During the closure of the National Assembly’s fourth period of ordinary sessions, December 21, President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez said: “In the 61st year of the Revolution they threw us to our deaths and here we are, alive. Without a doubt, 2019 was a year of great challenges, with an escalated imperialist offensive meant to provoke the economic collapse of the nation.
It was the year in which, in the month of April, with the mandate to re-impose the Monroe Doctrine in our hemisphere, then White House National Security Advisor John Bolton openly declared his determination to accomplish what the mercenary invasion at Playa Girón could not achieve in 1961, when U.S. imperialism was crushed by the Cuban people in a resounding victory, within less than 72 hours.
The U.S. has always considered Cuba its possession. Powerful sectors and interest groups have shown, over two hundred years, a stubborn inability to accept the independence of our country, or the right of Cubans to sovereignty, self-determination, and the freedom to decide our own destiny. Current generations of Cubans have faced the hostility of the United States government and the hardships imposed by the economic blockade, throughout their entire lives, or at least most of their existence.
The blockade has been the most persistent weapon and the central axis of hostility toward Cuba since the revolutionary victory of 1959. Its objectives were defined early on, with clear genocidal objectives, as reflected in the infamous memorandum of April 6, 1960 by the Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs of the State Department, Lester D. Mallory, which stated:
“The majority of Cubans support Castro…The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”
It is an act of economic warfare that, over six decades, has had an increasingly significant impact on all spheres of society – further intensified in 2019 – with an extraterritorial impact in virtually every corner of the planet.
The United States government is lying when it repeatedly states that coercive economic measures are aimed at depriving the government and armed forces of resources. Their objective is to hurt the Cuban people, with the intention of breaking the political and patriotic will of the entire nation, in order to reverse the revolutionary process and undermine the foundations of the society we have built.
The blockade is an act of genocide against our people, according to Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defined in paragraph B, as “serious injury to the physical or mental integrity of the members of a group,” and C, “intentional subjection of the group to conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction as a whole or in part.”
The blockade creates scarcity, material shortages, the interruption of public services, in an effort to sow discouragement and dissatisfaction, while attempting to portray the Revolution as responsible and discredit its leadership. The United States has the audacity to present the government of the attacked people as inefficient in the management of resources, and to blame for modest growth of the economy.
It is important to reiterate that the economic blockade is the main obstacle to the Cuban economy’s development, and to the full enjoyment of human rights by the Cuban people. There is not a single Cuban family or sector that has not been a victim of its effects.
A review of the most notable facts regarding this aggression is useful.
The damages accumulated over six decades amount to 138,843,000,000 dollars, and the latest calculations show that, from April of 2018 through March 2019, the blockade caused losses on the order of four billion dollars, that is an average of 12 million dollars a day.
If the cost of the blockade could be transformed into available resources, the country could have an important source of financing to undertake economic, social and productive programs and policies with greater dynamism, and to achieve higher and more sustained rates of growth in the Gross Domestic Product, and greater well-being for our people.
In 2019 alone, the U.S. government adopted 85 aggressive measures of various kinds to damage Cuba, 43 of which were coercive economic measures to extend and strengthen the blockade, some unprecedented, and all with the express objective of increasing pressure on our country to extract political concessions.
In the area of foreign trade, the greatest impact is seen in lost export revenues that would exceed $2.34 billion in one year.
Products of recognized exportable quality and proven demand cannot be marketed in the U.S. Such is the case for cigars, and Heberprot-P, a unique medicine for diabetic patients, with proven effectiveness in tissue regeneration, thus reducing the need for amputations and consequent disability.
The United States prohibits export to Cuba – from any country in the world – of any product containing 10% or more components of U.S. origin, that is, raw materials, parts, technology, software or intellectual property, regardless of the country where the good or service is produced, or the nationality of the producer. Thus, an additional, significant limitation is imposed on Cuba’s ability to acquire goods and services from any country in the world.
This extraterritorial measure affects the availability of consumer goods, machinery and technology required for production, raw materials needed by industry and the services on which the well-being of the population depends, with an impact on such sensitive sectors as health, medicine, transportation and food.
As a result of the tightening of the financial blockade, there has been a sharp decline in the country’s ability to access external financing that would make possible the acquisition of inputs and raw materials needed by the economy.
The hostile measures reduce the country’s capacity to meet financial commitments, which in turn undermines willingness to provide new resources required for the functioning of the economy.
The combination of these constraints on trade and financing causes, for example, serious damage to the health sector, given limitations on the acquisition of medical equipment, reagents and drugs, among other goods. The prohibition imposed on U.S. companies, and their subsidiaries in other countries, preventing them from supplying inputs to Cuba, deny our people technologies that make the difference between life and death.
Cubans who suffers from severe heart failure, for example, cannot benefit from ventricular support equipment that can maintain bodily functions until a transplant can be performed.
It is impossible to access novel drugs for the treatment of cancer that are only produced by U.S. pharmaceutical companies.
Current shortages of some medications in the country are the result of the blockade’s impact on access to financing and suppliers that produce raw materials.
Similarly, limitations on the acquisition of spare parts, raw materials and other important inputs prevent improvements in the technical availability of production, industrial and transport equipment, hindering or halting progress on high-impact social programs, such as housing construction.
Also affected is the communications and information technology sector, including telecommunications. The blockade is the main impediment to the flow of information and to greater access to the Internet, inasmuch as its regulations make connectivity more difficult and expensive, and place conditions on access to platforms and technologies.
In the tourism sector, additional restrictions are imposed on the already limited possibilities for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. The abrupt suspension of cruise ship travel, and the arbitrary interruptions of regular and charter flights to several Cuban cities, caused a significant decrease in the number of travelers arriving from the United States in 2019, and will do so this year.
In addition to erecting obstacles to the development of mutual understanding and natural exchanges between the peoples of the two countries, and limiting contact and communication of Cubans with their families and relatives in the United States, the measures are meant to restrict income in the hospitality industry, with direct damage to both state and non-state sectors of the economy.