US embargo against Cuba of great concern to CARICOM

Janine Coye-Felson

CARICOM Member States continue to reiterate their unequivocal opposition to the United States' imposition of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba – an embargo which, for the past 19 consecutive years, the overwhelming majority of the international community has consistently opposed. The representative of Belize Ambassador Janine Coye-Felson told the UN General Assembly that the unilateral imposition of extraterritorial laws on third States is contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the United Nations Charter. And she added that the embargo itself runs counter to the principles that the United Nations and all Member States have traditionally championed – the principles of multilateralism, international law, sovereignty, and free trade.

Janine Coye-Felson: The stubborn persistence of the embargo is apparently impervious to the sustained chorus of international criticism; and, to the logic of a world that has changed immeasurably over the five decades since the imposition of the blockade. The embargo has now outlived the Cold War by 20 years. It has outlasted the terms of eight presidents of the United States of America and even that of Cuban President Fidel Castro. Over 70 per cent of Cubans alive today were born under the embargo. CARICOM considers the embargo an anachronism that has succeeded only in contributing to the suffering of generations of ordinary Cubans, and in unnecessarily increasing tensions between the United States and Cuba. It serves no justifiable legal, political or moral purpose in the 21st Century. The punitive embargo is of particular concern to CARICOM, which shares a history, culture, solidarity and kinship with the people of Cuba. Cuba is the most populous State of the Caribbean region, and an integral part of the Pan-Caribbean process. Caribbean ties with Cuba have historical significance, cemented by years of active cooperation at various levels.

Ambassador Coye-Felson said CARICOM Member States continue to maintain close relations with Cuba through a wide range of programmes of cooperation in areas including trade, health care, infrastructure, and human resource development. She noted that in many ways, future regional development is reliant upon their collective advancement and progress. It was in that context, she said that the embargo was not just a punitive act against Cuba, but an impediment to shared regional development in the wider Caribbean.

Janine Coye-Felson: There is probably no single issue upon which the United Nations has made such sustained, strong and unambiguous pronouncements as with the resolutions condemning the embargo against Cuba. Yet the embargo continues, in the face of such overwhelming international reproach. The continued disregard of these resolutions constitutes a blot on the credibility and efficacy of the United Nations. CARICOM Member States thus reiterate the view that additional mechanisms could be explored to operationalise the words of this resolution, and facilitate a process that will end this continued indifference to the will of the international community. 

According to Ambassador Coye-Felson, the significance of the embargo on the Cuban economy continues to be of great concern to CARICOM, and the humanitarian impact on the people of Cuba, especially in the area of health care and food, is especially saddening. 

Janine Coye-Felson: The inability of Cuba to acquire necessary medical equipment, spare parts, and latest generation medications, because of the embargo, continues to affect the health care system, where treatment remains free of charge to the Cuban people. With the strengthening and more frequent storms and hurricanes wrought by climate change, and Cuba's geographic susceptibility to these natural disasters, the humanitarian impact of the embargo becomes even more acute. Additionally, construction materials and heavy equipment are becoming increasingly inaccessible to Cuba, because of stringent rules of origin and restrictions against corporations based outside of the United States. The negative effects on the Cuban economy and its growth are tangible. The embargo has now cost Cuba over $100 billion since its 1962 imposition. In the wake of the ongoing global economic meltdown, the unilateral measures against the Cuban people are now even more harsh and indefensible.

Ambassador Coye-Felson of Belize said it was remarkable that, even as Cuba struggles with a recent unfortunate string of natural disasters and the continuing impacts of the global economic crisis, it continues to assist other nations in the developing world, starting with its immediate Caribbean neighbours.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’35″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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