The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequalities of the world we live in and the vulnerability of persons with disabilities. In this context, we reaffirm our commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In order to make the tenets of the Convention a reality, international cooperation towards developing countries must be strengthened; and the application of unilateral coercive measures, which have a serious impact on the rights and quality of life of persons with disabilities, must cease. The unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States against Cuba, contrary to the UN Charter and international law, clearly demonstrates the impact of this policy on persons with disabilities in my country.
For example, the blockade prevents us from acquiring hearing aids with advanced technology, including batteries and spare parts, as well as many alarm equipment for deaf persons, since as a rule, such devices and equipment have more than 10 percent of US components.
On the other hand, between April and December 2020, just in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this policy caused Cuba losses over 3.5 billion dollars, which also affected the capacity to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.
However, despite the blockade, we have continued to make progress in the care of persons with disabilities, particularly in terms of social protection and assistance, access to health care and education, and decent employment. In Cuba, these persons are beneficiaries and empowered actors of the economic and social development, with full governmental support.
The Constitution of the Republic, ratified in 2019, strengthened the rights of these persons, the guarantees for their exercise, and the responsibilities of the State and the society with respect to this group.
Actions to combat COVID-19 in Cuba, both in the health care and socio-economic areas, have taken into account the most vulnerable people, including persons with disabilities, since we have the constitutional mandate and the political decision not to abandon anyone to their fate.
In this regard, in times where an unbridled race to acquire vaccines is unleashed, which as always, developing countries will lose, we advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, without discrimination, in COVID-19 vaccination programs in all countries.