On October 18, 2017, the UP Center for Integrative Development Studies’ Program on Alternative Development (UPAD) along with the Philippines – Cuba Cultural and Friendship Association hosted Her Excellency, Ibete Fernandez Hernandez, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to Malaysia and the Philippines, in a public forum entitled “End U.S. Blockade Against Cuba”. As the Center’s advocate of non-mainstream and unorthodox development practices, UPAD Co-convenor Dr. Eduardo C. Tadem sees the event as meaningful since Cuba has consistently been at the forefront of promoting and setting examples for alternative development.
Ambassador Fernandez discussed the current situation of the blockade by the United States (also commonly referred to as the Blocque) and how it has affected the Cuban people. The Blocque, so deeply entrenched in the system of law, has obstructed the economic, commercial, and financial development of the Cuban people for over six decades. Trade has taken a backseat due to the tightening financial and extraterritorial dimensions of the blockade policy. The manifestations are most evident in how operations have dwindled in normally functioning and fully operational Cuban banking institutions due to fines being imposed on foreign companies with commercial relations in Cuba. This has likewise deterred international banks from transacting with Cuba for fear of being fined and prosecuted.
The Obama administration enforced several measures aimed at easing the U.S. embargo on Cuba but these have been limited; other numerous restrictions have remained unchanged and significant transactions still cannot be completed. The Blocque, under incumbent President Donald Trump, has been tightened when he signed the National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba. The further tightening of the blockade translates to the prohibition of economic, commercial, and financial transactions of U.S. companies and entities with Cuban companies. There has also been a strengthening of the ban on travel to Cuba, eliminating individual travels under the category of people-to-people exchanges.
Ambassador Fernandez sees the Blocque as the only obstacle for full development and enforcement of human rights in Cuba. It continues to be a massive, flagrant, and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cubans. It is not only an obstacle to international cooperation and a setback in bilateral relations between US and Cuba, it qualifies as an act of genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948.
Cuba has turned to the support of the international community in their legitimate call to end the Blockade. The United Nations (UN) General Assembly on November 1, 2017 adopted a resolution that underscores the need to end the embargo imposed against Cuba, reiterating that UN Member States must “refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures not conforming with their obligations under the UN Charter and international law, which reaffirm freedom of trade and navigation.”
On November 1, 2017, 191 out of 193 UN Member states voted favorably to consider the end of the embargo; only the United States and Israel opposed the resolution.
 UN News Centre (November 1, 2017). “UN General Assembly again calls for lifting US embargo against Cuba.” Accessed November 7, 2017. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58011