Cuban Foreign Minister Speaks Out: The Realities Behind the Blockade

In a striking rebuke to the United States' long-standing economic and trade embargo on Cuba, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for its end.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Cuban Foreign Minister Speaks Out: The Realities Behind the Blockade
© Getty Images News/Anna Moneymaker

In a striking rebuke to the United States' long-standing economic and trade embargo on Cuba, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for its end. The international body, with 187 member countries affirming their stance, stood almost unified against the US and Israel—the two nations opposing the resolution—while Ukraine took a neutral stance by abstaining from the vote.

The embargo, a relic of Cold War politics, has been in place since 1960 and continues to be a contentious point in international relations.

The Human Cost of the Embargo

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla addressed the General Assembly, painting a vivid picture of the hardships faced by the Cuban population due to the US sanctions.

"The more than 60-year blockade violates the rights of all Cuban men and women," Parrilla stated, outlining the day-to-day realities of scarcity, inflated prices, and the immense strain on the Cuban government to provide basic necessities for its citizens.

Parrilla emphasized the blockade's impact on the agricultural sector, which lacks essential resources for food production due to restricted access to animal fodder and industrial equipment. He accused the US of breaching international trade rules, even with waivers on food products.

The embargo forces Cuba to resort to intermediaries or less-effective alternatives, inflating costs exponentially—particularly for medical equipment and pharmaceuticals critical to treating serious illnesses. He shared poignant anecdotes of Cuban families battling severe health conditions, questioning how different their lives might be without the embargo that hinders direct access to necessary medications from the US market.

The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted these challenges when Cuba struggled to acquire medical oxygen, necessitating a special license from the US—underscored by Parrilla as a reflection of the policy's inhumane nature.

'Economic Warfare' and International Solidarity

Describing the embargo as "an act of economic warfare, in times of peace," Parrilla condemned the US for subjecting a small nation to such a sustained assault, calling it illegal, cruel, and inhumane.

"Eighty percent of the population has never known life without the crippling US blockade," he said, describing the blockade as an attempt to thwart Cuba's right to progress and to disrupt its constitutional order. The Minister also used this platform to express solidarity with the Palestinian people amidst recent violence, denouncing the actions as "barbaric acts" that must cease.

Furthermore, he criticized the US for pressuring international banks to exclude Cuba, highlighting the far-reaching impact of US hostility on the global financial system. Parrilla detailed the social repercussions of the embargo, noting the separation of Cuban families and the restriction of US citizens' right to travel to Cuba.

He condemned what he described as a disinformation campaign aimed at destabilizing and discrediting Cuba, coupled with a "media crusade" fostering discontent and a misleading narrative of domestic political crisis. In his closing remarks, Parrilla expressed gratitude for the support from over 40 countries during the debate.

Despite the challenges, he vowed that Cuba would "continue to build bridges with the people of the US" and maintain its commitment to defend its "free and sovereign homeland," ensuring the nation's path towards transformation remains unimpeded.

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