Members of Cuban civil society, intellectuals, journalists, and students gathered on May 3 in Havana, in a public hearing convened by the Association of Cuban Jurists and the Cuban United Nations Association to discuss the activation of the Helms-Burton Act’s Title III, a law that violates the principle of sovereignty, and seeks to destroy our nation and subordinate it to the power of a foreign government.
The public hearing was held at the Higher Institute of International Relations in the Cuban capital and featured a panel that included Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, former president of the National Assembly; attorney Rodolfo Dávalos; Luis Solá Vila, president of the Cuban Society of Public International Law; and Johana Tablada, deputy general director for the United States at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry.
Professor Solá Vila clarified in his speech that the Helms-Burton Act should be viewed as a whole, “not only Title III, but the complete law, from the first letter to the last.”
He reminded those present that on July 6, 1960, the President of the United States announced the cancellation of Cuba’s sugar quota in that country’s market, a heavy blow to the Cuban economy, based on a single product and dependent on sales to the U.S.
Days later, the administration decreed an oil embargo, and the Revolutionary Government responded to these measures in kind, with nationalizations.
Johana Tablada warned that we are facing a dangerous context, in which the current U.S. government seeks “to cause the greatest possible damage to Cuba in the shortest time possible,” and will not be satisfied with full application of the Helms-Burton.
They need to blame someone for their failures in Venezuela, justify their mistakes, said Tablada: “The battle today in Venezuela is also the battle for Cuba.”
They are in a hurry, they are fighting against time, she said, they use any pretext to “cause the greatest harm.”
The U.S. knows they have everything against them and “cannot break the level of support for Cuba even within the U.S.” she stressed.
She recalled the alleged “sonic attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Cuba, a blatant lie kept alive to attract the attention of the public. In Latin America this lesson has been learned, she added. Fidel, Chávez, Evo, Correa, Cristina, Lula, left a deep mark very difficult to erase, she insisted, adding, “History is on our side.”
Professor Rodolfo Dávalos made it clear that the nationalizations were conducted in full compliance with the law. “What is illegal,” he said, “is an extraterritorial law like the Helms-Burton.”
Lawsuits recently filed in Miami courts may take months to resolve, perhaps years, he explained. Lawyers for the companies targeted are already taking steps to respond.
“Are these courts competent? Can there be an impartial jury in Miami?” asked Gerardo Hernández, decorated Hero of the Republic of Cuba, adding, “I know what I’m talking about,” referring to the trials of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists in that city.
Ricardo Alarcón emphasized the importance of not letting the corporate media impose the agenda, recalling the beginning of the blockade: “Kennedy was said to have started it in 1962, other dates are also cited without much meaning, but the reality is that it began January 1, 1959.”
Alarcón also referred to the thieves who made off with the country’s money in 1959. They are the ones now demanding compensation for the property they left behind in Cuba.
He called on participants to study, to read the Helms-Burton Law in its entirety. “We are a free and sovereign country, and a foreign nation has no right to dictate laws against Cuba,” he emphasized.