The flag of Cuba. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency/ANA
The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the government of the US against Cuba for six decades is the most unfair, severe and longest-enduring system of unilateral sanctions ever applied against any country.

The blockade violates the UN Charter and international law.

It is the principal obstacle to the growth of the Cuban economy. It constitutes a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of the Cuban people. It transgresses on the sovereign rights of many other states because of its extra-territorial nature. In its essence and by its objectives, the blockade is an act of unilateral aggression.

Due to its stated purpose and direct effects, the blockade qualifies as an act of genocide, pursuant to Article 2 of the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948.

According to a declassified State Department memo of 1960, the objective of the blockade against Cuba was textually quoted as follows: “creating disillusionment and discouragement through economic dissatisfaction and hardship weakening the economic life by denying money and supplies to Cuba in order to reduce nominal and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow the government.” The accumulated damages because of the blockade total $933678000000 taking into account the depreciation of the dollar in terms of the price of gold in the international market.

At current prices, the blockade has caused damages that can be calculated at over $134499800000.

The US has the obligation to make economic reparations for the damage caused to the Cuban people.

With the inauguration of Donald Trump, the government of the US caused a serious setback to the bilateral relations with Cuba and the blockade against the island has intensified.

New measures are applied to restrict even further the right of Americans to travel to our country and to impose additional obstacles on the limited opportunities of the American business community in Cuba.

The intensification in 2018 of the extra-territorial application of the blockade has unleashed the irrational persecution by the US government of Cuban commercial and financial transactions, with reprisals against business people and banking and financial entities having ties with Cuba.

The tightening of the blockade has been accompanied by aggressive, menacing, disrespectful rhetoric and conditions coming from the most senior levels of the US government.

President Trump’s policy of economic and financial harassment seeks to satisfy his political commitments with the extreme anti Cuban right-wing in Florida and it ignores the support of the majority in American public opinion, in the international community and among Cuban immigrants in the US, to lift the blockade and normalise relations between the two countries.

Cuba has reiterated its willingness to maintain a respectful dialogue and co-operation on topics of mutual interest with the US government.

We are convinced that the two countries can co-operate and coexist in a civilised manner, respecting our differences and promoting everything that benefits both nations and peoples.

But it should not be expected that, in order to achieve that, Cuba would make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence, or accept preconditions of any sort.

Any strategy aimed at changing the political, economic and social system in Cuba, either through pressures and impositions or by using more subtle methods, shall be doomed to failure.

We know that the way ahead is long and difficult, but the Cuban people’s capacity of resistance to the aggressions of any type has been proven over six decades.

The US must unilaterally and unconditionally end the blockade against our country, which has no international support. In its obsession to isolate Cuba, the US has isolated itself.

Every year since 1992, nations of the world have voted in favour of a Cuban resolution demanding the end of the blockade, with only the US and Israel still supporting that policy.

Next October 31, that resolution will be voted again at the UN General Assembly.

We are deeply grateful to the international community, including to the government of South Africa, ANC-led alliance, other revolutionary and progressive organisations and the South African people in general, for demanding the end to the blockade, which will never prevent the Cuban people from defending our sovereignty and right to freely choose our own future.

Benítez Verson is the ambassador of Cuba to South Africa, Eswatini and Lesotho