Cuba’s Foreign Minister Overwhelms the Press with Complaints and Dubious Figures About the ‘Blockade’

For this occasion, the Ministry has designed a logo that reads “Better without blockade.” (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 20 October 2022 — Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, accused the Biden administration on Wednesday of having reached a record for damage to the Cuban economy with the embargo. The minister met with the international press to make the traditional assessment by the authorities before the resolution condemning the US economic policy on the Island is presented to the United Nations General Assembly, which this year will be held on November 2 and 3.

According to the updated report, between August 2021 and February 2022, the losses caused by the embargo amount to $3.8 billion, “a historic sum for a reduced period,” the chancellor said. The figure, calculated by an unknown methodology, is $6.4 billion in the 14 months of the current Democratic mandate, another historic record according to Rodríguez, which accounts for $454 million per month and $15 million per day.

Following the deluge of figures, the Cuban chancellor set the total in sixty years at $154.2 billion, which, translated into the value of gold, would be $139 trillion. “Imagine what Cuba could have done for its people by having those resources,” he complained.

Rodríguez Parrilla, aware that he didn’t count anything other than the last 60 years, added some drama in the language. “It’s not a new design of the blockade, but it has been surgically better designed, targeting each of the main sources of income for the country, seeking to increase the impact on the daily life of our population.”

After presenting the panorama in figures, the chancellor began to concretize it by presenting a reality: Cuba buys in the US market, and this is demonstrated by the data month after month, which confirm that the neighboring country is a supplier of a multitude of basic necessities. “It’s true that Cuba can buy food in other markets, and it’s true that it even acquires food in the US. But the blockade deprives Cuba of the indispensable financial resources* to make those purchases in the US or to make similar purchases in third markets,” he said.

Since the data, promptly disseminated, corroborate the massive purchases of the Island from the US, Rodríguez Parrilla has insisted on that point, which has become his fundamental argument. Thus, this Wednesday he repeated that Washington applies measures against financial institutions that prevent Cuba from functioning normally.

“Dozens and dozens of banks deny services to Cuba in fear of US fines. Others are forced to reach agreements by the illegal, extraterritorial actions of the US Government, to avoid those fines,” said the chancellor, who added that producers, carriers, shipping companies and insurers are prosecuted, among others, making the purchase of fuel more expensive by a third or half.

“Between January 2021 and February 2022, new data revealed a total of 642 direct actions reported by foreign banks that, in the face of threat by the US financial system, refused to provide services to the country,” reproached the chancellor, who accused the US of discriminating against Cuban citizens, who cannot have personal accounts in some countries, and of causing embassies to go without banking services.

The minister moved on to the central issue of Cuban reality at the moment: the National Electricity System, whose situation he described as “extremely serious.” Although he attributed this reality to a multitude of factors, including lack of fuel, he explained that the impossibility of using American technology has a decisive influence. The blackouts, he said, are “emergency measures” that “our people understand and support,” he said, without even mentioning the daily discomfort caused by power outages, which has been taking citizens out of their homes for weeks to demand the return of power.

“Cuba cannot acquire, anywhere, in any way, technologies, equipment, parts, digital technologies or software that contains 10% of US components, which is a direct impact, as serious as that of the lack of foreign exchange to guarantee supplies,” he argued.

Rodríguez Parrilla insisted that the “blockade” is undeniable — “nobody can seriously or soundly affirm that it doesn’t exist or is a mere pretext” — and is aimed at “provoking the inability of the country to meet the fundamental needs of the population,” and, thus, he considers the attitude of the US to be immoral.

There was no longer the slightest hint of self-criticism, nor of modesty. The chancellor praised the work of the Cuban government in the midst of so much derision and celebrated how the country overcomes each difficulty only to be harmed again. Among those examples were medications, which the country produces 60% of itself, but which are again affected by the lack of funding.

He also cited the vaccines against covid-19, whose endorsement in the World Health Organization remains on hold more than six months after documentation; respirators and oxygen have been submitted, all of them self-produced alone or with the help of partner countries in the face of the “deliberately cruel act” of the US of not “flexibilizing sanctions” in the worst of the pandemic. However, Rodríguez Parilla forgot that humanitarian aid arrived from the US not only at that time, but just one day earlier, when he himself thanked Washington for its contribution to repairing the damage of Hurricane Ian.

“We appreciate the US humanitarian aid offer. The material contribution valued at 2 million dollars through the International Red Cross Federation will contribute to our recovery efforts and support those affected by the ravages of Hurricane Ian,” he said on Twitter.

The chancellor vindicated the changes made by the regime — from its small economic measures to the “diversification of its productive matrix,” and the legislative modifications, although he cited only the Family Code, knowing that the Criminal Code wouldn’t be a very appreciated example — and praised its commitment to modernity. “Cuba changes every day and will continue to change. Cuba is renewed all the time. What doesn’t change, what isn’t renewed, what is anchored in the past, is the policy of the blockade,” he said.

Finally, Rodríguez warmed up to the next presentation of the resolution against the embargo, recalling that historically only two countries vote against it, the US and Israel. “It is universal to repudiate a criminal policy that has neither defeated nor achieved the objectives it set, although it causes a lot of human damage,” he said. And he ended with a plea that sounded like an eternal lament. “Cuba has the right to live without a blockade; it has the right to live in peace. Cuba would be better off without a blockade. Everyone would be better off without a blockade. The US would be a better country without the blockade of Cuba. The world would be better without the blockade of Cuba.”

*Translator’s note: The “financial resources” in this case is the ability to buy on credit, that is without paying anything up front, or potentially ever, as Cuba is known for not paying its debts.

Translated by Regina Anavy


COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORKThe 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.