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How to prosper under sanctions: Tips from Cuba

With 20 days to go before October 25, the day set aside by Sadc countries to amplify the region’s collective voice and express solidarity against illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, The Sunday Mail correspondent Wallace Ruzvidzo spoke to Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Carmelina Rodriguez, on the effects of sanctions on nations. Cuba is a victim of a 60-year-old United States embargo that prevents American businesses, and businesses with commercial activities in the United States, from conducting trade with Cuban interests.

Q: How would you characterise relations between Cuba and Zimbabwe?

A: Zimbabwe and Cuba enjoy a good relationship. I have always said this is a historical relationship based on friendship, mutual respect and collaboration. This relationship started before the independence (of Zimbabwe), during the liberation struggle.

The leaders of ZANU and ZAPU, late President Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, were in contact with the leadership of the Cuban Revolution.

After independence, the co-operation has been strengthened, particularly in education and health sectors.

Many Cuban technicians, professors and medical doctors came to Zimbabwe to give a hand in the process of building a new independent society.

More than 3 000 young Zimbabweans went to Cuba for training in our universities in the framework of the Cuban scholarship programme for students of Africa and Latin America. Cuba has contributed to the establishment of Bindura University of Science Education and Cuban professors have permanently been part of the staff at this institution.

Q: What areas of co-operation are in place in light of Covid-19?

A: Covid-19 has demonstrated the necessity of solidarity and co-operation among the countries and peoples because nobody can tackle this pandemic alone.

As you know, Cuba is a small island without solid economic resources, but has put in place a robust health system.

Cuba is world-famous for its ability to train outstanding doctors and nurses and for its generosity and spirit of solidarity in supporting other countries.

In Zimbabwe, we have permanent co-operation in the health sector through the Medical Brigade of 34 senior medical doctors. Some of them have participated in the fight against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

They are ready to work together with Zimbabwean personnel on the control of this pandemic. The MOHCC (Ministry of Health and Child Care) announced that Zimbabwe has acquired Cuban Interferon Alfa2b, a product that reduces 50 percent of the virus in patients.

Cuba and Zimbabwe are working to further deepen and broaden co-operation in the development of the pharmaceutical industry, in establishing a plant to produce medicinal drugs in the country.

Q: What lessons can Zimbabwe learn from Cuba which has been under sanctions for a long time?

A: Resistance! Cuba understands very well the nature of economic sanctions. For 60 years, successive US governments have imposed an iron and inhuman economic, financial and commercial blockade on Cuba.

Sixty years of lack of food and medicine, the impossibility of obtaining spare parts for machinery or public transport, the lack of school supplies, or even the restrictions imposed on those who wish to trade or do solidarity donations to the Cuban people.

The policy of blockade continues to represent the biggest impediment to the development of the potential of the Cuban economy, for the implementation of the National Economic and Social Development Plan, and for attaining development. The current American administration has intensified the sanctions to provoke desperation among the people and push for a regime change in Cuba even in times of Covid-19.

Despite the obsession of the US government, Cuba has moved forward. We Cubans have been creative and have firmly resisted the onslaught of the worst economic siege, which has tried to suffocate the nation. Cuba is not alone.

Q: How best can the voice of countries under sanctions be heard?

A: We do not have the intention to give up, never. We have demonstrated that we are a resilient nation and we will continue resisting and fighting for our dreams and sovereignty. We have used all the scenarios to condemn this unprecedented siege in human history.

Since 1992, year after year, Cuba has presented to the (United Nations) General Assembly the Resolution of the necessity to end economic, commercial and financial blockade that has received categorical support from the international community, regardless of political positions and geographical areas. But the US government has demonstrated that it does not take into consideration the international opinion and continues applying its war policy against my country.

The Zimbabwe-Cuba Solidarity Association (ZICUFA) praises the role of the “Henry Reeve” Cuban Medical Brigade

During a meeting of the Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Carmelina Ramírez, and the Counsellor, Yoisy Ford, with the ZICUFA leadership, the organization highlighted the role played by the “Henry Reeve” International Medical Brigade throughout these 15 years.

ZICUFA ratified its support for the Cuban Revolution and rejected the intensification of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the current US administration, as well as the defamation campaign against Cuban medical collaboration that provides services to more than 65 countries of the world.

Relaxed meeting of the Cuban Ambassador in Zimbabwe with the Patron of the Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association

The Ambassador of  Cuba in Zimbabwe, Carmelina Ramírez, holds a fruitful meeting with the Senator and Patron of the  Zimbabwe- Cuba Friendship Association, Honorable Mr. Chen Chimutegwende, the Councilor, Yoisy Ford, was also present at the meeting.

During the exchange, the good state of bilateral relations was highlighted and issues of common interest between both Friendship Associations were addressed.

Intervention in the general debate of the 75th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Secretary General:

Mr. president:

A global epidemic has drastically changed everyday life. From one day to the next, millions are infected and thousands of people die whose life expectancy was higher thanks to development. High-benefit hospital systems have collapsed and the health structures of poor countries suffer from their chronic disability. Drastic quarantines turn the most populous cities into virtual wastelands. Social life does not exist outside of digital networks. Theaters, discos, galleries, even schools, are closed or resized. Our borders have closed, our economies are contracting, our reserves are depleted. Life undergoes a radical redesign of ancestral customs and uncertainty displaces certainty. Even the best friends are unknown under the masks that save us from contagion. Everything changes. As well as the solution to the pandemic, the democratization of this indispensable Organization is urgent, so that it responds effectively to the needs and aspirations of all peoples.

The desired right of humanity to live in peace and security, with justice and freedom, the basis of the union of nations, is constantly threatened. More than 1.9 trillion dollars are wasted today in a senseless arms race based on the aggressive and warmongering policy of imperialism, whose main exponent is the current United States government, responsible for 38 percent of global military spending. We are talking about a markedly aggressive and morally corrupt regime that despises and attacks multilateralism, uses financial blackmail in its relationship with the agencies of the United Nations system and with a never-before-seen arrogance withdraws from the World Health Organization, from UNESCO and the Human Rights Council. Paradoxically, the country that hosts the UN headquarters also departs from fundamental international treaties, such as the Paris Agreement on climate change; repudiates the agreed nuclear agreement with Iran; promotes trade wars; ends its commitment to international instruments of control in the field of disarmament; militarize cyberspace; multiplies coercion and unilateral sanctions against those who do not comply with its designs and it sponsors the forcible overthrow of sovereign governments through unconventional warfare.

In this line of behavior, divorced from the old principles of peaceful coexistence and respect for the right of others to self-determination as guarantor of peace, the government chaired by Donald Trump, in addition, manipulates cooperation in the field of law for subversive purposes. democracy and human rights, while in its own territory, expressions of hatred, racism, police brutality and irregularities in the electoral system and the right to vote of citizens proliferate practically without control. It is urgent to reform the United Nations. This powerful organization, which emerged from the millionaire cost in lives of two world wars and as a result of the universal understanding of the importance of dialogue, negotiation, cooperation and international legality, cannot delay its updating and democratization any longer. Today's world needs as much the UN as the one in which it was born.

Something very special and profound has failed, when there is a daily and permanent violation of the principles of the UN Charter, and when the use or threat of the use of force in international relations is increasingly frequent. There is no way to sustain any longer, as something natural and immovable, an unequal, unjust and undemocratic international order, which puts selfishness before solidarity and the petty interests of a powerful minority over the legitimate aspirations of millions of people. Despite the dissatisfactions and the demands for transformation that, together with other states and millions of world citizens, we ask the United Nations, the Cuban Revolution will always defend the existence of the organization to which we owe the little, but essential multilateralism that survives imperial arrogance. More than once, before this same forum, Cuba has reiterated its willingness to cooperate with the democratization of the UN and with the defense of international cooperation that only it can save. As the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, said, and I quote: “The international community can always count on the sincere voice of Cuba in the face of injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, discrimination and manipulation. ; and for the establishment of a more just and equitable international order, at the center of which the human being, her dignity and well-being are truly located. " End of quote.

Mr. president:

Returning to the seriousness of the current moment, which many attribute only to the COVID-19 pandemic, I consider it essential to warn that its impact far exceeds the health field. Due to its dire consequences, the impressive number of deaths, the damage to the world economy and the deterioration of the levels of social development, the expansion of the epidemic in recent months anguish and despair leaders and citizens of practically all nations. But the multidimensional crisis that it has unleashed clearly demonstrates the profound error of the dehumanized policies imposed at all costs by the dictatorship of the market. Today we are painful witnesses to the disaster to which the irrational and unsustainable system of production and consumption of capitalism has led the world, decades of an unjust international order and the application of a crude and unbridled neoliberalism, which has aggravated inequalities and sacrificed the right to freedom. development of peoples.

Unlike the exclusive neoliberalism, which separates and discards millions of human beings, condemning them to survive on the leftovers of the richest one percent banquet, the COVID 19 virus does not discriminate between one and the other, but its devastating economic impacts and Social policies will be lethal among the most vulnerable, those with the lowest income, the same in the underdeveloped world as in the pockets of poverty of the large industrialized cities.

According to projections by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to the 690 million people who were hungry in 2019, there could be 130 million as a result of the economic recession caused by the pandemic. Studies by the International Labor Organization (ILO) affirm that more than 305 million jobs have been lost and that more than 1.6 billion workers see their livelihoods threatened.

We cannot address COVID-19, hunger, unemployment, and growing economic and social inequality between individuals and between countries as independent phenomena. It is urgent to implement comprehensive policies in which the human being is the priority, and not economic gains or political advantages. It would be criminal to leave yesterday's and today's decisions for tomorrow. It is imperative to promote solidarity and international cooperation to cushion the blow. Only the United Nations, with its universal membership, has the authority and scope to resume the just fight to eliminate the unpayable foreign debt that, aggravated by the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic, threatens the survival of the peoples of the South.

Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at the High Level Meeting of the UNGA to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations

On the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, multilateralism and International Law are threatened by the world's greatest power. The irresponsible conduct of the United States is the greatest danger to international peace and security. It promotes conflicts, unconventional and commercial wars and imposes severe unilateral coercive measures and squanders - in its arms race - essential resources for the sustainable development of our peoples, while refusing to cooperate in the confrontation with the multiple crises generated by the devastating COVID- 19.

The United States is unaware of important agreements on the environment, disarmament, and arms control and abandons international forums such as the World Health Organization, UNESCO, or the Human Rights Council. It would appear that it is at war with the planet, its vital resources and its inhabitants. It prevents a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which this Organization has historically demanded. It proposes the so-called “Deal of the Century”, which threatens the future of the State of Palestine, on the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Denies the people of Puerto Rico the right to self-determination and independence, when the Third International Decade for the Elimination of Colonialism is about to conclude.

It interferes in the internal affairs of dozens of UN member states and threatens those it accuses of influencing its corrupt electoral system. Fear and repeated lies are the new weapons in his dishonest media and disinformation strategy. It breaks the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, by reactivating the Monroe Doctrine.

Against Cuba, it raises its hostility to qualitatively higher levels. It systematically violates the human rights of the Cuban people, by intensifying the economic, commercial and financial blockade and its extraterritorial nature. It is the one that shamelessly attacks our medical cooperation and the governments that legitimately request it, thereby restricting the right to health of other nations; when it is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, which due to irresponsibility and electoral opportunism has cost the lives of almost 200 thousand of its citizens.

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