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BLOCKADE AND HUMAN DIGNITY (part I)

BLOCKADE AND HUMAN DIGNITY (part I)

By: Prof. Dr. iur. et phil. Alfred de Zayas . 

In this article: blockade, Cuba, United States, human rights, international law. 

On 27 October 2015 the United Nations General Assembly adopted by an affirmative vote of 191 States and two votes against the resolution 70/5, which condemns for the twenty-fourth time the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

Nothing better demonstrates the universal consensus than this resolution rejecting unilateral coercive measures against Cuba and demanding the lifting of the blockade. Despite 24 resolutions, starting with resolution 47/19 of 24 November 1992, the blockade has not been lifted and continues to cause damage to the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights by the population of the Island and many other collateral victims in other countries.

Nothing better demonstrates the solidarity of the world than the report of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, A/71/91 of 21 July 2016, entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” This report of 174 pages contains the statements of numerous governments, information, tables and statistics submitted by organs of the United Nations, like the United Nations Conference forTrade and Development, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. Eloquent proof of consensus and international solidarity.

Nothing undermines the international order more than the repeated failure to implement resolutions of the United Nations and the public display of impunity, contempt for conventions, rules of customary International Law and general principles of law.

Nothing better demonstrates the vitality of the sovereignty of peoples, the right to national identity, social and political culture itself, than the fact that despite 54 years of threats and harassment, the social system of the Island has withstood pressures and maintained a consistent philosophy, which of course can evolve, but only as an expression of the democratic will of the people.

The doctrines of a pioneer of International Law and human rights, the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria, Professor at the University of Salamanca, are worth remembering.  Already in the XVIth century Vitoria maintained the thesis that "All nations have the right to govern themselves and can accept the political regime it wants ...."This Vitorian principle of the right to freedom and sovereignty comes was formulated r centuries before the doctrine of self-determination of peoples became enshrined in the United Nations Charter, in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 and in the 1993 Vienna Declaration.

The United Nations Charter is a universal Constitution, based on fundamental principles such as the sovereignty of states, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the prohibition of interference in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction from the states. The noble purposes of the Organization also include the maintenance of international peace and security and international cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character, which are gravely impeded by unilateral coercive measures

Although the United States and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations in 2015, after more than half a century, the harassment of the island continues as does the prosecution of companies trading with Cuba. According to reports of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Government of the United States, the accumulated value of fines imposed on US and foreign entities for violating the blockade amounts to 14.3 billion dollars. After starting the process of normalization of relations in December 2014 numerous entities have been fined for an aggregate value of 2.8 billion dollars, including the German Commerzbank, PayPal United States and France Crédit Agricole. This illustrates the chilling effect on the business and financial sectors.

Those are damage to businesses, but the impact on the enjoyment of human rights, including the right to development of the Cuban people is considerably more serious. The report of the Secretary-General on the blockade notes that the economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the blockade, considering the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold in the international market, totaled 753,688 million. Although this sum at current prices is set, we learn that the blockade has caused measurable damage by more than 125,873 million dollars.

Under International Law, any violation of law requires repair - ubi jus, ibiremedium. See the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and its predecessor, particularly the Chorzow Factory  1928 ruling.

"... It is a principle of International Law, and even a general conception of law that any violation of a commitment implies an obligation to repair properly; (...) Reparation must, as far as possible, erase all the consequences of the illegal act and reestablish the situation which, in all probability would have existed if that act had not been committed ... "

The United Nations Program for Development explains how the blockade has limited and continues to limit Cuba's access to development credits granted by international financial institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, which continues to reduce the chances of the country to raise funds to provide financial support for its development plans. In the context of updating the economic model of Cuba, the blockade also limits the participation of foreign investors, particularly US companies, in priority economic projects, such as the Special Area Development Mariel. In that sense, the blockade negatively affects investment flows and limits access to regional and global chains value.

The World Health Organization confirms that health is one of the many  sectors that have felt the negative effects of the blockade ... “For the period April 2015-March 2016, the economic impact on the health sector is estimated to have exceeded 482 million, with a cumulati9ve impact of over 2.6 billion United States dollars from the beginning of the embargo to date.  One of the first quantifiable impacts was on the State-owned Comercializadora Servicios Medicos Cubanos, S.A., a Cuban medical services trading company, which estimated losses of $31 million in patient care and academic services."(p. 166)

(to be continued)

 

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