By: Enrique Milanés León / Source: Juventud Rebelde / CNN.com / The Dawn / October 27, 2015.- Even though the U.S. representative seemed to recycle the same speech from another time, the testimony of 191 countries opposing the blockade condemned the economic, financial and commercial siege and recognized the nobility of a nation that has overcome the isolation.
Cuba achieved this Tuesday the most redundant international support of all the 24 UN votes that have been held since 1992 against the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the U.S.. 191 countries voted for the island’s resolution, none abstained, and only the responsible country —U.S.— along with its minion —Israel— opposed.
Initially, U.S. discussions had considered abstaining on the annual vote. The U.S. had considered taking a less emphatic stance on the resolution in light of the new opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries. U.S. officials said they decided to cast a “no” ballot because the text did not fully reflect the spirit of the recent opening between the two former enemies.
In his intervention before the vote, Minister of Foreign Relations, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, called to not confuse reality with wishes or words of goodwill. Despite the U.S. approach in discourse, “the facts clearly show that the blockade remains in full force. 10 months after December 17th, not a single tangible modification to the blockade has been done”.
The Chancellor thanked the people, governments, members of the civil society and international organizations that contributed, year after year, to affirm the validity of Cuba’s demand, and he expressed gratitude towards the American people for backing it up.
The resolution is not enforceable, but the yearly exercise has become a symbolic ritual framing the embargo as illegitimate and demonstrating Washington’s isolation on the issue. Last year, the vote count was 188-2, with Israel once again the only country to stand by the U.S.
With a posture that surprised many for its political stubbornness, in the explanation offered for the negative vote of his country, U.S. delegate Ronald Godard “regretted” that Cuba submitted this annual resolution to the UN and suggested that the island had mistaken its strategy. U.S. delegate Ronald Godard told the U.N. that “we find it unfortunate that despite our bilateral progress, Cuba introduced a resolution nearly identical to those in past years”. What is really unfortunate is the Northern country’s blindness towards the topic.
After the intervention of the U.S. delegate, Nicaraguan delegate took her turn, to say that she expected different words from her American counterpart, but instead she heard the same rhetoric and arrogance to justify the “unjustifiable”.
“Cuba was not wrong in presenting its resolution; the entire world supports it”, she responded before adding, echoing words from Salvador Allende, that Latin America and the Caribbean demand, with the voice of the continent, that the U.S. ceases the blockade to Cuba.
The ceasing of the blockade is a global cause
The permanent representative of Iran, in the name of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), celebrated the overwhelming support that the General Assembly has expressed to Cuba for over 24 years. The NAm calls the U.S. to end the blockade that violates international law, the UN Charter and pacific relations between states. Besides, he denounced that this policy causes severe damages to the Cuban people in public health, nutrition, agriculture, commerce and tourism.
He pointed out that, despite the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S., the blockade has harshened during the current administration of Barack Obama, which translates into the 42 sanctions against U.S. and foreign entities for more than 13 billion dollars.
The permanent representative of Ecuador, in the name of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, for its Spanish initials), exposed that the blockade is the first obstacle in the development of Cubans and that it flagrantly contravenes the UN Charter.
The South African diplomat, who spoke in the name of the G77 and China, declared that it is disheartening that the U.S. Congress did not pass any of the laws that tried to soften the blockade.
In the name of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the representative of Kuwait stated that the blockade has not only hurt Cuba’s economy, but that it also affects other countries. ”Continuing to ignore the international will undermines the credibility of the UN”, he sentenced.
Mercosur was represented by a diplomat from Paraguay, who also stressed the importance of respecting international law.
Mexico remembered their long-lasting solidarity with Cuba. “As in previous years, we repeat that the only organisms capable of applying sanctions are the Security Council and the General Assembly”. He also congratulated Cuba for the high Human Development Index achieved despite the obstacles.
Venezuela spoke to denounce the most unjust, severe and prolonged sanction applied to any other country in the world. “The brutal blockade has tried to break the will of the Cubans of building a free and sovereign motherland and to isolate them”, said Rafael Ramírez, and he added that Washington has not only not succeeded in isolating Cuba, but, instead, the one who is isolated is the oppressor. “The U.S. Congress has no faculties to rule over the world”.
Russia affirmed that the unilateral sanctions to achieve political ends are unjustified. “It is a vestige from the Cold War. We hope that the definitive elimination of the blockade follows, as a logical step, the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.”
To Bolivia, “not only Cuba is victim of the blockade, but the whole international community is violated by this measure”. He also thanked Cuba’s “unconditional” solidarity towards Bolivia.
India denounced that the blockade has prevented inversion in technology and cooperation with other countries. Despite that, the island is an example because it has achieved the Millennium Development Goals and was a leader in the response to the Ebola crisis in Africa.
CUBA. Unfair blockage causes great damages to education in our country
By Lissy Rodríguez Guerrero / Granma.cu / The Dawn / October 24, 2015.- Primary education, is one of the most affected areas by the stifling economic policy.
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States to Cuba, affects one particular sector of the Cuban population the most: the one that every morning dawns with chalk dust and eraser in hand, whether teacher or pupil; those who are responsible for educating our children and young people, and for whom the highest percentage of GDP (13%) is destined, even more than the First World countries. “The blockade constitutes a violation of Cuba’s right to education”— announced, on Friday, Dr. Paul Torres Hernández, deputy director of the Educational Science Center—, however, he added, damages continue to be reported in that branch, basically due to the high freight costs of transporting products purchased in China, which is the main international market for the acquisition of educational media.
“In the period between April, 2014 and March, 2015, the total cost of transportation from that country, which consisted in 509 containers of necessary goods, amounted to almost two million dollars. If Cuba could buy these products in the southern states of the United States, and could send them from the Florida ports, transportation would cost only $771,600. Losses in the area increased compared to last year, by $242,600”, he said.
Another source of damage to the education sector caused by the blockage is related to the barriers imposed for the payment of services rendered abroad, in which Cuba often “needs to make a routing for the money transfer or use alternative routes, which are hardly ever safe and are subjected to taxation”.
In that sense, he said, the transfer of payments to Cuba for services and contracts signed for international cooperation have to be made in euros or Canadian dollars, due to the impossibility of using the US dollar. Torres Hernández exemplified this with the case of the retention of the payment, in an Ethiopian Bank, to a group of professionals of the technical education (ETP), “because the transaction was made in US dollars, despite having stated that it should be in euros”.
The current blockade is also accountable for the problem of the lack of resources needed for the fulfillment of the school curriculum. For example, this is evidenced in the absence of teaching materials for Geography classes, Natural Sciences, Mathematical, and Labor Education —which is a priority in Primary School— laboratory content for Physics, Chemistry and Biology; sports implements for Physical Education and teaching aids for World History and Geography—in Middle School.
Torres Hernández also said that limitations are reported in the acquisition of laboratories and equipment for the development of auditory and communicative skills in 41 language schools belonging to the Adult School system; as well as in the books and tools needed for arts education.
The damage caused to the ETP, added Torres Hernández, made the fulfillment of editorial plans impossible, and influenced the technological backwardness of machines and tools, the lack of resources for Natural and Traditional Medicine laboratories, and the shortage of fuel for training technicians in the agricultural industry.
“There are restrictions on academic and research exchange for our professors and researchers with their counterparts in the U.S. Schools and Universities”, he said on the effects of the blockage on the formation of the teaching staff.
Moreover, the siege imposed on Cuba has prevented access to the necessary tools for the production of educational multimedia and also to computer pieces and supplies, because they are purchased in foreign markets.