UN votes against US blockade

On 9 November, Cuba won a significant victory at the United Nations, with 183 countries supporting its annual demand for the lifting of the illegal US blockade. Only the United States, its notorious ally Israel and the tiny US-dependent Pacific nations of the Marshall Islands and Palau opposed the resolution. This is the highest level of support since Cuba first presented the resolution 15 years ago and indicates an increased willingness by oppressed nations to unite against US imperialism.
Presenting the resolution, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque spoke of the blockade as an ‘economic war’ which ‘constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. Over the last 48 years, the US blockade has caused economic damages to Cuba in excess of $86 billion’.
Roque gave the lie to US claims that the blockade is ‘a bilateral issue’ with a detailed description of how it impacts on the sovereignty and rights of third nations. For example:

• The Torricelli law of 1992 prevents the companies of other countries from trading with Cuba and bans from US ports for six months ships that have previously transported goods to or from Cuba.
• The Helms-Burton law of 1996 bans US imports that contain Cuban raw materials and bans companies from other countries from exporting to Cuba products that contain more than 10% of US components. Business owners who trade with Cuba will find that they and their families may be prohibited from entering the US or face trial there if they do enter.
• The US has now passed legislation refusing all exports relating to medical equipment that can be used by Cuba in health programmes abroad – a direct attempt to stifle the extraordinary efforts of Cuban medical staff in helping those in developing countries from Venezuela to Pakistan.
Roque put the blockade in the context of US plans for the recolonisation of Cuba approved by President Bush in 2004 and again in an updated version in 2006. The proposals include:
• returning all property in Cuba to its former owners;
• a Permanent Committee of the US Government for the Economic Reconstruction of Cuba which would privatise health and education and abolish social security and pensions (with pensioners offered construction work, instead, in a so-called ‘Cuban Retirees Corps’);
• a Central Adoption Service for Children, to give away to families in the US children of parents killed or locked up for trying to resist US ‘transition’.
Meanwhile, behind the constant threat of military aggression, the US administration is channelling millions of dollars to its mercenary ‘dissident’ groups in Cuba and stepping up its propaganda machine and illegal anti-Cuba radio and TV broadcasts.
The US, Roque pointed out, has no moral authority to criticise Cuba:
‘We have all seen the horrendous images of Abu Ghraib [and] Guantanamo...we have seen the footage of the horror of Hurricane Katrina, when human beings were condemned to die just because they were black and poor. After everything that we already know, this Assembly cannot be deceived nor manipulated.’
Roque laid bare the hypocrisy and brutality of US imperialism before the world; the UN vote is not just for Cuba but for all the oppressed nations that stood up in New York to be counted.
Cat Alison

FRFI 194 December 2006 / January 2007


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