INTRODUCTION

"NECESSITY OF ENDING THE ECONOMIC, COMMERCIAL AND FINANCIAL BLOCKADE IMPOSED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AGAINST CUBA"

Havana, 8 July 2003

For more than 40 years, the Cuban people have confronted the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States of America, one of the most cruel, inhuman and prolonged policies of hostility endured by any people in the history of human civilization.

From the very moment of the triumph of the Revolution, when the people of Cuba made a reality of the enjoyment of their right to self-determination by destroying the foundations of the neocolonial regime maintained on the island by the United States, the U.S. authorities imposed various economic sanctions against Cuba with the express goal of causing "hunger, despair and the overthrow of government," [1] as stated in an official U.S. State Department document dated April 6, 1960.

Throughout these last 44 years, a total of 10 different U.S. administrations have merely reinforced and expanded the complex system of laws and measures that make up the blockade established by the U.S. government against the people of Cuba.

This policy has inflicted and continues to inflict serious and onerous damages on the Cuban people's material, psychological and spiritual welfare, while seriously hindering its economic, cultural and social development.

It is enough to remember that six in every ten Cubans have been born and have lived their whole lives under the system of sanctions described, which has been further accompanied by military aggression, biological warfare, illegal radio and television broadcasting, terrorist activities, attempts on the lives of the country's leaders, the encouragement of illegal emigration, and other hostile acts promoted, financed, supported or permitted by successive U.S. administrations.

The primary goal of the blockade is quite simply that of effecting the economic and social asphyxiation of the Cuban nation, by depriving it of the basic means of survival. The prohibitions and restrictions imposed on the Cuban people by the blockade are totally lacking in any legal, moral or ethical basis. In accordance with Item C of Article II of the Geneva Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, of 9 December 1948, the blockade imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba qualifies as an act of genocide and therefore a crime under international law.

The current Republican administration of President George W. Bush has stepped up the measures and prohibitions of the blockade against Cuba to unprecedented levels. His actions are fully consistent with the traditional policy of the extreme right in the United States and the most extremist and violent sectors of the Cuban-American émigré community there, intent on undermining the very existence of the Cuban nation. It is worth remembering, in this regard, that the United States' designs on Cuba are nothing new. From the very dawn of the emergence of the American Union, efforts were aimed at the annexation of Cuba, whether through purchase, cession or even armed force. These efforts were grounded in such policies as the Monroe Doctrine or the "ripe apple" theory, and served as a prelude, at that early date, to the interventionism and unilateralism that characterize the United States today. As such, following the U.S. intervention in 1898, the Republic of Cuba that emerged four years later was weighed down by a constitutional amendment which, for all practical purposes, converted Cuba into a colony of its northern neighbor, a situation which persisted until 1959 and the triumph of the Revolution.

By intensifying the blockade, the current U.S. president is in fact returning the decisive "favor" he received from the Cuban-American terrorist mob in Miami, which played a leading role in the fraud that allowed George W. Bush to usurp the presidency in the 2000 elections, as will be recalled. This mob is made up by corrupt politicians who profited from the hunger and blood of the Cuban people up until 1959, notorious torturers and murderers who took the lives of more than 20,000 Cubans, the thieves who depleted the public treasury, and all of the human scum who sustained the Batista dictatorship and the United States' neocolonial power over Cuba, along with their followers and heirs, as well as all those who have promoted, financed and continued to perpetrate the most criminal acts of terrorism against the Cuban people in these last 44 years.

The current U.S. government's attempt to impose its own will upon the world as the only applicable standard, trampling international law and resorting to the indiscriminate and illegal threat and use of force for this purpose, has served to seriously encourage plans for aggression against Cuba, including military aggression.

Knowing perfectly well that they will never succeed in undermining the Cuban people's unshakable support of the Revolution, the Cuban-American terrorist mob in Miami, important figures and militaristic hawks within the reactionary Republican administration governing the United States, and of course the mercenaries paid by both to operate within Cuba, have staked their hopes on the sinister idea of provoking an armed attack on Cuba by the United States.

Those who promote such aggression as a means of bringing an end to the process of revolutionary transformations sovereignly undertaken by the Cuban people have continued to fabricate, one after another, successive and false pretexts to promote their plans.

Consequently, Cuba is maintained, with no justification whatsoever, on the list illegitimately drawn up by the U.S. State Department of countries that allegedly promote or protect terrorism in the world. In addition, officials from the Bush administration have repeated false accusations regarding Cuba's alleged capacity for the production of biological weapons.

At the same time, the U.S. government -- the same one that has assumed the right to limit the self-determination of any people in the world through its so-called "preemptive strikes", and is holding thousands of individuals in legal limbo and subhuman conditions at the Guantánamo Naval Base and on its own continental territory -- uses blackmail and coercion year after year to impose a resolution that manipulates the issue of human rights, so as to fabricate an illegitimate pretext for its policy of hostility towards Cuba.

In the meantime, the Migration Accords signed between the two countries in 1994 and 1995 have been a particular target for attack by the enemies of the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. The basic goal is to put an end to the orderly migratory flow established in these agreements and thereby incite massive illegal emigration from the island, as a result of the difficult conditions imposed on the Cuban people by the blockade and the encouragement of illegal emigration entailed by the absurd and murderous "Cuban Adjustment Act". Unprecedented in history, this legislation stipulates special guarantees and rights, including residence in the United States, exclusively for Cubans who arrive on U.S. soil illegally. This treatment contrasts sharply with the way in which millions of citizens of other countries who reach the territory of the superpower in the same way are hunted down, physically and psychologically abused, incarcerated and deported.

The response of the U.S. government to the adoption of General Assembly resolution 57/11, which received the votes of 173 states in favor of demanding that the U.S. government put an end to its policy of blockade against Cuba, has simply been an intensification of its illegal sanctions against the island.

Could the international community possibly allow such a grave affront to multilateralism, international law and the ethical and moral principles that guide international relations to go unanswered?

Cuba calls for an international order in which respect for international law prevails for everyone equally, as an unrenounceable paradigm of peaceful coexistence and justice on the planet. With the rightness of its cause and the solid unity forged in its historic battle for the full exercise of its sovereignty, Cuba will endure and triumph over the United States' attempts to wear down its commitment to independence through hunger, disease, and the wide array of obstacles to its economic and social wellbeing and progress.

The information compiled in this report, which is only a part of what can be said publicly, includes overwhelming evidence and detailed examples of the damages caused by the blockade to the Cuban people, with emphasis on the most recent incidents.

Any consideration of the policy of blockade should be undertaken from a historical perspective, for this is the only way to get a full picture of the enormous challenges faced by the Cuban nation for more than two centuries. Never has a country been subjected in such a continuous and permanent manner to the danger represented by a powerful neighbor historically bent on its domination and annexation. History has left no room for doubt as to the true intentions of the United States' policy towards Cuba, especially since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

In its zealous attempts to destroy the political, economic and social system established by the Cuban people with their Revolution -- sustained, consolidated and developed through the firm and sovereign will of the overwhelming majority of the people -- the application of economic sanctions has been a cornerstone of the United States' policy of hostility and aggression towards Cuba.

Preliminary studies show that the damages resulting from the application of this genocidal policy against Cuba now surpass 72 billion U.S. dollars. This is a conservative figure, and does not include the more than 54 billion dollars in direct damages caused to Cuban economic and social targets through acts of sabotage and terrorism promoted, organized and financed from the United States.

The absolute falsity of the various excuses used by successive U.S. administrations for more than four decades to attempt to justify the economic and political war against Cuba has in fact been demonstrated in official documents from the United States, declassified in 1991. [2] These documents include testimonies and irrefutable proof that this hostility predated any measures adopted by the Revolutionary government of Cuba from 1959 onwards.

The economic war against Cuba began long before the blockade was formally established through an executive order of the president of the United States. Its extraterritorial nature, institutionalized through the 1992 Torricelli Act, has always affected trade, financial relations and investments not only between the United States and Cuba, but also between Cuba and third countries.

The blockade abruptly and drastically cut Cuba off from all ties with the United States, our closest market, the country with which Cuba had historically carried out the bulk of its foreign trade, and to which we were technologically linked as well.

Cuba was then obliged to redirect its economic ties, and search out new sources of supplies and markets for its exports in much more distant regions of the world. All of this entailed enormous expenditures on transportation and freight costs, and oversized inventories and reserves, with the high cost implied by the tying up of resources.

The problems faced by the Cuban economy as a result of the blockade were even further aggravated when, after the disintegration of the socialist economic cooperation system and of the Soviet Union itself, Cuba was hit once again by the rupture of ties with its traditional trade partners, this time, the USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe. As far as the United States was concerned, this was the perfect moment to deal a final blow to the Cuban Revolution.

Thus, in 1992, the Torricelli Act was passed, abruptly cutting off Cuba's purchases of food and medicine from subsidiaries of U.S. companies based in third countries and establishing strict prohibitions against ships entering Cuban ports.

Still not satisfied, however, due to their failure to bring about the collapse of the Cuban economic and political system, the United States passed the Helms-Burton Act in 1996. This legislation endowed all of the prohibitions of the blockade with the status of law and sought to prevent foreign investment in Cuba. At the same time, it institutionalized subversion, financed and directed by the U.S. government, as a means to break the independent will of the Cuban people.

This legislation, which extended to the entire international community, has been complemented by subsequent provisions and measures aimed at even further reinforcing the blockade.

The declared disrespect for the rule of international law on the part of the U.S. government did not end with the adoption of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996. In open violation of the legislation and commitments of the United States regarding intellectual property, and particularly the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs), the U.S. government passed Section 211 of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1999. Section 211 is being used in the attempt to steal the Havana Club brand name from its legitimate owners, with the goal of granting the right to market Havana Club rum, first in the United States and then in third countries, to spurious and illegal claimants.

As was denounced in the report submitted by Cuba last year, in document A/57/264, the fraudulent coming to power in the United States of the administration of George W. Bush has resulted in an escalation of anti-Cuban rhetoric and greater support for the extremist and terrorist Cuban-American organizations in the state of Florida, to whom the current occupant of the White House owes his election. His ties with these groups, whose terrorist and pro-annexation activities are well known, have led to a toughening of the policy of blockade against the Cuban people.

While these economic sanctions and restrictions have been accompanied throughout more than four decades by initiatives to create, finance and direct internal subversion on the island, this particular administration has increased open support for the subversion of Cuban constitutional order to unprecedented levels. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana has been used to provide resources and financing and issue instructions to groups of mercenaries paid by and working for the superpower, with the aim of fomenting subversive and pro-annexation activities within Cuba. This is a clear violation and challenge to Cuban institutionality and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Added to all of this is the decision by President George W. Bush to designate and promote officials with an openly anti-Cuban stance to key positions in the U.S. government. The consistently threatening discourse of President Bush and these officials with regard to Cuba is clear evidence of the dangers facing the Cuban people. Some of them have gone so far as to state that military aggression against Cuba has not been definitively ruled out.

The escalation of anti-Cuban propaganda and the United States' violation of the bilateral Migration Accords -- including, among other serious aspects, a drastic reduction in the granting of visas for both emigrants and temporary visitors to the United States from our country -- are aimed at provoking a migratory crisis that could be used as a pretext for intervention in Cuba.

This past March 26, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell announced the granting of significant federal funds to support illegal radio and television broadcasting aimed at Cuba, which contravenes the regulations established by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The violation of our radio space with over 2 200 hours of broadcasting against Cuba weekly is aimed at fomenting internal subversion, acts of sabotage, illegal emigration, and the dissemination of outrageous lies and hoaxes against our country.

As part of the Bush administration's commitments to the Miami Cuban-American mob, this past May 20, in a clear escalation of radio aggression, the station created and operated by the U.S. government for the purpose of promoting subversion in Cuba, and insultingly given the name of José Martí, began broadcasting on four new frequencies. This attack led to interferences in Cuban radio broadcasting.

On the evening of that same day, the television signal beamed towards Cuba for the same purposes by the official U.S. propaganda agencies went on the air from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., broadcasting from a U.S. Armed Forces aircraft and using channels and systems legally assigned to Cuban television stations and duly registered with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), severely affecting Cuban television services, particularly educational and cultural programming.

Previously, on March 24, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), one of the U.S. government agencies that ensure the implementation of the blockade, had issued new regulations that reinforced the blockade policy. Even further restrictions were placed on travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens, and the granting of licenses for people-to-people educational exchange was completely eliminated. At the same time, in keeping with this escalation of aggression, steps were adopted to facilitate travel to Cuba for those who want to come to our country in order to supply the mercenary groups who conspire to subvert the Cuban constitutional order.

These new regulations joined with a toughening of sanctions against U.S. citizens who travel to Cuba. One of the most publicized cases has been that of Joan Slote, a senior citizen and retired health care sector worker, who traveled to Cuba for eight days two years ago. What was the crime committed by this 74-year-old woman? Going on a trip to Cuba and traveling through a part of the country on bicycle. For this "serious violation" of the blockade regulations, she was given a fine of 8 500 dollars.

To cite another example, how can it be explained that more than 10 patients from the United States who requested permission to travel to Cuba for ozone therapy services at a prestigious Cuban scientific institution were not allowed to visit the country and benefit from these treatments, as a result of the policy of blockade? Does such a policy make any sense whatsoever?

Finally, it is worthwhile to recall that Cuba is the only country off limits to U.S. citizens by law.

With regard to sales of food to Cuba, only recently authorized, these are subject to complex procedures and rules that make them enormously difficult to carry out. [3] U.S. companies are obliged to go through complicated bureaucratic steps to obtain a license authorizing them to sell their products to Cuba. In addition, our country is obliged to pay for all purchases in cash, with no possibility of financial credit, not even from private sources; these payments must be made through banks in third countries and in other currencies, leading to losses as a result of the necessary currency exchange operations.

The transportation of the products that can finally be bought must be carried out by ships from the United States or third countries, after obtaining a license for this purpose. Cuba cannot use its own maritime fleet for these commercial operations, resulting in considerable losses.

This is compounded by the fact that our country cannot make any sales whatsoever to U.S. companies interested in buying Cuban products, which therefore rules out this possibility of generating a source of income that would allow for the expansion of these operations.

Finally, it is impossible to even imagine trade between two sovereign states without the existence of a normal regime of business relations that allows for negotiation, a regular financial flow, air and maritime transportation, the benefit of customary formulas supporting foreign trade, and the critical access to credits.

The U.S. government uses its powerful media to inundate public opinion in the United States and around the world with a demonized image of the political, economic and social system that the Cuban people have freely chosen for themselves, by an overwhelming majority. At the same time, however, it seeks to silence the international community's rejection of the genocidal policy of blockade, under which numerous generations of Cubans have suffered.

Likewise, it ignores and attempts to conceal the resolutions calling for the lifting of the blockade that have been adopted every year by the United Nations General Assembly since 1992, and received an unprecedented number of votes in favor last year in this forum of universal participation.

Far from responding to this call for a change in policy towards Cuba, made by the international community and a growing number of sectors in the United States itself, including Republican and Democrat legislators in both houses of Congress, the current administration has not only adopted an even tougher and more confrontational discourse, but has also continued to step up the measures and actions aimed at even further intensifying the blockade against the Cuban nation.

Nevertheless, there are more voices joining in the rejection of the policy of blockade against Cuba every day. The visit to our country by 13 U.S. Congress members during the first quarter of 2003 and the introduction in Congress of six initiatives in favor of the lifting of the regime of sanctions are a palpable example of the growing rejection of current U.S. government policy towards Cuba on the part of important sectors of U.S. society.

The U.S. government's continued application of this aggressive policy and the rising hostility aimed at the Cuban people by the current administration are irrefutable proof of the total contempt shown by the superpower's top leaders for international law and the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter.

At a time when threats of war loom over the world, and the most formidable power in history is attempting to impose a Nazi-fascist dictatorship on a global scale, the Cuban people will continue to denounce the genocidal policy of blockade, and with the same strength and determination, they will defend the achievements and conquests made in the process of profound revolutionary transformations.

A brief overview of the main acts of legislation that serve as the basis for the extraterritorial application of the policy of blockade will suffice to demonstrate the immorality and illegitimacy of the United States' claim that the blockade is a bilateral issue between two countries.

In 1992, as a result of the triumphalism reigning in the United States after its strategic victory in the so-called Cold War, the prevalent view among the country's imperialist circles was that the time had come to destroy the Cuban Revolution once and for all. This was what led to the adoption of the Cuban Democracy Act, better known as the Torricelli Act.

At the time the Torricelli Act was signed, Cuba acquired vital goods like medicine and food from foreign branches or affiliates of U.S. companies based in third countries. In 1991, the volume of trade with these subsidiaries was around 718 million dollars, of which 91% comprised food and medicine. This trade was drastically cut off as a result of the Torricelli Act.

By virtue of this legislation, ships registered in any nation that touched port in Cuba or transported goods to or on behalf of Cuba were prohibited from entering U.S. ports for a period of 180 days and threatened with inclusion on a "black list", in open violation of the basic norms of freedom of trade and navigation enshrined in international law, international agreements and United Nations provisions on this matter.

As if this contempt and violation of international law were not sufficient, in 1996 the United States adopted the so-called Helms-Burton Act, aimed not only at obstructing trade between Cuba and the rest of the world, but also at halting the incipient process of foreign investment in Cuba in the form of capital, technology and markets.

With this legislation, the United States assumed the right to officially and publicly decide on issues that should be exclusive attributes of the sovereignty of other states.

In addition, the act instructs the Secretary of State to prohibit entry into the United States for all officials and executives of companies that violate the iron-clad blockade against Cuba, denying them free access to U.S. territory and obliging the Secretary of State to compile a list of "excludables".

While both pieces of legislation intensified and aggravated this unacceptable violation of international law, by giving it a congressional seal and presidential approval, the provisions that preceded them and their practical application had always entailed transgressions against the sovereignty of other nations.

The U.S. government has applied its own legislation on an extraterritorial basis, in contempt of third countries' legitimate interests in investing in and developing normal economic and commercial relations with Cuba. It has unleashed persecution on companies and their personnel for establishing or even proposing to establish economic, commercial or scientific and technical relations with Cuba.

Not a single sector of the Cuban economy has escaped the extraterritorial effects of this policy. Of the 685 million dollars in damages to Cuban foreign trade in the year 2002 as a consequence of the blockade, 178.2 million dollars, or 26%, were a direct result of its extraterritorial effect.

There are more than sufficient examples to demonstrate the continuity of this policy, to which there are no exceptions, not even among the United States' closest allies. Here are just a few:

-          As part of its normal consular banking operations, the Cuban Embassy in the United Kingdom attempted to cash a check for 30,000 pounds sterling at Citibank N.A. The check had been issued by First Choice Holidays as payment for tourist cards. The travel agency in question had been purchasing these cards for several years and had always paid for them with Citibank checks, which had previously been cashed without difficulty of any kind.

However, in November of 2002, the check was returned. Citibank stated that it could not honor the check because of the United States' sanctions against Cuba. The travel agency was surprised by the bank's response and issued another check from a U.K. bank, which was cashed without difficulty.

Citibank N.A. of London is a branch of a U.S. bank and this incident, according to a written communication from Citibank, was a direct result of the U.S. blockade on Cuba, made extensive to branches or banks overseas.

- In February of 2003, the U.K. company ITS Caleb Brett, which had been providing services for more than 25 years to the Cuban company Servicios Internacionales de Supervisión CUBACONTROL S.A., decided to cut off all ties with Cuba, in compliance with the Cuban Assets Control Regulations of the U.S. Treasury Department.

ITS Caleb Brett circulated instructions to all of its branches around the world to turn down all requests for service from Cuba and to refuse to provide services for any shipments transported to or from the island. In view of this situation, the Cuban company was obliged to seek out other companies to provide the same services.

- On October 7, 2002, the Cuban company Aerocarribean was forced to cease operating a Boeing 737 plane leased from the Chilean company Skyservice and return it immediately to Chile, its country of registration. The hastiness of this withdrawal stemmed from the fact that the Chilean company had cancelled its contract with Cuba as a result of pressures from the U.S. government. This was confirmed by a written communication sent by Boeing, which stated that owing to decisions adopted by the U.S. government, it was unable to provide products, services or any other means of support to Skyservice in view of its charter operations to Cuba. As a result, in addition to other damages, the Cuban company lost close to one million dollars through its inability to fulfill contracts signed with third parties and the cancellation of negotiations to establish charter flights.

- In a blatantly extraterritorial application of the policy of blockade against Cuba, the U.S. Treasury Department arbitrarily keeps a list of "specially designated nationals" of Cuba. This list includes the Japanese company Kyoei International, which has close ties with Cuba. As a result of this measure, which is clearly aimed at intimidating other companies, Toyota and Mitsubishi have refused to make direct sales to Cuba so as not to meet with the same fate as Kyoei and to protect their ties with the U.S. market.

- In early February of 2003, a report was published on the Internet by Fairplay Daily News, announcing that Ceres Terminals Inc., a U.S. company that operates the Fairview Cove container terminal in Halifax, Canada, had refused to quote stevedoring rates for the Italian shipping line Costa, because the line touches port in Havana. This decision was allegedly based on the advice of their lawyers, out of fear of potential problems with Washington due to the presence of containers loaded in the port of Havana.

- In early 2003, negotiations for the purchase by Cuba of baby food containers were frustrated by the foreign supplier's fear of sanctions under the Helms-Burton Act. The search for a new supplier led to a considerable delay in the contracting and subsequent purchase of the product in question, with obvious consequences for the Cuban industry involved.

- On March 23, 2003, a ship left Havana with a container of 1, 894 boxes of Tropical Island brand juice, produced by the Cuban company Río Zaza and purchased by the Japanese company ASHU-4. There were plans for a stopover in a port along the way.

Based on the decision made by one of the shipping company's specialists to save five days sailing time, the stopover was made in the port of Los Angeles, U.S.A. Under pressure from U.S. federal authorities, the container was seized, allegedly in compliance with the restrictions imposed by the blockade. This incident proves what an irrational and ridiculous extent the policy of blockade can reach.

The United States, self-proclaimed champion of free trade around the world, is the same country that seeks to force the entire world to participate in the blockade against Cuba, violating the most basic norms of free trade.

For more than 40 years, and since the very beginning of the genocidal policy of blockade, the Cuban national health care and educational systems and the realization of the Cuban people's right to food have been top-priority targets for U.S. aggression. These attacks have not spared the population's cultural development, despite the fact that this particular sector, given its heritage value for every people and for humanity as a whole, has generally been respected even in the most brutal armed conflicts in the history of human civilization.

Actions aimed at creating the conditions to bring about hunger and disease, and thus undermine the people's support of the Cuban Revolution, have consistently been a part of the concrete plans and programs of the dirty war against Cuba.

 

 

3.1.-  HEALTH CARE

There is ample knowledge and recognition of the efforts and programs carried out in Cuba to provide the population with health care services that are free, universal, modern and efficient, ensuring a high degree of protection and a long life expectancy. Despite the economic difficulties facing the country, this sector has continued to be a priority, with the development of a health care system that extends to every corner of the country and has made it possible to achieve and maintain major accomplishments in this sector.

Nevertheless, Cuban health care services have been continuously threatened by the United States' policy of blockade. The restrictions imposed on the acquisition of medical supplies and technology from the United States for use in the national health care system, the obstacles to medical treatment that this entails, and the lack of access to advanced scientific and medical information have caused considerable damage to Cuban public health care services.

The impossibility of acquiring the necessary medicines or equipment has sometimes prevented Cuban doctors from saving lives or relieving suffering, resulting in physical and psychological damage to patients, their families and medical professionals themselves.

Following are a few of the most recent cases that illustrate these consequences:

- A current example is related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute in Cuba has been unable to acquire the Vitrogen diagnostic kit used to detect the coronavirus that causes the disease. As a result, it has been obliged to acquire other diagnostic means through third parties, at much higher prices.

- The companies that manufacture equipment and reagents for diagnostic purposes are, in 70% of cases, U.S.-owned. As a consequence, the supplies needed for the work of clinical laboratories must be imported from Europe, at much higher prices. For example, the companies Beckman-Coulter, Dade-Behring, Abbot and Bayer do not allow the sale of their technologies to Cuba, and some of these are the only ones of their kind in the world.

- The effects on the availability of medicine, disposable material and replacement parts for equipment, particularly those used in the treatment of patients in emergency, intensive therapy and surgical wards, as well as other services for both adults and children, have made the conditions in which medical personnel carry out their work extraordinarily difficult.

Only the tremendous effort, dedication and scientific training of Cuban health care workers have made it possible to maintain and even improve many of the health care indicators.

- The care of children with cancer is one of the areas most severely affected by the measures of the blockade:

·         The purchase of cytostatics, vital for these children's survival, has been seriously affected by the fact that U.S. transnationals have bought the pharmaceutical laboratories that formerly had contracts with Cuba.

·         The U.S. company Varian Medical Systems acquired the brachytherapy business of Canadian company MDS Nordion, which formerly supplied brachytherapy equipment to Cuba. As a result, the Cuban public health system has been unable to purchase the sources of Ir-192 radioactive isotopes used for radiation treatment of cancerous tumors.

- There has also been a profound effect on the health care program established for children who need transplants, due to the impossibility of acquiring the necessary technology. The struggle to save the lives of the children who need to undergo these risky surgical procedures has often made it necessary to take them to other countries, resulting in extremely high financial costs and major inconveniences for their families.

- The quality of medical care for disabled children has been limited by the scarcity of medicines like corticosteroids, third-generation antibiotics, antioxidants and children's catheter bags, all of which are sold at lower prices in the U.S. market, to which Cuba does not have access in practice.

- Restrictions in the epidemiological sector extend even to cooperation between scientific institutions in the United States and Cuba. For example, a rotavirus study project to be funded by U.S. scientific centers was recently turned down. The rotavirus causes a severe diarrheic disease in children that leads to a high number of deaths, particularly in the countries of the Third World.

This study would have made it possible to determine the scope of the spread of the rotavirus in Cuba, an essential element in the search for a possible vaccine against the virus, which would have a tremendous impact on preventing diarrhea-related deaths in children around the world.

- Dr. Roberto Fernández, head of the Biosecurity Department of the Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute, requested a biosecurity catalogue from a major U.S. company, a normal practice used by scientific centers around the world to obtain updated information on products available on the world market. Dr. Fernández received a fax from the above-mentioned company informing him that it would be impossible to send the catalogue, given the prohibitions imposed by the U.S. State Department.

- Another area with a direct impact on the health of the population is the supply and chlorination of water for human consumption. Up until now, no suppliers have been found for replacement parts for water chlorination equipment from the U.S. companies Wallace & Tiernan and Capitol. Given the impossibility of buying the parts directly from the suppliers, potential vendors have been found in third countries, although the cost would be 60,000 dollars more than it would have been in the United States.

- The criminal application of the policy of blockade against Cuba extends even to the activities of U.S. non-governmental organizations. This is the case of the Disarm Education Fund, an NGO that was prohibited from sending a donation of medicine to Cuba until two antibiotics were removed from the shipment; the antibiotics in question, Cipro and Doxycyclin,  are used, among other things, for treating patients infected with anthrax. The U.S. authorities alleged that the decision was based on reasons of national security.

- On April 10, 2003, the U.S. Department of Trade issued its definitive decision to deny an export license to USA/Cuba Info Med, a humanitarian non-governmental organization based in California, which was planning, as on previous occasions, to donate 423 computers to health care institutions in Cuba. The computers donated are installed in Cuban hospitals and clinics as part of the diagnostic and medical information network.

On this particular occasion, the computers were to be sent to the Nephrology Institute and the national network for the treatment of kidney diseases, to facilitate an epidemiological study for the prevention of chronic kidney ailments. Computers were also to be given to the cardiology department of the William Soler Pediatric Hospital, the national pediatric cardiology network, and the Latin American School of Medical Sciences, which is attended by more than 7 000 young people from humble families in Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States and Africa.

These computers were similar to others donated previously, with the same processing capacity as computers sold in any retail store in the United States. However, according to the letter in which the request for a license was denied, the U.S. Trade, State and Defense Departments had reached the conclusion that this export would be detrimental to the interests of U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. government had reviewed the letter sent by the organization challenging the initial denial of a license, and had determined to maintain its decision to deny the request, due to the allegedly high levels of processing capacity of the computers in question and the risk that they would be diverted for unauthorized uses or users.

3.2.- FOOD

One of the highest priority targets in the U.S. government's economic war on Cuba has been the food sector. Generating the conditions that lead to hunger and despair qualifies, by virtue of international law, as a crime of genocide and a violation of the Cuban people's right to food.

The blockade measures affect imports of food products destined for the Cuban population, both for direct consumption in the home and social consumption in schools, old age homes, hospitals and daycare centers. They have a direct impact on the people's nutritional levels and consequently on their health.  

The prohibitions imposed by the U.S. government on the export of food products to the United States led to 114 million dollars in losses for Cuba in the year 2002 alone.

The fact that transactions take place in a single direction also prevents the rational and efficient use of transportation, given that ships leave Cuba in ballast. This is the case even when the next destination of the ship is not the United States.

An example of this is the case of bulk shipments that could register savings of approximately 36% in transportation costs. Current freight expenditures are around 15.50 dollars per metric ton, when this figure could be reduced to approximately 10.00 dollars if shipments could be taken back to the United States.

The regime of trade disparities corroborated in the so-called Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act passed in October of 2002, while allowing the controlled sale of foodstuffs to Cuba, is irrefutable proof that the blockade, far from being eliminated, is still fully in force, especially due to the rigorous application of additional restrictions to those already established in previous legislation.

In view of this reality, and despite the difficulties and limitations that have prevailed in this one-way trade, the purchase of foodstuffs has been the result of enormous efforts by companies in both countries to succeed in the negotiation, contracting and execution of sales operations.

If trade could be carried out between both countries under normal conditions, the benefits for U.S. farmers and consumers and for all Cubans would be considerable.

For example, if Cuba had not been forced to spend an additional 22.4 million dollars to import food from other markets last year, it could have used this money to purchase 52,000 metric tons of bread wheat, 40,000 metric tons of rice and

4, 000 metric tons of powdered milk from the United States. This would have enriched the basic diet of the Cuban population, while benefiting U.S. producers as well.

The agricultural sector, whose development is essential for food production and consequently for improving the nutrition of the Cuban people, suffered damages of 108.5 million dollars as a result of the U.S. blockade.

The export of tropical fruit to the United States was historically a major Cuban export line until 1959. Given the tariff concessions offered by the United States on imports of fruit, Cuba could export 13 million tons of avocadoes, mangos, coconuts, papayas and other fruits to that country, representing approximately 25 million dollars in income.

With regard to exports of citrus fruits and their derivatives, losses resulting from prices and freight costs are estimated at 4.5 million dollars annually. Approximate 50% of current exports could be redirected to the U.S. market, among other reasons, because of the different dates of the grapefruit season in Cuba and Florida. This means that Cuban grapefruit would not compete with those domestically grown.

Seed potatoes must be imported with freight costs 50% higher than if these were bought from the United States. With this money alone, Cuba could sow an additional 2, 300 hectares and thus produce an additional 57,000 tons, at least, which would obviously benefit the population.

At the same time, the blockade prevents Cuba’s access to the most advanced technologies in the area of animal feed, developed by the United States. If Cuban farmers had access to these technologies, with the current poultry farming stock, they could increase egg production by 291 million units and poultry production by 8, 800 tons.

The direct cost of the blockade in the poultry production sector is estimated at 59.6 million dollars. Solely owing to the need to acquire the raw materials for poultry feed in distant markets, this sector incurs additional costs of more than 10 million dollars annually.

Likewise, the restrictions imposed on Cuba in the acquisition of fuel, spare parts for farming equipment, cargo transportation, pesticides and fertilizers have a negative impact on agricultural and livestock yields. The country must import around 35,000 tires of different sorts every year, 80% of them from Asia and the rest from Eastern Europe, which results in close to half a million dollars in losses through freight costs alone.

Veterinary services are also affected by the pressures exercised by the U.S. authorities to obstruct the acquisition of raw materials for the production of medicines, equipment and diagnostic kits, the latter being produced exclusively by U.S. companies in the majority of cases. These measures have a direct impact on the efforts to combat diseases affecting Cuban animal stocks, some of which were deliberately introduced into the country as a consequence of biological warfare waged by the United States. The fight against just two of these diseases, bovine nodular dermatosis and varroasis in bees, costs the country close to a million dollars annually.

3.3.- EDUCATION

All Cubans, without distinction as to gender, race, political beliefs or religion, have equal access to education, free of charge, at every level of education, including university.

For more than 40 years, the Cuban education system has suffered heavy losses as a result of the economic war against our country. The intensification of the genocidal policy of blockade over the last decade has had a significant impact on the supply of basic materials for the education of Cuban students.

Due to the restrictions imposed on Cuba by the blockade, the buying power for the importing of materials and resources for Cuban schools has decreased by 25% to 30% since the early 1990s, since these goods must now be acquired in distant markets, and sometimes at higher prices. In the year 2002 alone, Cuba imported 11.7 million dollars worth of materials from Asian markets; if it had been possible to purchase these materials from the United States, freight costs would have been significantly lower, and thus a greater amount of merchandise could have been bought with the same amount of money.

Due to the difficulties in making purchases, the supply of pencils, workbooks and paper for general education use is still only half of what was acquired in 1989. Despite the enormous efforts being made, only 50% of the necessary textbooks and reference materials are being printed, while the effects of aging and deterioration are felt in physics, chemistry and biology laboratories, as well as vocational workshops in high schools.

One of the sectors most severely affected has been the Cuban special education system. There are multiple examples of the difficulties faced in this important effort as a consequence of the blockade.

To import the Braille machines needed for the education of blind and visually impaired children, the country has had to pay up to 1 000 dollars a unit in other markets, when the same machines could have been bought in the United States for only 700 dollars. The acquisition of Braillon paper, essential in this area of education, is subject to a similar situation.

The national program for the construction of special education schools has also been affected as a consequence of this criminal policy. The lifting of the blockade would lead to a significant improvement in special education, allowing for the construction of all of the schools envisioned in this program and fuller, more fruitful participation in society on the part of children and young people who suffer from some sort of disability.

Despite the impact of these adverse effects on the possibilities for greater development of the skills and capacities of Cuban children and youth, the Cuban government has mobilized copious resources and trained a highly qualified staff of professors to maintain the country's educational achievements and overcome the challenges posed by the blockade.

The shortages resulting from the intensification of the blockade have been counteracted by the political will of the Cuban government to maintain and elevate the population's level of education and knowledge. This is demonstrated by the assignation in 2003 of more than three billion pesos, or 23.8% of the total annual budget, for funding the educational system.

Despite the international recognition of its educational programs, including that of UNESCO, Cuban society aspires to achieve even higher levels of general and comprehensive education and culture, so as to reach first place worldwide in these spheres. With this goal in mind, numerous educational programs have been underway since the year 2000.

Among them, we could mention the school computer program, for which the goal is to supply schools with the computers needed for the work of all students; the teacher training program, aimed at fulfilling the growing demand for teachers; and the art instructor training program, to enhance the promotion of art and culture in every school and community.

The audiovisual program, for its part, has resulted in the supply of a television set for every school classroom and a VCR for every 100 students, along with the launching of a new educational television channel; a second educational channel will be introduced in the near future.

At this point in time, 74% of the total number of children enrolled in primary school are taught in classrooms with no more than 20 students each. Strenuous efforts are being made to extend this maximum class size to all of the country's primary schools, while a similar program has begun in the country's junior high schools. 

Cuba has reiterated its willingness to share the advances it has made in this sphere with all of the countries of the world, and has offered UNESCO the new methodologies created by Cuban educational specialists.

3.4.- CULTURE

For more than 40 years, the blockade has deprived the peoples of the United States and Cuba of the valuable cultural expressions of both nations by limiting or prohibiting the presence in Cuba and the United States of the principal exponents of their art and literature. The negative consequences caused by the application of these absurd sanctions on the cultural development programs carried out by the Cuban government have been significant.

The damages to this sector are reflected, among other aspects, in the impossibility of access to the U.S. market of cultural goods and services for the acquisition of the necessary resources for artistic creation and training, as well as for the functioning of the cultural industries. They are also felt in the obstacles to the enjoyment of the exercise of the intellectual rights of our creators, and in the exclusion of Cuba from hemispheric meetings of Ministers of Culture.

One of the most ridiculous measures applied by the U.S. government is the prohibition on performances by Cuban artists in that country for commercial ends. Cuban artists are not allowed to sign commercial work contracts in the United States, and thus cannot receive fees for their performances, not even through the agencies representing them, despite the interest of impresarios, producers and institutions in marketing Cuban cultural and artistic productions.

The United States was historically a regular venue for performances by Cuban musicians and a primary market for the Cuban recording industry. Between May of 2002 and April of 2003 alone, there were 497 performances in the United States by 32 Cuban artists or groups, whose artistic level, quality and audience popularity should have garnered over 13 million dollars.

Copyrights and royalties are recognized by almost all of the countries of the world. Nevertheless, Cuban intellectuals are denied these in the United States because of the restrictions of the blockade.

Despite the fact that in 1994, the U.S. Congress modified the “Free Trade in Ideas” Act through the Berman Amendment, which recognizes that Cuban composers should receive royalties for the public performance and radio play of their works, U.S. institutions continue to refuse to establish negotiations or working relations with our music publishers.

Due to this situation, payments to Cuban artists are frozen in U.S. banks and have been illegally placed at the disposal of U.S. entities, depriving the true copyright owners of their enjoyment.

At the same time, U.S. banks delay transfers of funds under the above-mentioned act using the pretext of avoiding the risk of committing a violation of the regulations established by the blockade and monitored by the OFAC, with a consequent loss in monetary value.

A particularly significant effect is the lack of Cuban institutional participation in the U.S. art market. It is impossible to take part in auctions like those at Christie's or Sotheby's, or in art fairs like Art Miami and Art America, or to hold commercial exhibitions. Taking into account that the United States is home to the world's most important galleries and fairs, the damages incurred by our artists through this exclusion are incalculable.

Cuban writers of recognized international prestige have found it impossible, to a great extent, to be published in the United States, which has resulted in significant cultural and economic damage, not always quantifiable.

The Spanish-language book market is one of the most important in the United States. Being cut off from this market, or participating in a limited manner due to enormous bureaucratic, tariff and transportation obstacles, means that Cuban books are either excluded or unable to compete.

Commercial relations undertaken with potential distributors of Cuban books have been adversely affected as well. Well-known are the pressures and sanctions applied against counterparts in the United States and even in third countries, affecting relations and participation in book-related events, such as the Miami Book Fair. An example is the cancellation of negotiations for publications to be sent to Miami through Lecturum, a company with headquarters in Mexico.

The higher prices of supplies imported for the art industry, given the impossibility of purchasing them in the United States, and the accompanying increase in freight costs, have a particularly strong impact on our national culture.

Not a single sector of the Cuban cultural sphere is spared these effects. Among the most significant examples is the National Ballet of Cuba, an internationally renowned institution, which is prohibited from purchasing ballet shoes, costumes and set design materials from the United States, which generates difficulties in staging performances and major additional expenses.

For the Cuban Cultural Fund, the impact of the blockade on this institution's imports is one of the principal problems it faces. An illustrative example is the purchase of Spectrum glass, used by stained glass artists to create windows, lamps and other decorative works. The opaline glass used for lamps can be purchased for 12 dollars a square meter in the United States, but in order to acquire this same material, Cuba must pay 41 dollars a square meter in Italy or 36 dollars in Spain.

The same is true for a wide range of other art supplies, including oil paints, acrylic paints, gesso, linen and cotton canvases, brushes, varnishes and others.

Cuba has lost major distributors in other countries through the absorption of these firms by U.S. companies. This was the case in the financial losses suffered by the Cuban record company EGREM when it was forced to find a new distributor in Spain, after Distrimusic S.A. was bought out by Warner, and the latter was not prepared to continue working with Cuba.

Obstacles to access to Cuban art for U.S. collectors affect not only Cuba, but citizens of the United States as well. Many dealers and gallery owners could enhance their collections with Cuban art, and even open up new commercial channels with the works of the talented and broad movement of Cuban visual artists and craftspeople. However, given the restrictions imposed by the blockade on this market, any access must be achieved through third parties, resulting in doubts and uncertainty over the authenticity of works and the legality of ownership.

Another of the most visible effects of the blockade is the fact that the OFAC prohibits U.S. citizens from participating in movie co-productions with Cubans. Likewise, the OFAC prohibits U.S. citizens from entering into co-productions with third countries for the production of informational materials involving transactions with Cuba or Cuban nationals. This ban has had a particularly negative impact for the Cuban Cinema Institute (ICAIC), due to the impossibility of providing services for a number of productions planned to be filmed in Cuba.

A project on the life of U.S. writer Ernest Hemingway had to be cancelled as a result of the prohibitions of the blockade, depriving Cuban institutions of three million dollars in earnings.

For the same reasons, another project dealing with the life of a historical figure of the Americas was cancelled when it was determined that the "hostile climate" of the United States towards Cuba would entail risks for the participants. The proposed budget for the project was around 50 million dollars, and it was estimated that Cuba would have received half of it.

Despite the adverse effects of the blockade, the cultural development of the Cuban people has continued to advance throughout these 44 years. The Cuban government, conscious of the fact that general comprehensive culture dignifies and frees the creative potential of human beings, has initiated numerous programs in recent years that will raise the cultural level of its people to unimagined heights.

Without culture, freedom is not possible. Conviction in this belief, which is not limited to artistic culture, but rather implies the concept of comprehensive general culture, including professional training and basic knowledge of a wide range of disciplines in the arts, sciences and humanities, is what inspires the country's efforts today.

The unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba has an ever greater negative impact on Cuban foreign trade.

The arbitrary regulations and legislations that make up this pernicious policy against our country continue to affect the economic development and social wellbeing of the Cuban people, causing significant losses in resources and hard currency. It is estimated that in the year 2002, the U.S. blockade caused 685 million dollars in damages to Cuban foreign trade, a figure that is 41.8 million dollars higher than in 2001.