Cuban Representative at UN Rebuts U.S. Falsehoods
After the November 3, 2022, UN vote overwhelmingly favoring the resolution introduced by Cuba on ending the U.S. blockade (see also UN speech by Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez), U.S. representative John Kelley took the floor to defend his government’s position.
Alleging Washington’s commitment to the well-being of the Cuban people, Kelley tried to justify U.S. policy by charging Cuba with human rights violations, pointing to supposed U.S. aid to the Cuban people, and claiming the U.S. Agency for International Development was poised to send “$2 million in funding for emergency relief to those in need in Cuba.”
In a 10-minute rebuttal on the floor of the UN General Assembly, Yuri Gala López, Cuba’s alternate permanent representative to the United Nations, rejected Kelley’s allegations.
Gala’s rebuttal follows. Translation, subheadings, and footnotes are by World-Outlook.
By Yuri Gala López
Mr. President, the false allegations of the U.S. delegation should not be allowed to distort this agenda point, when this Assembly has overwhelmingly sent an unequivocal message regarding the urgent need to end the blockade against Cuba.
In his statement, the representative of the U.S. government claimed concern about the plight of the Cuban people. Then how can his government justify the fact that it used the COVID-19 pandemic to reinforce its inhumane blockade against Cuba and to deny us access to treatments, the purchase of raw materials needed to produce our own vaccines, pulmonary ventilators, and even the acquisition of medicinal oxygen?
The United States claims to advocate individual freedoms in Cuba, yet it has not reversed the very restrictions that directly harm Cuban entrepreneurs in fields such as software development, hospitality, and services. If the U.S. government were really interested in the well-being, human rights, and self-determination of the Cuban people, it could lift the blockade and join our efforts on international cooperation.
Dirty campaign of lies
Mr. President, Cuba has been and continues to be the target of a dirty campaign directed by the U.S. government and U.S. politicians. Lying has been one of its fundamental aspects.
It is false to say that those who peacefully protested on July 11, 2021, were detained, prosecuted, or repressed. The legal rights of those who committed crimes during those protests were fully respected and their prosecution was clean and transparent. No one was prosecuted for expressing an opinion.
It is unacceptable for [the United States] to point a finger at us for upholding our constitutional rule precisely when more than 800 people were detained in this country because of the events of January 6, 2021 [at the U.S. Congress].
Is the United States the only country in the world with the right to defend its constitutional rule? Like any other country, we will not allow our laws to be broken nor any attempt to subvert — in service of a foreign agenda of regime change — the constitutional order and political system that we Cubans have freely chosen. We will continue to strengthen our legal institutions to promote and protect human rights, including the right of association. At the same time, we will continue to ensure the strict enforcement and respect for our laws.
Desperate to justify its hostility towards Cuba, the United States is misrepresenting the issue of arrests, focusing on minors. Cuban authorities have provided enough information to corroborate the respect for due process in our country; they have made it clear that Cuba does not hold criminally liable — under any circumstances — minors under 16 years of age. The only arbitrary arrests and long-term imprisonments on Cuban territory are those carried out by the U.S. government at the naval base at Guantánamo.
Mr. President, the representative of a country whose electoral campaigns have no ethical restraints — promoting hate, division, egoism, slander, racism, xenophobia, and lies, and in which money and corporate interests decide who is elected and who is not, has no business speaking about elections and democracy.
Cuba does not need lessons on democracy or human rights
Cuba does not need lessons on democracy or human rights, much less coming from the United States. We will not accept this kind of posture, particularly when it is used to justify the most prolonged and broad-based system of coercive and unilateral measures ever imposed on any country.
The U.S. government should focus on its own population under the poverty threshold and its repressive policies regarding immigrants, minorities, and reproductive rights; it should focus on its own racism, discrimination against people of African descent, and lack of gender equality. It should focus on police brutality — the more than 1,000 deaths per year from police shootings, the secret jails, extrajudicial executions, and the use of torture.
Allow me to cite very concretely just two examples of this aforementioned list, Mr. President. The United States is the only country that is not party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is the only country in which minors under 18 years of age are sentenced to life without parole. In 2021 alone, between 600,000 and 700,000 arrests of minors occurred in this country, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.
The uncontrolled institutional discrimination and police brutality against people of African descent, Latinos, immigrants, refugees, and minorities have reached alarming levels in the United States. People of African descent represent only 13% of the U.S. population, but they account for 36% of its total prison population. In 2021, the police in the United States murdered a total of 266 people of African descent.
If the United States really wants to show interest in the well-being of the Cuban people, it should — unconditionally and once and for all — lift the economic, commercial, and financial blockade against Cuba.
U.S. interference in Cuban affairs
Instead of promoting cooperation and cordial relations with Cuba, the United States is seeking confrontation and is overtly sponsoring a campaign for political change in Cuba. In its 2022 budget proposal, the Biden administration has asked Congress for $20 million for designated programs aimed at promoting “democracy” in Cuba, and almost $13 million for illegal broadcasts of the misnamed Radio and TV Martí. This is conduct contrary to the hypersensitivity of that country to any attempt, or suspected attempt, at interference in its domestic affairs. It is nevertheless conduct aimed at fomenting political opposition in Cuba and undermining our constitutional order.
Mr. President, the U.S. delegation is lying when it claims extremely high figures for exports and humanitarian aid to our country. It is cynically citing multi-million dollar amounts from funds that the U.S. Agency for International Development uses to support subversion in Cuba, as well as the remittances that Cuban émigrés send to their families — with a great deal of effort, and the modest donations from non-governmental organizations — made despite great obstacles.
There is irrefutable proof that the blockade has hampered the main channels of aid to our country, including from third countries, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the passage of the hurricane, the U.S. government should have the humanitarian duty…
Mr. President, I conclude my statement in the exercise of the right of rebuttal by reiterating a point Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel made just a few days ago, and I quote: “We have firmly and creatively faced the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the United States, which was opportunistically tightened just as we were confronting the pandemic.
“The Cuban people did not give in either to the subversive media campaigns...
“No obstacle will be great enough to erode our determination to resist, to fight, and to win!”
Thank you very much.
 On July 11-12, 2021, demonstrations took place in several Cuban cities to protest the scarcity of food and other goods. At that time, Cuba faced serious economic challenges — including blackouts and shortages of food, fuel, and medicines — posed by a recent spike of the Covid-19 pandemic and asphyxiating sanctions by the U.S. government. For more information on those protests and how the Cuban government responded to them, see “Cuban President Calls for Solidarity, Respect, Social Responsibility.”
 The U.S. government occupies 45 square miles of Cuban territory on the shore of Guantánamo Bay in southeastern Cuba, where it operates a military base since 1903. Washington claims it has leased the territory for its naval base in perpetuity. Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the Cuban government has protested the U.S. presence on Cuban soil, explaining that the base was imposed on Cuba by force and is illegal under international law. Since 2002, Washington has established a military prison in the naval base, where it holds prisoners of war captured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. The facility is notorious for torture of prisoners by the U.S. military and denial of their rights under the Geneva convention.
 The United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 1989. Every member of the United Nations except the United States — 196 countries — has signed the convention.
 Having reached the time limit under UN General Assembly rules, Gala López was required to cut short and conclude his remarks.
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity