Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 9, 2022
The 60th anniversary of the US economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba
February 3 marks the 60th anniversary of the odious phenomenon in modern history, which, unfortunately, has only worsened in recent years, namely, the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba. If previously it was only against Cuba, today sanctions, restrictions and unilateral measures are being imposed by the United States and its “partners and satellites” across the board on multiple countries. Today, I would like to discuss Cuba, which has been living under embargo for 60 years now. A great global power, one of the pillars of the world order, has thus settled accounts with a small country for it wanting to free itself from the colonial grip of its northern neighbour and embark on a path of independent development. Revenge. Exactly the same thing that we are now seeing with regard to Crimea residents who have made their choice. Our country did not turn them away and respectfully accepted their choice. And now they are retaliating with sanctions. There’s nothing new about it.
The entire international community believes that Washington’s anti-Cuban policy is inhumane and illegal. Just think of it: 60 years of sanctions. Then look at the map and compare the size of the United States and that of the island of Cuba. There were the UN General Assembly resolutions, the calls by international public organisations, business circles, and just people with common sense. There were numerous business calculations about self-inflicted damage. At some point there were even hints at common sense prevailing and, on the face of it, nothing seemed to stand in the way of finally embarking on the path of realism. But no such thing. With enviable tenacity worthy of a better cause (not in the sense that sanctions should be imposed on other geographical locations, but in the sense that developing and implementing them in circumvention of the UN Security Council is illegal), throughout decades, almost all US administrations, with an exception only during the “Obama thaw,” stick to the same discriminatory policy with the ever-exacerbating consequences. They are doing so contrary to common sense, in an unscrupulous and hypocritical manner, under the banner of protecting democracy and human rights, and subjugating their every move to domestic political bias and the fleeting and self-serving interests of their “political hawks.”
At the same time, no one in the United States seems to care about the fact that this policy impacts not the Cuban leadership, but ordinary Cubans. It strangles the life-supporting sectors of the economy, creates social problems and deprives these people of those very human rights that the American guardians of global democracy are so worried about in words only. Most interestingly, the economic performance is cited as proof of the inefficiency of the Cuban system. Listen, for 60 years now Cuba has not only survived, but lived and moved forward amid your sanctions. I often wonder what would become of the United States if similar sanctions were imposed on it for at least a year, or even a couple of months. That would be fun to watch. They would not just forget about democracy, there would simply be nothing left of the United States if at least a tenth of these restrictions had been imposed. Then, we would observe the competition of the systems. Washington is unlikely to run the risk of holding this experiment, isn’t it? You know, things like hidden resentment, revenge, delayed decision-making or retribution happen in history. Still, common sense must prevail in humanitarian situations, such as the pandemic. That is exactly what the world has been living through for the third year now.
Notably, many Cubans who live in the United States and other countries of that region have relatives in Cuba who are impacted by the embargo imposed amid the pandemic rather than the theoretical sanctions. However, no one in the United States seems to be worried about that. They are a different kind of “human rights” and do not need to be taken care of. So, instead of uniting efforts in the face of a common challenge and creating some kind of synergy and green corridors, the US authorities did everything the other way round: they tightened the screws by imposing more sanctions on the pharmaceutical industry in Cuba, that very Cuba that helps everyone in the region deal with the impact of the pandemic, and is the first to respond not even to requests, but to developments in neighbouring and outlying countries in connection with emergencies, man-made disasters, etc. Cuban doctors are always among the first responders. Sanctions were imposed on them, and an absurd campaign was unleashed to discredit the assistance that the Cuban health workers are providing to other countries. They even went as far as to call it “human trafficking.” However, in case the United States is unaware of what human trafficking is, we can tell them. It has nothing to do with Cuba whatsoever, and it’s just a flat-out offence.
Cuba is showing amazing fortitude and courage. It is decisively moving forward along a path of independence as it overcomes hardships and difficulties. It is reforming the economy, optimising production and management systems, and improving the efficiency of state regulation. It is promoting fundamental and applied research and development and attaining world-class achievements in medicine and pharmacology. At the same time, it remains politically active in the international arena, upholding its interests and finding ways to help others, as I have already mentioned, remaining a symbol of the struggle against the remnants of the post-colonial world order, and Cuba simply stands for freedom and independence with all its heart and soul.
This 60 year-old history of the anti-Cuban embargo is the history of the Cuban people’s selfless feat, a vibrant expression of national identity, pride and dignity, which have been honourably carried through generations. We pay tribute to the great fortitude of our Cuban friends. We wish them strength, patience, success, good health and we hope that they find a way to overcome the challenges that life has posed to all of us.
Your cause is just, hence the conclusion: you will come out a winner. In this regard, I would like to remind the audience about what Fidel Castro once said, “We must firmly fight against the blockade, since the blockade is the main obstacle to our progress and is more than a ban on trade with Cuba, but also a symbol of pressure that the United States is exerting on the world at large.”