It is time to stop the cruel and illegal blockade against Cuba.

Peter Mertens
Tribunal EP

Speech by Peter Mertens, General Secretary, Workers' Party of Belgium PVDA- PTB

International Tribunal against the Blockade of Cuba, European Parliament, November 16, 2023

peter against cuba blockadeExcellencies, guests, friends, comrades,

I cannot start without talking about Palestine. In front of the eyes of the world media, there's an ethnic cleansing going on. A war of destruction, live on television. "Gaza has become a graveyard for thousands of children. It's a living hell for everyone else," said the spokesperson for UNICEF last week.

Israel's destructive war on Gaza is an attack on everything that international law stands for. Where are the sanctions against the apartheid state of Israel? Where is the military embargo against Israel's war machine? Where is the arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for Netanyahu and the Israeli military leadership?

The United States-Israel war axis thinks it is above all laws and can afford anything. But, dear friends, that same axis is more isolated than ever. This is precisely what Cuba has shown. In the vote at the United Nations General Assembly on November 2, 187 countries unanimously voted to lift the blockade. 187 countries voted in favor of lifting the blockade. Only two countries voted against: the United States and Israel. This is not a coincidence.

Of all the countries in the world, the United States only found Israel to support them against Cuba. Only an apartheid state, which has been enforcing an illegal blockade against Gaza for years, stands with Washington. What moral authority can come from such a vote? Warmongers like the United States and Israel are increasingly isolated and face a growing voice demanding respect for international law and an end to the hypocritical policy of double standards.

The United States has at war against Cuba for 60 years with the longest blockade in modern history. This blockade is illegal, immoral, and criminal. It's not just a blockade against an independent country; it's also a blockade against a proud people defending their sovereignty, and it's a blockade through which the United States tries to undermine a socialist ideal by all possible means.

Behind this criminal blockade and the endless series of sanctions is a regime that is afraid. Washington is afraid of a humane alternative in this sick, war-prone world. That's why they try to strangle tiny Cuba in every possible way.

Washington imposes sanctions on companies or governments that want to invest in Cuba or establish normal trade relations. These U.S. sanction laws are completely illegal, just as their extraterritorial nature is unlawful.

One cannot be sovereign and, at the same time, continue to listen to Washington's orders. Any country claiming to be sovereign should establish its own relationships and not submit to the United States' illegal practices of coercion and punishment. Europe must go its own way and establish full relations with Cuba. The cooperation between the European Union and Cuba is a win-win situation on many levels, including science.

A European regulation, known as the "blocking law," states that "companies are not authorized to apply U.S. laws imposing sanctions, including against Cuba." Banks are therefore not allowed to block transfers to Cuba or apply sanctions. Yet, most Belgian banks do. This must stop, and it can stop.

On this, and many other cases, international experts and witnesses will speak. These are all important testimonies on which the jury can deliver a strong verdict. The ambition of this International Tribunal against the blockade is to help break the deadlock.

It's time for the cruel and illegal blockade to disappear. It's time for Cuba to be removed from the list of states supporting terrorism. It's time for Washington to no longer dictate what sovereign countries can or cannot do. It's time for international law to prevail.

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