74 UNGA: Remarks by Cuba at the first regular meeting of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS. Adoption of the UNDP Country Programme for Cuba. New York, 4 February 2020

Remarks by H.E. Mr. Oscar León González, Ambassador, Chargé d'Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations at the first regular meeting of the Executive Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS.  Adoption of the UNDP Country Programme for Cuba. New York, 4 February 2020


Mr. President,

I would like to begin by thanking Mr. Luis Felipe López Calva, UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, for the comprehensive and substantive presentation of the Country Programme Document for Cuba for the period 2020-2024.

We appreciate, at the same time, the significance of this segment of the Executive Board, as a framework for further strengthening cooperation for development and achieving sustainable development for the welfare of our peoples.

Mr. President,

The Country Programme Document presented here today is the result of a broad participatory process, under the leadership of the national authorities and in close coordination with the UNDP Resident Representative in our country, and the Resident Coordinator.

The Country Programme Document for Cuba is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework agreed between Cuba and the United Nations System, and was based on the gaps identified in the update of the country situation analysis, conducted by the System entities.

It also responds to the national needs and priorities and to the implementation of Cuba's Strategic Plan for Economic and Social Development until 2030. In addition, it contributes to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development at the national level.

The Document is a reflection of the close cooperation relationship with UNDP and its positive impact on Cuba's sustainable development, among other areas, in terms of scientific and technological capacity building, technology transfer and resource mobilization for sustainable development.

It is also an example of the links that we have developed over the years with friendly countries, cooperation partners, whom we thank for their support in advancing our development priorities.

Mr. President,

We are confident that the new Programme for Cuba will strengthen and relaunch the cooperation projects that we have developed together with UNDP and other actors. It will also contribute to strengthening the operational activities of the United Nations development system, its presence and achievements on the ground.

The proposed Programme contributes to areas such as, economic productivity, protection and rational use of natural resources and ecosystems, tackling climate change and comprehensive management of disaster risk reduction. It also supports the improvement of the accessibility and quality of public services and the social protection and assistance systems, placing emphasis on vulnerable groups and applying a gender and human rights approach.

The document, similarly, promotes a comprehensive approach that links the strengthening of the economic and social sectors, on the basis of higher efficiency. The gender approach and the empowerment of women are addressed in a cross-cutting manner; attention is given to generational issues, capacity building and the promotion of local development. As has been the tradition, South-South and triangular cooperation continues to be boosted.

Mr. President,

Cuba is making continuous efforts to improve the human development of its population, which is evident in the levels of education, health and culture, among other social development indicators achieved to date. Although we continue to show significant progress in the implementation of the SDGs, there are still significant obstacles to overcome.

The intensification of the policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the United States for almost 60 years against Cuba, and the recent activation of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, hinders the implementation of projects of the entities of the UN System and the promotion of sustainable development in Cuba.

Considerations offered by the Office of the Resident Coordinator in Cuba, reflected in the 2019 Report of the Secretary-General on the Blockade, indicate that the restrictions imposed by the blockade cause critical difficulties for the implementation of UN programmes and projects, particularly in the acquisition and purchase of humanitarian and development products, even if they are acquired through multilateral cooperation.

Mr. President,

Cuba regrets and rejects the attempts by the delegation of the United States to politicize the work of the Executive Board, particularly the process of adopting the Country Programme Documents.

This harmful trend jeopardizes the practices and methods of this body, which diverts the attention from what, should be the essence of the discussions in this room: achieving effective development assistance.

Mr. President,

The comments made by the Government of the United States on the 2020-2024 Cuba Country Programme, constitute a new maneuver to thwart international cooperation with Cuba. The United States persists in its objective to bring the Cuban people to their knees by causing hunger and despair and to destroy their political system, chosen in a sovereign manner.

Cuba does not hide the economic problems the country faces as a result, inter alia, of the deformations associated with development and centuries of deformations associated with underdevelopment and centuries of colonialism, neo-colonialism and unjust international economic relations.

Yet, the multimillion dollar economic damage accrued for nearly 60 years indicate that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Government of the United States against Cuba, without a shadow of a doubt, is the main obstacle to Cuba's economic and social development, as well as to the implementation of the National Economic Development Plan and, therefore, to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As a result of the blockade, Cuba must carry out its commercial operations under extremely disadvantageous conditions. Its financial transactions are persecuted with rage and those banks that conduct any type of transaction of funds related to our country are fined.

If Cuba has resisted, if our economy has overcome all these obstacles, it has been due to the heroic resistance of the Cuban people.

In order to achieve the development goals that we have set ourselves, the lifting of the blockade would represent a relief that would allow the Cuban economy and people to fully develop their capacities under normal conditions.

With the foregone income from exports of goods and services and the costs associated with the geographical relocation of the trade, which forces us to have very high inventories in place, GDP would have soared up, at current prices in the last decade, at an average annual rate of about 10%.

Mr. President,

Cuba is confident that the Country Programme that we are adopting today will significantly contribute to maintaining the achievements that are also the fruit of the Revolution and the effort of the Cuban people and will allow us to continue moving towards sustainable development.

Allow me to conclude with Cuba's commitment to the UNDP and to the implementation of the new Country Programme, as a modest contribution to the strengthening of multilateralism and international cooperation.

Thank you very much.