NZ Government confirms opposition to Blockade

Cuba has the right to preserve its sovereignty and independence

 Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the New Zealand government’s opposition to the illegal blockade of Cuba.

Minister Peters in replying to Jen Olsen, Coordinator of the Dunedin Branch NZ CFS, noted that New Zealand had consistently opposed the embargo against Cuba at the U.N and would welcome ‘all steps towards normalisation, including lifting the embargo”.

Jen had contacted Peters seeking the Governments endorsement of a Declaration Rejecting the Escalation of the U.S. Economic War against Cuba

Initiated by the South Island Friendship Societies the declaration has now been endorsed by the CFS groups.  
Auckland CFS members picketing the US Consulate 
Also offering support have been several other groups and individuals including former MP Matt Robson, Prof Jane Kelsey and Robert Reid President, FIRST Union. Palestinian solidarity group Tauranga Moana 4 Palestine noted that Cuba has as always supported the Palestine struggle and reciprocity at this time was more than appropriate. 

Others supporting the opposition to the embargo on include WISSE and the Alliance.

Leima Martínez Freire, Director Asia Pacific Desk at Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP),  in acknowledging the support from Aotearoa noted that “actions to demand the ending of the interventionist policies that US is trying to impose are the best example that Cuba is not isolated”. Cuba, she said, has the right to preserve its sovereignty and independence.

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US Coalition Condemns Restrictions on Freedom to Travel

Restricting Americans'' freedom to travel is an attack on our fundamental rights as citizens, a US coalition stressed on Tuesday after the Trump administration announced further restrictions on visits to Cuba.

Engage Cuba, a group that seeks the end of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade against the island in force for 60 years, criticized in a statement the new measures of Donald Trump's administration to 'severely limit the capacity of Americans' to travel to the neighbouring nation.

James Williams, president of the coalition, stated that the federal government should not monitor the places where US citizens are going on vacation, and considered that citizens' freedom should not be used as a tool by politicians on behalf of 'a naked partisanship'.

Also, the official set out that the news on Tuesday is harmful to the Cuban people, especially for the growing private sector of the island, whose income come in part from US travellers.

'Cubans should not be used as political pawns. They are human beings,' added Williams, who described the siege imposed on the island as morally and strategically wrong.

A statement from the State Department sought to justify the new restrictions alleging these controversial steps seek to prevent US travellers from 'enriching Cuba's military, security and intelligence services,' and returned to link such actions with the solidarity that Cuba maintains toward Venezuela and the constitutional government of Nicolas Maduro.

These prohibitions are directly linked to the tourism industry, arguing that this sector 'has served to fill the pocket of the Cuban military.'

Thus, it does not allude to the fact that the educational trips under the people to people policy, which facilitated hundreds of thousands of Americans to visit the island, has been a great boost for workers in the private sector of Cuba.

 Courtesy of Prensa Latina 

New Zealand Cuba Friendship Society adopts

Declaration Rejecting the Escalation of the U.S. Economic War Against Cuba

Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, called on to add the  Governments endorsement of the Declaration

The Declaration, based on a similar call adopted by the Australian CFS’s calls on the U.S. government to end the illegal, unjust, and immoral blockade, and to pay reparations to Cuba in recognition of the US$134 billion of damages that have been caused by the blockade.

Jen Olsen, Coordinator of the Dunedin Branch NZ CFS, has contacted Foreign Minister Winston Peters seeking the Governments endorsement of the Declaration*, while other Branches are contacting local MP’s as well as unions and progressive organisations seeking their support.

Under Obama, there was an improvement in Cuba-US relations, but the current US government are activating the controversial Title 111 of the Helms-Burton Act, which allows legal action in the US against anyone who invests in Cuba. 

This is intended to further damage the Cuban economy,which has already suffered from over fifty years of economic blockade.

"Canada, the EU, China and Russia have all opposed Title 111" noted Jen in a media release, "I believe New Zealand should publicly stand by Cuba and I have asked Mr Peters to endorse our Declaration, which asks the Government to protect New Zealand investments in Cuba and advocate internationally for the end of the Cuban blockade".

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* at the time of posting Jen had received acknowledgment of receipt but no formal reply from the minister 

UN expert:

US Sanctions Violate Human Rights and International Code of Conduct

An independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council has expressed deep concern at the recent imposition of unilateral coercive measures on Cuba, Venezuela and Iran by the United States, saying the use of economic sanctions for political purposes violates human rights and the norms of international behaviour. Such action may precipitate man-made humanitarian catastrophes of unprecedented proportions.

“Regime change through economic measures likely to lead to the denial of basic human rights and indeed possibly to starvation has never been an accepted practice of international relations,” said Idriss Jazairy, the UN Special Rapporteur concerned with the negative impact of sanctions. “Real concerns and serious political differences between governments must never be resolved by precipitating economic and humanitarian disasters, making ordinary people pawns and hostages thereof.

The implementation of Title III of the Helms Burton Act – allowing U.S. citizens to file lawsuits against Cuban entities and foreign companies over property seized and used following Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution – ignored protests by the European Union and Canada and was a direct attack on European and Canadian companies in Cuba, where they are the top foreign investors.

“The resort by a major power of its dominant position in the international financial arena against its own allies to cause economic hardship to the economy of sovereign States is contrary to international law, and inevitably undermines the human rights of their citizens,” the Special Rapporteur said.

On 17 April the United States banned the Central Bank of Venezuela from conducting transactions in US dollars after 17th May, and will cut off access to US personal remittances and credit cards by March 2020.

“It is hard to figure out how measures which have the effect of destroying Venezuela’s economy, and preventing Venezuelans from sending home money, can be aimed at ‘helping the Venezuelan people’, as claimed by the US Treasury,” the expert said.

His statements follow claims in a recent report published by the Washington-based Centre for Economic and Policy Research that 40,000 people may have died in Venezuela since 2017 because of US sanctions.

Jazairy also said he was concerned the US would not renew waivers for international buyers of Iranian oil, despite protests from NATO ally Turkey, among others. Washington has demanded that all remaining States which benefited from waivers stop purchases on May 1, or face sanctions.

“The extraterritorial application of unilateral sanctions is clearly contrary to international law,” the expert said. “I am deeply concerned that one State can use its dominant position in international finance to harm not only the Iranian people, who have followed their obligations under the UN-approved nuclear deal to this day, but also everyone in the world who trades with them.

“The international community must come together to challenge what amounts to blockades ignoring a country’s sovereignty, the human rights of its people, and the rights of third countries trading with sanctioned States, all while constituting a threat to world peace and security.

“I call on the international community to engage in constructive dialogue with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and the United States to find a peaceful resolution in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations before the arbitrary use of economic starvation becomes the new ‘normal’.”

UN expert: Mr. Idriss Jazairy (Algeria) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the first Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of the unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights. He took office in May 2015. Mr. Jazairy has extensive experience in the fields of international relations and human rights with the Algerian Foreign Ministry, the UN human rights system and international NGOs. He holds a M.A. (Oxford) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and an M.P.A. (Harvard). He also graduated from the Ecole nationale d’Administration (France). Mr. Jazairy is the author of books and many articles in the international press on development, human rights and current affairs.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Courtesy CubaSi

Call for the international community to reject the escalation of US economic war against Cuba

Cuba condemns in the most categorical terms the recent hostile escalation of the United States government against Cuba. The measures announced on April 17th reflect the ongoing and declared commitment of the current US government to damage bilateral relations and expand its unilateral and illegal sanctions against Cuba.

These are actions that expand the economic and commercial blockade that has been in place for almost six decades. Almost unanimously, member States of the United Nations have repeatedly call for an end of this policy.

Based on the strictest application of the Helms-Burton Act, they are aimed at further reducing the very limited commercial exchange between the two nations and specifically attacking the Cuban financial sector. They pursue, with a strong extraterritorial claim, to harm entities and entrepreneurs from third countries and threaten them with legal retaliations or denial of visas to them and their families to enter the United States if they exercise their legitimate right to develop business and investment relations with Cuba.

They also seek to limit the ties of Cuban residents in the United States with their country of origin and to cut as much as possible personal contacts between the citizens of the two countries. Restrict the amount of the remittances and possibilities for U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.

In 1996, Cuba adopted a law that, among other principles, declared illegitimate the Helms-Burton Act, and ensured the protection of foreign entrepreneurs and investors. The economic blockade as a whole and the Helms-Burton Act in particular, have been rejected by the international community in multiple international and regional fora. There are clear and repeated pronouncements by the UN, the CELAC, the AU, the EU, the ACP group, the ACS, just to mention a few.

However, the effects of this legislation and the economic blockade as a whole are increasingly damaging Cuba's economic and commercial relations with third countries. In several of them, Cuba is faced with serious limitations to carry out financial transactions, to obtain credits or to make use of the banking system, regardless of the nature of the bilateral political relationship and the position of the Government with regard to these illegitimate measures of the United States Government.

Those who promote these actions have committed the current US government with an aggressive policy towards Cuba. They have openly stated that among their objectives is to "reverse the consequences of the disastrous policies of the Obama era" and impose a regime change on the Cuban people.

They are individuals with a long history of promoting extreme and aggressive positions in U.S. foreign policy, and used to the unscrupulous and abundant use of lying to promote specific interests. They clearly express contempt for international law, the recognized practices governing international relations, and the rules and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

The actions and measures announced will have an undeniable economic effect on the Cuban economy, on the development potential of the country and on the living standards of the population. However, they will not stop Cuba's continued development towards a more fair, prosperous and sustainable society. Nor will they lead to any political concessions of the strong will of the Cuban people to defend national sovereignty against the belligerent approach of the United States.

Cuba calls for the rejection of the international community to this new escalation of the blockade and the hostility of the United States against the Cuban people. It also calls for solidarity in the face of attempts to extend the blockade to the jurisdiction of countries with which it develops normal, friendly and cooperation-based bilateral relations. It expresses its willingness to contribute to, as a whole, to protect in a legal and political way the interests of companies, entities and individuals in any country that legitimately  develop commercial and investment relations with Cuba.
Media Release NZ Cuban. Monday, April 29th 2019


CUBA Though Kiwi Eyes

Responding to the Mosque Massacres

Standing Against White Supremacism & Terrorism

A media report from Tuesday night’s meeting, sponsored by   Canterbury Progressive Network and EcuAction, can be found here

A video of the meeting itself is here

Donate to the victims and families
The New Zealand Islamic Information Centre has set up a crowdfunding campaign on Launchgood (a crowdfunding platform for Muslim people) with all funds raised distributed to the victims and families affected by the Christchurch attack. All proceeds will go towards helping with their immediate, short-term needs. 
The New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups has also set up a crowdfunding campaign on Givealittle. Victim Support says it will use all donations received to the page to provide support and resources for people affected by the Christchurch shootings and their family members. This one has already raised $3 million from everyday New Zealanders, which I think is a bright spot in an otherwise very dark time.

Responses to the attack

Background to the attack