The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) demands that the United States government immediately ends the illegal and illegitimate economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba. We also demand that the US removes Cuba from the so-called list of countries that are engaged in state sponsored terrorism.
On Wednesday June 23rd 2021, the United Nations General Assembly will debate the Resolution 74/7 tabled by the Government of Cuba entitled “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba”. Similar Resolutions have been passed annually by the UN General Assembly for more than 25 years. In the last 15 or more years the international community has voted almost unanimously for the US to end the blockade. Only the United States itself, Israel and one or two other countries have opposed the Resolutions. In 2016, the year that the Obama Government began to relax some restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba and re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, the vote was unanimous with the US and Israel abstaining.
Since the Trump regime, however, the United States reversed this position and has instead intensified the blockade by adding more than 200 measures that penalise Cuba. In the very last days of his presidency, Trump also placed Cuba on the US’ unilateral list of so-called countries engaged in state sponsored terrorism. It is to be noted that in the years of the Trump presidency alone, the blockade has cost Cuba tens of billions of dollars. Tourist travel from the US was almost eliminated, cruise ships that had started to visit Cuba were forced to stop, remittances from US based persons was outlawed, access by Cuba to goods and services supplied by other countries was limited or totally stopped as the non-US companies feared being “blacklisted” by the US. Indeed, Trinidad and Tobago also had to suspend the sale of petroleum products to Cuba. All of this created tremendous hardships on the Cuban people.
A number of the actions were taken by the US against Cuba subsequent to the start of the Covid 19 pandemic. The US repeatedly refused to agree to remove some of the elements of the blockade so as to allow Cuba to access vitally needed equipment and medicines to deal with the pandemic. At the same time Cuba lost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic activity. This position by the United States is tantamount to a crime against humanity and must be condemned!
Cuba, on the other hand, demonstrated its humanity in very concrete ways. Cuban medical professionals are working in 40 countries, including Trinidad and Tobago and many others in the Caribbean, providing vital support to the national health care systems in the fight against the Covid pandemic. Such support was crucially needed in even some developed countries, for example Italy. What is amazing is that in spite of the US blockade which made it impossible for Cuba to access certain products and equipment, Cuba has been able to develop not one but five vaccines to combat the Covid 19 virus. Several of these are being evaluated by the WHO for approval worldwide.
In 2016 the then Vice President of the US was Joe Biden. He was therefore an integral part of the Obama administration that began the process of removing some of the elements of the blockade and re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba. Mr. Biden was also the US Vice President when the US abstained on the Resolution at the UN General Assembly on the blockade. Mr. Biden is now the President of the United States and has the opportunity to begin to right the wrongs of the past. He, at a minimum, has a moral responsibility to take a consistent position and have the US abstain in tomorrow’s vote. Mr. Biden can also, by Executive order, remove Cuba from the so-called list of countries engaged in state sponsored terrorism and can end the Trump orders that tightened the blockade. This will return the situation to the Obama era status quo.
Doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, however, requires much more to be done. The Democratic Party controls both the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as being in the White House. This is the moment when the US can end the entire blockade as it is the US Congress that passed the various laws that first created and then intensified the blockade. Only by the total removal of the blockade will the US be compliant with the UN General Assembly Resolution and bring US foreign policy in line with the entire international community. The US can’t lead, as Biden suggests it should, if it refuses to abide by the wishes of the 190 countries in the world which have consistently voted for the ending of the blockade!
The US blockade against Cuba is illegal as it violates international law. It is illegitimate because its object is regime change. It is immoral and against humanity because it has placed a huge burden on the Cuban people – a burden measured not only in many hundreds billions of dollars of lost economic benefits over the 60 years it has been in existence, but in the difficulties it has created in the daily lives of Cubans. The MSJ demands that the blockade be ended now!
The MSJ also applauds the Cuban people for refusing to give up their right to self-determination in the face of this horrendous act of aggression against them. And we thank them for their generosity and acts of solidarity and humanity through their medical assistance, scholarships to our youth and so much more even as they had to endure the blockade.