goods, services and technology; it has deprived it of funding and
credits; it has inflicted severe damage on its foreign trade by depressing
the prices of what we sell and raising the costs of our imports and
transportation; it has affected every sector of the national economy, with
severe consequences for the material conditions in which our people live.
American bureaucrats and diplomats have tirelessly dedicated themselves to
tracking down, throughout the world, every gram of Cuban nickel or sugar
that might be contained in some foreign product to ban it from the U.S.
market, or to prevent the sale to Cuba of any foreign products that contain
as much as a particle originated in the U.S.
It is this blockade, all of it, that must be completely, totally and
The government that it is my honor to represent here is about to undertake
every legal action to fight the blockade and defend the right of its people.
In this token, I am officially announcing to this Assembly that a lawsuit
will be filed against the government of the United States for compensation
of over 100 billion dollars on account of the enormous damages caused to the
people of Cuba by the blockade, which has lasted over 40 years now, since it
really began in 1959 with the first economic measures taken against our
Cuba has never been and will never be subdued. Despite the tightening of the
blockade and the aggression, it has succeeded in halting its economy's
downslide and initiating a process of sustained and irreversible recovery.
The capacity for resistance of its heroic, self-sacrificing and noble people
is founded on the unity and patriotism that nothing and no one will ever be
able to destroy.
These people have traveled a long and hazardous road in their endless
struggle for independence and justice. They know that the road ahead will
neither be easy but they march on full of confidence because they believe in
the value of principles, and they are persuaded of the righteousness of
their cause that transcends the borders of their small territory.
They also believe in international solidarity, in equality and fraternity
among peoples, and in the political and moral strength of this Assembly, in
whose vote they trust.
[c] 1999, Radio Habana Cuba
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