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October 10, 2013 - No. 113

Lift the U.S. Blockade of Cuba! End U.S. Impunity!

UN General Assembly Prepares to Vote to End U.S. Blockade of Cuba

Lift the U.S. Blockade of Cuba! End U.S. Impunity!
UN General Assembly Prepares to Vote to End U.S. Blockade of Cuba
Cuba Remembers Victims of Terrorism on 37th Anniversary of Bombing of Cuban Airliner over Barbados
Federation of Cuban Women Delegation Receives Warm Welcome in Toronto

Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America Against Cuba - Report by Cuba on UN General Assembly Resolution 67-4 July 2013

Lift the U.S. Blockade of Cuba! End U.S. Impunity!

UN General Assembly Prepares to Vote to
End U.S. Blockade of Cuba

On October 29, the UN General Assembly will vote on a resolution calling on the U.S. to end its criminal blockade against Cuba, in place for 51 years. This year's vote will mark the 22nd such resolution that has been brought before the General Assembly.

For 21 consecutive years the resolution has passed with an increasing majority. Last year, the U.S. was only able to cobble together a pittance of support for its unjust position from its client state Israel and its Micronesian protectorate Palau, while 188 countries voted that the blockade be ended. The fact that the U.S. has been able to continue its sanctions -- which not only violate Cuba's sovereignty but that of nations that trade with Cuba -- despite this overwhelming international opposition, underscores the need to reform the UN so that the will of the General Assembly can be enforced.

Opposition to the blockade was one of the most mentioned topics during the General Debate at the General Assembly from September 24 to October 1, Prensa Latina reports. Presidents, prime ministers, and foreign ministers from 47 countries and all five continents urged an end to the blockade. Bolivian President Evo Morales said the blockade against Cuba is the "worst genocide," while Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador, Ghana's John Mahama and Trinidad and Tobago's Kamla Persad-Bissessar called it a relic of the past. In turn, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, described it as a kind of "myopic revenge," which has caused millions of dollars in losses and severe social harm, through its impact in sectors such as health and education. For his part, Gambian President Hadji Yahya Jammeh called the measures inhumane, unjust and flagrant, and denounced them as lacking any justification. Many pointed out that the U.S. blockade is a significant obstacle to the country's development, as well as a violation of international law.

Cuba's Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno presents Cuba's report on the effects of the U.S. blockade, Havana, October 7, 2013. (Cuba vs. Bloqueo)

A news conference was held October 7 at the William Soler Children's Heart Center in Havana to present Cuba's annual report on the damage wrought by the blockade. Deputy Cuban Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno said the U.S. blockade has caused astronomical economic harm, to the tune of $1.57 trillion, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against gold. "The blockade not only is being maintained, but strengthened in some aspects," Moreno pointed out. "I ask what right does the United States have to sanction companies that are not North American," he added, explaining that since Obama took office in 2009, fines against blockade violators, domestic and foreign, had dramatically increased and totalled $2.5 billion to date.

Moreno said foreign banks were increasingly cautious about any transactions involving Cuba due to U.S. pressure, something confirmed by numerous foreign businessmen in Havana. "Banks calculate the risk versus the gain in doing business with Cuba, even if transactions are legal," a foreign banker told Reuters.

Business transactions, academic exchanges, the long list of drugs denied to Cuba, the failure to grant visas for sporting events and the damage to foreign trade are some of the blockade's effects that are hurting Cuba, the report presented by Moreno states.

Director of the William Soler Children's Heart Center Eugenio Selman-Housein Sosa, gave concrete experience of the blockade, explaining that the centre often lacks the most modern equipment and medicines because U.S. companies predominate in some sectors and U.S. regulations on checking end-users make business next to impossible. "In the case of Cuba this becomes dramatic," he said, because the sanctions "impede the acquisition of products that literally signify the difference between life and death."

The U.S. blockade, the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five and state-backed terrorism against Cuba are all part of the U.S. hostile and vindictive policy toward Cuba. The imperialist dictate of "Might Makes Right" must not prevail in international relations and the U.S. must be held to account and accede to the overwhelming international will to end its criminal blockade of Cuba.

U.S., Hands Off Cuba!
End the Blockade!
Uphold the Sovereignty of All Nations!

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Cuba Remembers Victims of Terrorism on
37th Anniversary of Bombing of
Cuban Airliner over Barbados

Procession to Colon Cemetery in Havana, October 6, 2013. Banner reads: "We Demand Justice!"

October 6 marked the 37th anniversary of the terrorist attack which destroyed Air Cubana Flight 455 over Barbados in 1976, in which 73 people were killed. Cuba has honoured the memory of those killed on that day and in all the other attacks on its people by U.S.-backed terrorist agents by declaring October 6 as the Day of Victims of State Terrorism. Across the country, flags were flown at half-mast to mark the occasion.

This year, the official event to remember the victims included a procession and ceremony at Colon Cemetery in Havana, where relatives of the more than 3,000 Cubans killed by terrorist actions denounced the criminal war by the U.S. against Cuba. Floral wreaths were sent by the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro and President Raúl Castro. The procession and ceremony were led by Esteban Lazo Hernández, President of the National Assembly of People's Power and Lázara Mercedes López Acea, Vice President of the Councils of State and Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba's Havana Provincial Committee. Also present were Hero of the Republic René González, families of the Cuban Five imprisoned in the U.S., members of the diplomatic corps, sports figures and workers from the Cuban Civil Aeronautics Institute.

Speaking for victims' families, friends, colleagues and the Cuban people, Wilfredo Pérez -- son of the pilot at the helm of Flight 455 -- called for the extradition of Luís Posada Carriles to Venezuela, to be brought to justice for this crime which he has now evaded for 37 years with U.S. assistance, as well as for the release of the Cuban Five, unjustly convicted and imprisoned precisely for opposing terrorism against Cuba.

Granma International writes, "Thirty-seven years later, the pain is still visible in the faces of their mothers and the eyes of their children who grew up without a parent. The pain is felt by all. Fidel said it during the victims' burial, days after the bombing:

"'We cannot say that the pain is shared. The pain is multiplied. Millions of Cubans cry with the loved ones of the victims of this abominable crime. And when a forceful and powerful people cries, injustice trembles!'"

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Federation of Cuban Women Delegation
Receives Warm Welcome in Toronto

On September 21, Cuban-Canadian friendship organizations held an event at the Beit Zatoun Centre to welcome a visiting delegation of the Federation of Cuban Women to Toronto. The Cuban visitors were Arelys Santana Bellos, Second Secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women and Maritzel González Quevedo, International Relations Officer of the federation. The Cuban visitors spent a pleasant afternoon discussing the situation in Cuba and world events with those who attended.

The meeting was organized by the Toronto Forum on Cuba and the Association of Cuban Residents in Toronto "Juan Gualberto Gómez."[1] The Consul-General of Cuba in Toronto, Javier Domokos and Cuban Consul in Toronto Raúl Delgado also attended and helped the people of Toronto welcome the delegation of Cuban women. Well-known Cuba friendship activist, poet and author Professor Keith Ellis served as the interpreter.

After an informative talk by the representatives of the Federation of Cuban women, the floor was opened for discussion. One of the questions concerned the role of women in building Cuba under the conditions of the more than 50-year-long economic blockade imposed on Cuba by U.S. imperialism.

The Cuban women pointed out that they are from the generation born into both the revolution and the blockade. They said that the blockade has been very costly for them but Cuba has nonetheless advanced, especially in the field of health care. They explained that at times to save the life of one child meant having to search world wide to find the necessary medicines even though they were nearby and in plentiful supply in the U.S. The blockade, they said, has meant that the people, and women especially, have to make extra sacrifices to overcome its effects; to be self-sufficient in food and in the development of agriculture. They also said that the global financial crisis of 2008 had seriously affected Cuba as have the increasing world prices for food.

"It is a shame that a country so powerful as United States is trying to deprive us of our revolution. With the help of organizations around the world like here in Toronto we have been able to move along getting the things we need," said Arelys Santana Bellos. "We have universal free health care but when we have children with cancer who need special medication to assist with the effects of chemotherapy, once again we have to go shopping around the world, even though these medications are available nearby."

Left to right: Arelys Santana Bellos, Keith Ellis and
Maritzel Gonzalez-Quevedo.

Two other examples to illustrate the effects of the blockade were given. Eight hours of blockade cost Cuba the equivalent of what they would have to spend to build 40 childcare centres. Three days of the blockade are equivalent to the costs of textbooks and supplies needed to provide a whole education course. The aggression of the U.S. is causing harm to the people of Cuba in many ways, they said.

The Cuban women also talked about the many achievements of Cuba and the Cuban people despite the blockade. They pointed out that Cuba, which is a small country, exports doctors to save lives around the world. Cuba has never attacked any country while the U.S. invades countries in order to take hold of their natural resources, and destroys governments, they pointed out. Meanwhile, the U.S. does not want to participate in peaceful solutions to conflicts, they said, citing its negative role in perpetuating the oppression of the Palestinian people.

Despite the blockade, the Federation of Cuban Women confronts the difficulties and moves ahead with the revolution, they said. A particular difficulty they now face was raised in response to a question about interference of U.S. women in the affairs of Cuba. The U.S., they said, is financing mercenaries like the Women in White (Damas de Blanco) who are determined to undermine the work of the revolution and spread disinformation about Cuba. They explained that all women in Cuba receive free health care and support during pregnancy and other health needs -- even these Women in White mercenaries, despite their accusations that Cuba violates human rights. Cuba defends the rights of all, for education, health care, pensions and other services. As well, women constitute over 60 per cent of the people active in important areas of life such as education, health, civil defence and political and economic administration.

A question was posed on the issues of diversity and equality between men and women. The speakers emphasized that no one is excluded from participating in their organization; they are proud of the work they have done on this front. Cuba has evolved in the past 54 years despite the difficulty of people hanging onto ideas from the old society. The Cuban Constitution, they said, assures the equality of women and men. Equality is enshrined in the laws which are guaranteed by the revolution and by the work of the people, especially women and their participation in the Federation of Cuban Women.

Moreover, they said, the Federation of Cuban Women continues working to empower women at all levels of society. They explained that the question of affirmative action for women in Cuba is the question of involving women at all levels of society in training and decision-making. "Women are not put in positions of leadership without the necessary skills they require," the speakers emphasized.

The Federation of Women in Cuba holds congresses throughout the country; its membership includes the vast majority of Cuban women (85.2 per cent of all eligible women over 14). Up to 80,000 meetings are held every year in communities and at the neighbourhood, municipal, provincial and national levels, where the women are engaged in discussion about the needs of the country and women in society.


1. Juan Gualberto Gómez Ferrer (July 12, 1854-March 5, 1933) was an Afro-Cuban revolutionary leader in the Cuban War of Independence against Spain.

(TML Correspondent. With files from www.cubadiplomatica.cu, www.torontoforumoncuba.com)

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