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Cablegate: Instructions for Cuba Embargo Resolution

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DE RUEHC #5034 3030255
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O 290246Z OCT 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 0000
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RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE IMMEDIATE 0000
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UNCLAS STATE 115034

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: UNGA ETRD PHUM UN CU
SUBJECT: INSTRUCTIONS FOR CUBA EMBARGO RESOLUTION

1. The Department instructs USUN to vote against the
resolution, "Necessity of Ending the Economic,
Commercial, and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United
States of America against Cuba," scheduled for
consideration by the UN General Assembly on Wednesday,
October 29. USUN should draw on the following points in
making its intervention during the debate.

2. Begin points:

-- Mr. President:

-- Our position on this resolution is well known. Each
of the member states of this organization has the
sovereign right to conduct its trade with another
country as it sees fit subject only to the treaty
obligations it has freely undertaken. As a bilateral
issue relating to the efforts of the United States to
mitigate the impact of the Cuban government's repressive
policies toward its own people, we believe it is highly
inappropriate that the UN General Assembly consider this
resolution. As we have noted in the past, many other
states or regional groups at various times have taken
action to restrict their exports to and imports from
other states for a variety of reasons. There is no
doubt that members states represented here today would
vigorously defend their right to determine their own
national trade policy if it were called into question.

-- Cuba asserts that economic sanctions imposed by the
United States on the Cuban government cause serious
damage to the welfare of the Cuban people. In fact, as
we have conclusively demonstrated since the General
Assembly first began debating this resolution in 1992,
U.S. trade policy toward Cuba is carefully designed to
permit the Cuban people access to food and humanitarian
goods, but to limit the ability of Cuba's repressive
government to benefit and consolidate power through its
authoritarian control over the Cuban economy. Our trade
policy above all seeks to keep away from Cuba's leaders
resources that they would use to strengthen their
repressive political and economic system.

-- Indeed, the American people remain the largest
providers of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people. In
2007, the American people provided $240.5 million in
private humanitarian assistance in the form of gift
parcels filled with food and other basic necessities
($179.4 million), non-agricultural humanitarian
donations ($20.6 million), and medical donations ($40.5
million).

-- In addition to offering U.S. Government assistance,
the U.S. has increased existing authorizations for U.S.-
based NGOs to provide larger amounts of humanitarian
assistance, including in the form of cash donations, to
help address the basic needs of the Cuban people. We
have already authorized over $10 million in private cash
donations.

-- This year, the United States has been especially
sensitive to the plight of the Cuban people in light of
the devastation wrought by hurricanes throughout the
Caribbean. Cuba has suffered great damage from
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike since the end of August. Some
assistance has been delivered through non-governmental
relief and humanitarian organizations, but more is
needed to help the Cuban people, and under these
extraordinary circumstances the U.S. Government stands
ready to provide that assistance. The U.S. Government
has offered - on four separate occasions - to provide
the Cuban people with up to $5 million in emergency
humanitarian assistance to those in dire need.

-- On September 3, 2008 the U.S. Government issued a
disaster declaration in response to the damage caused by
Hurricane Gustav and made available $100,000 in cash
relief assistance to humanitarian organizations working
in Cuba. The U.S. Government also offered to provide a
humanitarian assessment team to assist in producing
rapid emergency assessments of health, sanitation,
water, shelter and food supply. That offer was rejected
by the Cuban government.

-- In the wake of the damage caused by Hurricane Ike,
the U.S. Government set aside an additional $200,000 for
non-governmental relief organizations, and reiterated
our offer to provide a humanitarian assessment team.
Again, the Cuban government rejected our offer.

-- On September 13, 2008 the U.S. Government offered a
relief package of roughly $5 million that included an
unconditional offer of humanitarian assistance to
benefit 135,000 Cuban hurricane victims and continued
assistance to non-governmental relief organizations.
For the third time, the Cuban government rejected our
offer.

-- On September 19, 2008 the U.S. Government offered
unconditionally to provide relief supplies directly to
the Government of Cuba at a value of approximately $5
million. These supplies are composed of family
emergency shelters and household kits which could assist
up to 48,000 Cubans affected by the hurricanes. The
Cuban government has not responded to this offer of
assistance.

-- As is well known, U.S. law permits the sale of
medicine, medical supplies and agricultural products to
Cuba. The United States is Cuba's top supplier of food.
U.S. producers exported $446 million in agricultural
products to Cuba in 2007. Since Hurricane Ike struck
Cuba on September 7, the U.S. has licensed $396 million
in agricultural sales to Cuba. Lumber, an important
reconstruction material, is included within this
category of agricultural sales. The United States has
authorized $53 million in humanitarian donations by U.S.
entities to hurricane victims, including building
materials to help storm victims to repair their homes.
We have also authorized gift parcel consolidators to
export $124 million in gift parcels to Cuba.

-- Despite this clear demonstration of U.S. interest in
the welfare of the Cuban people, Cuban officials,
including their Chief of Mission in Washington Jorge
Bolanos, continue to make outrageous statements about
the nature of U.S. sanctions. It is indicative of the
lack of interest the Castro regime has in the well-being
of its own people that it would refuse sincere offers of
assistance, choosing instead to prolong their suffering
as a pretext for proposing resolutions such as the one
we vote on today.

-- In conclusion Mr. President, let me remind this
assembly that the real reason the Cuban economy is in
terrible condition and that so many Cubans remain mired
in poverty, is that Cuba's regime continues to deny its
people their basic human and economic rights. Indeed,
one Latin American observer once described Cuba as an
"undeveloping" country thanks to the policies of the
Castro regime that have turned it from one of the
region's most prosperous economies to one of the
poorest. We again invite the member states, as we have
done consistently in debating this resolution in past
years, to reject the false arguments of the Cuban
government and focus on effecting a transition in Cuba
that would restore its people's fundamental rights.

End points.
RICE

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