Ambassador Paul Folmsbee
Senior Advisor for Western Hemisphere Affairs
New York, New York
November 2, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you members of the General Assembly.
The United States stands resolutely with the Cuban people. We strongly support their pursuit of a future with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Approximately 1,000 political prisoners remain behind bars in Cuba – more than at any point in Cuba’s recent history. Nearly 700 of those detentions owe to the historic July 11, 2021, protests during which members of civil society including human rights defenders, as well as minors of age, exercise their freedom of expression and right of peaceful assembly. We share the Cuban people’s dream of democracy in Cuba and join international partners in calling for the Cuban government to immediately release all those unjustly detained.
Despite Cuba’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council, the Cuban government has delayed responding to requests to send independent experts to Cuba, who would help advance respect for human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, or belief, and the freedom to assemble peacefully. Some of these requests have remained pending for 10 years.
Sanctions are one set of tools in our broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. We therefore oppose this resolution.
We recognize the challenges the Cuban people face. That is why U.S. sanctions include exemptions and authorizations relating to the exports of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Cuba.
The United States remains a significant source of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners. In 2002* alone, U.S. companies exported over $295 million worth of agricultural goods to Cuba, including food, to help meet the needs of the Cuban people.
The United States opposes this resolution. We encourage this body to urge the Cuban government to adhere to its human rights obligations and listen to the Cuban people and their aspirations to determine their own future.
Thank you, Mr. President.