STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. FELIPE PÉREZ ROQUE, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
 OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA, ON AGENDA ITEM 29 "NECESSITY OF ENDING THE
 ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND COMMERCIAL EMBARGO IMPOSED BY THE UNITED
                    STATES OF AMERICA AGAINST CUBA"
 
                          New York, 4 November 2003

Mr. President: Excellencies:

The economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States of
America against Cuba must be lifted. The blockade against Cuba qualifies, in conformity with the 1948 Geneva Convention, as a
crime of genocide. The blockade is a legal aberration. It violates the United Nations Charter. It prevents
international trade and curtails free navigation. It gets to the point of penalizing the
businesspeople from other countries who invest in Cuba. The vulgar and disrespectful tone used in this hall just minutes ago by the representative of
the United States obliges me to depart from my prepared text. I fully understand the
murmuring that followed his rude comments. I believe that such a lowly and disrespectful attack can only be the result of the desperation
and isolation of the U.S. government in its policy towards Cuba. The representative of the United States has resorted here to insults and personal attacks.
But Cuba will not follow this example. We do not need to make up for a lack of arguments
with offensive language and empty insults. I can assure this Assembly that the
representative of the United States has lied, and I am going to prove it. I have a duty to
denounce these lies, because this Assembly has the right to know the truth; it deserves
respect, and it deserves for the representatives of the world's countries gathered in this
room to behave with a minimum of respect and decorum. I have counted 15 lies or insulting attacks, which I will briefly comment on later, but which I
cannot fail to refute right now.  First of all, the representative of the United States has said that the blockade against Cuba
is justified on the basis of what he called "Cuba's regrettable human rights record." Lies!
The United States has no moral authority or right to judge the human rights situation in
Cuba; it should attend to its own human rights situation, it should deal with the horrendous
human rights violations that take place in its own territory, and the ones it provokes outside
its borders. Second, he has said that the blockade against Cuba is a bilateral affair. Lies! The blockade
obstructs business with and investment in Cuba around the entire planet, through the
application of the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts, as I will discuss later in my speech. Third, he has said that the blockade was established after the expropriations. Lies! The
measures of the economic blockade and other forms of economic war against Cuba date
back to before the nationalizations that were justly undertaken by the Cuban Revolution. Fourth, he has said that Cuba did not offer compensation. Lies! The Cuban nationalization
laws established compensation, and in fact, this compensation was accepted by all foreign
owners in Cuba, including Europeans, Canadians and Latin Americans, everyone except
for citizens of the United States, whose government prohibited them from accepting
compensation.

Fifth, he has said that the blockade is aimed at bringing freedom and democracy to Cuba.
Lies! The blockade is aimed at turning Cuba back into a colony of the United States.

He has also said that last year, 175,000 U.S. citizens traveled legally to Cuba. Lies! A large
number of them had to violate the laws of the United States itself to come here. Moreover,
if the U.S. government is not afraid of them coming here, then why doesn't it allow them to
travel? Why are there more than 2000 U.S. citizens currently facing legal proceedings for
this very reason?

He has said that Cuba does not pay its debts. Lies!

He has said that the poverty of the Cuban people is not a result of the blockade, that the
blockade is not an obstacle. He has lied.

On the other hand, it is true that we are a poor Third World country, but there is not a single
Cuban citizen who lacks for medical care, unlike the United States, where there are 44
million people who have no right to health care services.

He has said that "brutal repression" was imposed in Cuba. Lies! Punishment was handed
down, in accordance with Cuban laws, to mercenaries who received money from the United
States and worked to provide a justification for the blockade and promote subversion in
Cuba.

He has referred to the President of Cuba, Comandante Fidel Castro, as a dictator. This
Assembly knows very well that the government of the United States and President Bush
are attempting to impose a fascist dictatorship on a global scale.

Finally, he has referred to the Cuban government as an "evil and dictatorial regime," to
which they would like to say, "Hasta la vista, baby!" Never have such disrespectful words
been heard in this Assembly!

Cuba accepts that there may be differences of opinion, different viewpoints, different
ideologies; but it believes that there must be a minimum of respect towards the delegates
and the countries represented here.

I am sorry to say that the representative of the United States will never in his entire lifetime
have the slightest possibility of saying "Hasta la vista, baby," to the people of Cuba. It is the
people of Cuba, with the support of the international community, who will say, "Hasta la
vista, blockade; hasta la vista, genocide." And in response to his disrespectful comments,
we say right here that we will not be saying "Hasta la vista" to our leader, our President, but
rather, "Patria o muerte! Venceremos!"

I will now return to my speech, in order to say:

The blockade is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the human rights of the
Cuban people. The only human rights abuses committed in Cuba are the ones provoked
against our people by the blockade and the ones committed by the United States at the
Naval Base in Guantánamo, which it occupies against our will. It is also deleterious to the
rights of the American people, the rights of the Cubans who live in the United States and
the rights of those nationals from other countries who wish to trade with and invest freely in
Cuba.

 I am not saying a single word here against the people of the United States; we consider
them our friends, and we do not blame them. We believe that the people of the United
States are also victims, like us, of their government's cruel and senseless policy. I do not
blame the people, I blame their government, which subordinates its policy towards Cuba to
the corrupt interests of a minority of Cuban-born mobsters living in the city of Miami.

The blockade is the greatest obstacle to Cuba's socio-economic development. And I
reaffirm this here, refuting the claims made by the representative of the United States. It
has caused losses to our country in the order of over US$ 72 billion, no less that 1.6 billion
dollars a year, in addition to the aggressions, the invasions, and over 600 assassination
plots against our Head of State. How many shortages and hardships would we have been
spared without the blockade? How much farther would Cuba have gone in its noble
endeavor of equality and social justice had it not had to deal with this ruthless and
relentless blockade for more than four decades?

If the government of the United States is so certain that the Cuban government and
authorities, the historic leadership of the Cuban Revolution, do not have the support of the
people, then why don't they lift the blockade? If they say that we are using it as a pretext,
then why don't they take this pretext away? Why don't they lift the blockade? Why don't they
allow U.S. citizens to visit Cuba?

The blockade is a cruel and absurd policy, that finds no support within or outside the United
States. Last year, 173 member States voted against the blockade at this General
Assembly. They understand that the crime being committed against Cuba today could very
well be committed against any other country tomorrow.

It is false - I say this here -- to think that the Cubans who live in the United States support
the blockade. Only a corrupt and greedy minority, that has not hesitated to organize and
execute terrorist actions against our people, is interested in its perpetuity. They dream of
Cuba's return to the hands of US troops; they dream of revenge and pillage. President
Bush - and the truth must be told in this room -- is hostage to the spurious interests of that
Cuban-American minority living in Miami. He owes them the Presidency, controversially
reached back in 2000 by the close margin of a vote at this country's Supreme Court of
Justice.

The President of Cuba was reelected in our National Assembly, made up of
representatives elected by direct and secret ballot, throughout the entire country, in
elections where more than 95% of the population participated. The President of the United
States was declared president by the Supreme Court, in the midst of an international
scandal that left the country leaderless for over a month.

However, a growing mass - increasingly less silent and more active - objects to this policy,
that curtails normal relations with their families and with Cuba.

The United States must recognize that the blockade is unjustifiable from the moral and
ethical standpoints. It must recognize that it is a failure, that it causes its own isolation. We
as Cubans, far from surrendering, are more steadfast and independent; far from dividing,
we have come together; far from feeling discouraged, we have found new strengths to
defend our sovereignty and our right to freedom.

Mr. President:

 The United States must repeal the Helms-Burton Act. It has no right to impose its laws on
the rest of the world. It has no right to tell the Cubans how their own country should be
organized. It has no right to finance and organize subversion in Cuba. It has no right to
sanction the businesspeople from other countries for having relations with Cuba.

 The United States must repeal the Torricelli Act. It has no right to prevent the vessels from
other countries from calling on Cuban ports. It has no right to prohibit the subsidiaries of US
companies based in third countries from trading with Cuba, in violation of the laws of those
countries in which they are headquartered.

The United States must allow Cuba to export to its territory. It is not entitled to close off the
exports of sugar, nickel, tobacco, seafood, vaccines and biotech items, computer software
and other Cuban productions.

The United States must allow Cuba to import freely from its territory. And not only
foodstuffs, but everything else, with the exception of weapons - in which we are not
interested. It must eliminate the ludicrous restrictions that currently hinder and limit to a
large extent the sales of farm produce to Cuba.

The United States must allow its citizens to travel freely to Cuba. Why is the Administration
chasing after them? Is it by any chance afraid that they may become acquainted with the
truth? Is it not ridiculous to go after a grandmother who is going to Cuba to ride on her
bicycle? Why did the representative of the United States not refer here to the case of Mrs.
Joan Slote, a 74-year-old woman fined $8500 for traveling to Cuba? What is really
democratic: to respect the clear and majority-based vote of both the House and the Senate
or defend - with stubbornness and shortsightedness - vulgar electoral interests?

The United States must cease preventing the free exchange of ideas. It must cease
hindering the visits by Cuban scientists, athletes and artists to this country. It must allow
Cuba to acquire top-of-the-line equipment and technology for Internet access.

The United States must allow Cuba to use the dollar for its external commercial
transactions. With what right does it seize today Cuba's payments to companies or
governments from third countries?

The United States must eliminate the absurd prohibition that prevents the import into its
territory of products manufactured in third countries if these contain Cuban raw materials.

The United States must allow the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to
grant credits to Cuba. On this hemisphere, these credits were on many occasions stolen by
corrupt Presidents and later on deposited with American banks. That has not happened
and will never happen in the case of Cuba!

The United States must authorize its banks to make loans to Cuba and allow its enterprises
to trade with and invest freely in our country. Are not these private banks and enterprises?

The United States must prevent Bacardi company from stealing the Havana Club rum brand
name. Its Government should not be interested - and I want to state this clearly here -- in a
conflict of trademarks and patents with Cuba.

The United States must return the frozen assets to Cuba and prevent the Cuban money
frozen in U.S. banks from being stolen by traffickers in influence and greedy petty lawyers
from Miami.

The United States must return to Cuba the territory currently occupied, against our will, by
the Guantánamo Naval Base.

 The United States must repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act and accept our proposal to
engage in extensive cooperation to eliminate alien smuggling.

The United States must release the five young Cubans who are unjustly imprisoned and
persecute the terrorists who roam the streets of Miami.

In brief, the United States must cease its aggression against Cuba. It must recognize
Cuba's right to its self-determination. It must allow the Cubans to live in peace. It must
recognize that since 1 January 1959 - 45 years soon - Cuba is a free and independent
country.

Mr. President:

President Bush said a few days ago that "Cuba is not going to change by its own choice."
He is mistaken. Cuba changes every day. There is no more profound and permanent
change than a Revolution. It will change, yes, but increasingly towards more Revolution and
Socialism. Towards more equality, more justice, more freedom and more solidarity. And so
it will be even with President Bush's objection, because as expressed 123 years ago by
the Apostle of our Independence, José Martí: "Before relinquishing the endeavor of
making the Homeland free and prosperous, the Southern Sea will blend into the Northern
Sea and a snake will be born out of an eagle's egg!"

The President of the United States has also said: "But Cuba must change." And I want to
call attention to that statement, because if that statement embodies a threat of new actions
against my country, as Cubans have understood it, the President of the United States
should recall that he is the tenth to do so in these four decades of blockade and
aggressions that Cuba has managed to overcome.

He should also know that his current difficulties merely pale against those that he would
have if he messes with Cuba. He should know that there is no human or natural force
capable of causing the Cubans to relinquish their dreams of justice and freedom.

Our being noble should not be mistaken with being weak. Our absence of hatred should not
be mistaken with fear. Our willingness to engage in dialogue should not be mistaken with
the illusion of surrendering a people that has not been defeated. There should be no
mistake in believing that Cuba can ever be dominated. It would be very costly for the
aggressor.

Finally, I ask you, Excellencies, on behalf of the generous and courageous people that
there in my Homeland is closely following what you will all decide today, to vote in favor of
draft resolution A/58/L.4 entitled "Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and
Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba."

I apologize for the disrespectful and hate-filled words spoken here by my adversary, and
reiterate to you the respect and gratitude of my people.

I am asking you to vote in favor of Cuba's right - which is also today everyone's right.

Thank you very much.

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