BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – IN his address at the recently-held 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, St. Kitts and Nevis Foreign Affairs Minister, the Hon. Mark Brantley lobbied for Taiwan to have a seat at the UN and called for the embargo against Cuba be lifted.
The theme of the 72nd Session was “Focus on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Living for All”.
Brantley told the Assembly that the theme makes a clarion call not only to strive for peace, but also for a decent life for all, noting that no boy, no girl, man and no woman should be left behind.
“We must work together to reduce poverty and hunger, promote justice and equality, and ensure our people have access to healthcare and economic opportunity. In this global effort we must be inclusive and each and every country must be allowed to play its part. No one nation can do it alone. Human suffering anywhere is human suffering everywhere. We must build partnerships and ensure the contribution of all the populations of this our Planet Earth. All must be allowed to sit at the table of brotherhood and contribute to finding lasting solutions to the problems we face.”
It was from this backdrop that the Foreign Affairs Minister called on world leaders to consider Taiwan a member of the UN and lifting of the embargo against Cuba.
“In this regard, we call on the international community yet again to look at our dear friend Taiwan; this modern country of 23 million people, a country that has had tremendous successes in technology, agriculture, health and renewable energy - a country, which is a model of peace and security.”
Brantley pointed out to the Assembly that St. Kitts and Nevis has experienced firsthand the benefits of partnership with Taiwan.
He continued: “There is much that they can offer and we lose collectively when we seek to isolate and prevent our fellow nations from having a seat at the international table. St. Kitts and Nevis continues its unwavering support for the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to be included in the United Nations and other international agencies. There is much we can learn from Taiwan and we can no longer afford to ignore the voices of their 23 million people.”
With regards to Cuba, Brantley said: “In equal measure, we call yet again for the lifting of the over 50-year embargo against our Caribbean sister Cuba. Mr. President the Cuban people are a noble people who have demonstrated their resilience despite insurmountable odds.
He pointed out that Cuba’s leadership in health and humanitarian assistance to Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America is well known, and that its inhabitants are only asking to be given a fair chance to live their lives in dignity and in peace.
Research has revealed that Taiwan has had a long and dramatic relationship with the United Nations, from being - as the Republic of China (ROC) - one of the founding members of the UN in 1945 to losing its seat at the National Security Council to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1971.
According to a recent article by Alexander Koslov, the main issue with Taiwan’s membership in the UN is based on two seemingly insuperable concerns: “A concept of membership expressed in the Charter of the United Nations, the foundational document on the organization, and the so-called ‘one China’ policy officially accepted by the UN.”
The Charter of the United Nations states that “the membership in the United Nations is open to all peace-loving States that accept the obligations contained in the United Nations Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able to carry out these obligations”.
Koslov pointed out that the operative word is “States, since membership as the ultimate form of participation is indissolubly related to sovereignty - de jure sovereignty, and not de facto, as is presently the case for Taiwan”.
He noted that De facto Taiwan is and has been a sovereign Western-style liberal democracy for decades. “Yet it is cursed by the ‘one China’ policy, which claims that ‘the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China and Taiwan is its inalienable part’. Those who want to have diplomatic relations with the PRC must break ties with the ROC.”
Koslov also stated that as a permanent member of the Security Council, the PRC stipulates that its parts cannot have separate seats or any type of representation within the organization.
“To stimulate cross-Strait dialogue and enhance economic integration, the PRC and ROC (the Kuomintang, more specifically) have come up with terms such as the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ and a ‘loose interpretation’ of ‘one China.’ According to the latter, both parties agree that there is only one entity called ‘China’, but disagree which of the two governments is the legitimate government of the state,” he added.
In Cuba’s case, research has shown that the United States of America had imposed a commercial, economic and financial embargo on the Spanish-speaking country that started in 1958.
The first embargo was imposed on the sale of arms during the Fulgencio_Batista regime on March 14, 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower. And after the Fidel Castro-led government came into power on January 1, 1959 following the overthrow of the Batista regime, the Cuban leader made overtures to the US Government but they were rebuffed.
As a result, Castro began purchasing arms and ammunition from the Soviet Union and, in response, the US had reduced its quota of brown sugar from Cuba to 700, 000 tons. However, the Soviet Union had decided to purchase Cuba’s sugar and it is said that that agreement had further aggravated the Eisenhower administration.
Additionally, Eisenhower had decided to cancel the 700,000-ton sugar import from Cuba and refused to export oil to the island. Here, again, the Soviet Union came to the rescue and started shipping crude oil to Cuba.
Responding to that move, the US imposed its first trade embargo against Cuba, which prohibited the selling of all products to Cuba except food and medicine. This prompted Castro to nationalise all American-owned businesses in Cuba, including the oil refineries, without compensation.
The US Government then extended its embargo to include almost all imports from the US in October 1962. (Case Studies in Economic Sanctions and Terrorism: “US vs. Cuba – Castro 1960 –” Peterson Institute for International Economics - October 2011.)
The US Government had also decided to severe all diplomatic relations with Cuba in January 1961.
Then there was the Bay of Pigs Invasion in April 1961, which was said to have been planned by the Eisenhower administration and executed by President John F. Kennedy.
Following the invasion, Castro had declared Cuba a Marxist and Socialist State and that it was aligned with the Soviet Union. This led to Cuba being expelled from the Organisation of American States on January 21, 1962.
On February 8, 1962 under President Kennedy, the embargo was widened to include all imports of products containing Cuban goods, even if the final product was made or assembled outside of that country.
The embargo was enforced through the following statutes: The Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917; the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961; the Cuban Assets Control Regulations of 1963; the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992; the Helms-Burton Act of 1996; and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. (Amnesty International, September 2009).
All of these events took place during the Cold War era, which was the geographical, ideological and economic struggle between the world’s two superpowers, the USA and the USSR. This Cold War started in 1947 following the end of World War ll and lasted until the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991.
According to a BBC report dated December 17, 2014, headlined 'Obama hails ‘new chapter’ in US-Cuba ties’, “In concert with a prisoner exchange with Cuba, Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced moves on December 17, 2014 to re-establish relations and to loosen travel and economic policies.”
Obama had also announced a review of Cuba’s status as a terrorist state and an intention to ask Congress to remove the embargo entirely.
Reportedly, Cuba had agreed to release 53 political prisoners and to allow Red Cross and UN human-rights investigators access to that country.
And on May 29, 2015, according to the US State Department, “Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism was rescinded.” (Country Reports on Terrorism 2015, Chapter 2. Country Reports: Western Hemisphere Overview. U.S. Department of State. June 4, 2016.)
It is believed by many that apart from the sale of arms, the embargo against Cuba was initiated because of the close ties the leader of the Spanish-speaking country had with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Despite the change in Cuba’s leadership and since the period of dialogue between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, nothing much has been done with regards to the total removal of the embargo.