‘Cuba needs no lessons from the US about democracy’

November 21, 2022

Below are major excerpts from the reply by Yuri Gala, Cuba’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, to the speech by U.S. representative John Kelley after the Nov. 3 U.N. vote condemning Washington’s economic war on Cuba.

 Mr. Chairman:

In his speech, the representative of the U.S. government stated they are concerned about the Cuban people. How can his government justify having used the COVID-19 pandemic to reinforce its inhumane blockade against Cuba and prevent us from access to treatments and the purchase of raw materials to produce our own vaccines, pulmonary ventilators and even medical oxygen?

If the U.S. government was really interested in the well-being, human rights and self-determination of Cubans, it would lift the blockade and join with us in international cooperation.

It’s false to say that people who demonstrated peacefully on July 11, 2021, [when several thousand people across the island took to the streets to express frustration over the economic crisis — editor] were arrested, tried or repressed. Those who committed crimes as part of these disturbances were prosecuted, respecting all their legal rights, in a lawful and transparent manner. No one has been prosecuted for expressing their opinion.

It is unacceptable that they point a finger at us out for upholding our constitutional order, when in this very country more than 800 people have been arrested for the Jan. 6, 2021, disturbances in Congress. Is the United States the only country in the world with the right to defend its institutions?

Like any other country, we are not going to allow the law to be broken or subverted at the service of a foreign agenda of changing the regime, constitutional order and political system that we Cubans have freely chosen. We will continue to strengthen our legal and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights, including the right of association, while ensuring the strict application of, and respect for, our laws.

In a desperate attempt to justify its hostility to Cuba, the United States distorts the issue of the arrests, focusing on minors. Under no circumstances does Cuba charge minors under 16 years of age with criminal responsibility.

The only arbitrary arrests and long periods of prison confinement that occur on Cuban territory are those carried out by the United States government at the Guantánamo Naval Base.

The representative of a country whose electoral campaigns have no ethical limits and which promote hatred, division, selfishness, slander, racism, xenophobia and lies — and in which money and corporate interests define who will be elected or not — cannot speak of elections and democracy.

Cuba does not need lessons on democracy and human rights, much less from the United States … especially when they are used to justify the longest and most comprehensive system of unilateral coercive measures ever applied against any state.

The U.S. government should be concerned about its population below the poverty level, its repressive policy against migrants, the repression of minorities and reproductive rights, lack of gender equality, the racism and discrimination against people of African descent, police brutality, more than 1,000 deaths a year from police shootings.

The United States is the only country that is not a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the only one where children under 18 years of age are sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The U.S. delegation is lying when it cites extremely high figures for U.S. exports and humanitarian aid to our country. It cynically includes the multimillion-dollar funds that the United States Agency for International Development allocates to subversion in Cuba, as well as the packages that Cuban émigrés send to their families with great effort, or the modest donations that, overcoming numerous obstacles, are sent by non-governmental organizations.

Mr. Chairman, I conclude my remarks in exercise of the right of reply by reiterating a statement made just a few days ago by the Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and I quote:

“We have firmly and creatively confronted the application of the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade by the United States, intensified in an opportunistic manner during the time that we faced the pandemic.

“No obstacle will undermine our determination to resist, fight and win!”