US blockade continues to damage the Cuban cultural sector

Here is an extract from Cuba's report to the United Nations prior to the National Assembly vote on 27 October 2016 on the blockade.

2.2. The Right to Education, Sports and Culture"In these objectives and goals we exhibit a vision of the future that is extremely ambitious and transforming. We aspire to a world (…) where literacy is universal, with equitable and universal access to quality education at all levels…" *

Universal, equitable and free access to quality education for all Cubans has always been a priority of the Cuban Revolution. For that reason, the Government must guarantee full enjoyment of this right as Article 39 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba establishes.

The Cuban government annually sets aside an amount of financial and human resources to be able to guarantee this right. But these efforts have been directly affected by the effects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States. In the period being analyzed, the Sector of Education has had to spend large sums of financial resources because it was impossible to acquire the essential equipment, in the U.S. market, for carrying out the educational processes.

Just because of the geographical relocation of commerce, the Ministry of Education of Cuba suffered losses of $1,245,000 in the period.

The blockade against Cuba also imposes severe adverse effects on the development of Sports. Next, will be shown some examples of the way this sector has been affected:

 The National Sport and Physical Education Institute (INDER) cannot buy sports equipment in the United States that carry the trade names of Louisville, Wilson, Xbat, Rawlings, Atec, and 3N2 for baseball and softball; and Easton and W&W for archery in spite of the fact that these articles are mandatory according to official regulations of international federations. For this reason, INDER has had to import this sports equipment from a third country, thereby resulting in an increase of 20 to30 percent on its real prices. Steps were taken through a Spanish company to purchase a Hobie Cat 16 sailboat; whose price, if it had been bought would have been 30 percent greater. This process could not be materialized and it affected the training of the athletes in that discipline because they lacked equipment.

 The Cuban anti-doping laboratory reported that in June of 2016, OFAC withheld biological samples coming from a group of Peruvian athletes from being sent to the Island, transiting through the U.S. The samples were sent by the Peruvian Sports Institute to be analyzed at this Cuban lab, using the DHL company of Germany. Because of the application of the blockade policy, the lab which is a first-class center in Latin America in the fight against doping in sports could not obtain the economic benefits of analyzing the Peruvian samples.

The Cuban Revolution has maintained among its priorities the dissemination and promotion of culture as a vital element for the education and development of Cuban citizens. But the blockade continues to set up obstacles for the Culture Sector's scope and for the development of the country's cultural heritage. In just the period being analyzed, said policy has caused $29,483,800 dollars. The U.S. market could be the principal source of supplies for a significant group of rawmaterials, materials, tools and equipment with which the country's artists, artisans and designers work if the blockade did not exist. But these products have to be imported by Cuban institutions from third countries, thereby involving prices that are up to 40 percent higher.

Next, some examples of the negative impact of the blockade on the development ofCuban culture:

 The present academic year (September 2015 to June 2016) has an enrollment of 414 students at the elementary level in the specialty of string instruments such as the bass, violin, cello and viola. The system of culture in Cuba guarantees that each of these students has an instrument for their courses. The price of a Palatino VN350 Campus ViolinOutfit – 1/2 violin is $79 in the U.S. But Cuban authorities have to buy similar instruments in a third country for $215 each. If this instrument could be acquired in the United States, Cuba would be saving some $56,300.

 During the period analyzed, the Ministry of Culture was immersed in the restoration of the Alicia Alonso Gran Teatro de la Habana, among other projects. The amount spent to buy the materials needed for these projects in third countries totaled $672,300. If there had been access to materials on the U.S. market, with just a price reduction of up to 15 percent, the country could have saved approximately some $100,800.

*Paragraph 7 of the document "Transforming Our World: Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development", approved by the Heads of State and Government at the UN Summit for the 70th Anniversary of the Organization, September 2015.

Extracted from CUBA’S REPORT On Resolution 70/5 of the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” June 2016