US embargo on Cuba affects all sectors, all Cubans -- Ambassador

The US embargo against Cuba, which was officially imposed in February 1962, has affected all sectors on the island nation as well as the country's over 11 million population for almost six decades.

More than 70 per cent of the population has been living under the embargo since they were born, said Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia Ibete Fernández Hernández.

The envoy said the embargo has, among others, affected Cuba's ability to produce its own medicine and limited its access to advanced medicine and suppliers.

"Cuba produces most of the drugs. But there are many still that we need to buy abroad, including the raw material to produce these drugs in Cuba.

"Because of the sanctions, it has been difficult for Cuba to fulfill that need. For example, children suffering from cancer, they sat at the hospital waiting for the cytostatics because we don't produce it in Cuba," she told Bernama International News Service recently.

The blockade also affects its education sector, including for special needs children.

According to ‘Cuba's Report Against the Blockade’ released in July this year, damages caused by the 57-year blockade amounts to US$922.63 billion.

The report also stated that the prohibitions caused, among others, access to the Smart Brailler machines (a learning tool) being denied to those in need as they are manufactured and sold in the US.

The ambassador said the embargo has been painful for Cubans, especially new measures which cause oil shortages.

"Imagine, a country almost paralysed because there was almost nil fuel to turn on lights. It creates problems. We have money to buy fuel but the ships cannot come to our shores. How are we going to survive" she said.

Hernández said the United Nations, for the past 27 years, had adopted an annual resolution calling for an end to the embargo on Cuba.

The last vote in 2018 saw a recorded vote of 189 in favour to two against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.

The same resolution will be presented for the 28th time at the UN on Nov 6-7 this year.

"We are thankful to Malaysia because they have been supporting Cuba against the blockade. Each and every one of these resolutions has been approved against the blockade, Malaysia has been supporting it," she said.

The US, in 2014 under then-President Barack Obama, modified the application of sanctions which allow for more exchanges.

In 2017, the Trump administration had reversed the decision and introduced new sanctions to Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

Helms-Burton Act a direct attack on Cuba's sovereignty

The Helms-Burton Act, a United States (US) federal law which came into full application on May 2, is a desperate step by the country as well as a direct attack on Cuba's sovereignty and its political and economic system.

In a statement to Bernama International News Service here today, Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia Ibete Fernandez Hernandez said Title III of the 1996 Act proposes that persons claiming holdings that were nationalised or expropriated in Cuba, including persons who at that time were not American citizens, must be protected.

“Title three pursues the internationalisation of the blockade by creating uncertainty and discourage foreign companies from doing business with Cuba. In short, it is a North American law that claims to have an effect outside its borders and (which) legally it cannot,” she said.

Hernandez said Cuba – assisted by international law and the Constitution of 1940 – legitimises the nationalisation of properties in 1959 and 1960 due to popular demand and the need to restructure the property relations on the island, which fulfills part of the programme of the Revolution.

Each act of nationalisation included an act of compensation as is the international practice, but the United States refused to accept the compensation, she said.

She stressed that other countries such as France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Canada and Spain were compensated and their businesses flourish in Cuba to this day.

“Cuba is not a threat to the world. For 60 years it has suffered all kinds of aggression and the longest blockade in history. We thank Malaysia for its position against unilateral measures and for having accompanied us all these years. We need more solidarity from everyone.

“The world cannot remain idle while (certain countries) attack other people simply because they do not profess the same values and ideologies. Cuba is convinced that a better world is possible, based on the respect for the differences, integrity and sovereignty,” she added.

  • Published in Cuba

MH370 Experts Think They've Finally Solved The Mystery Of The Doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight

All but one of the 239 people on the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had probably been unconscious - incapacitated by the sudden depressurization of the Boeing 777 - and had no way of knowing that they were on an hours-long, meandering path to their deaths.

Along that path, a panel of aviation experts said Sunday, was a brief but telling detour near Penang, Malaysia, the hometown of Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah.

On two occasions, whoever was in control of the plane - and was probably the only one awake - tipped the craft to the left.

The experts believe Zaharie, the plane's pilot, was taking a final look.

That is the chilling theory that the team of analysts assembled by Australia's "60 Minutes" have posited about the final hours of MH370.

They suspect that the plane's 2014 disappearance and apparent crash was a suicide by the 53-year-old Zaharie - and a premeditated act of mass murder.

But first, the experts said, they believe Zaharie depressurized the plane, knocking out anyone aboard who wasn't wearing an oxygen mask. That would explain the silence from the plane as it veered wildly off course: no mayday from the craft's radio, no final goodbye texts, no attempted emergency calls that failed to connect.

That would also explain how whoever was in control had time to maneuver the plane to its final location.

The wreckage has not been found, though hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into the four-year search. The secret of what happened in the final moments of the ill-fated flight - and the motive behind it all - probably died with its passengers and pilot.

But the "60 Minutes" team - which included aviation specialists, the former Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief in charge of investigating MH370's crash and an oceanographer - put forth what they believe is the most likely theory.

"The thing that gets discussed the most is that at the point where the pilot turned the transponder off, that he depressurized the airplane, which would disable the passengers," said Larry Vance, a veteran aircraft investigator from Canada. "He was killing himself. Unfortunately, he was killing everyone else onboard. And he did it deliberately."

Zaharie's suspected suicide might explain an oddity about the plane's final flight path: that unexpected turn to the left.

"Captain Zaharie dipped his wing to see Penang, his home town," Simon Hardy, a Boeing 777 senior pilot and instructor, said on "60 Minutes."

"If you look very carefully, you can see it's actually a turn to the left, and then start a long turn to the right. And then [he does] another left turn. So I spent a long time thinking about what this could be, what technical reason is there for this and, after two months, three months thinking about this, I finally got the answer: Someone was looking out the window."

"It might be a long emotional goodbye," Hardy added. "Or a short emotional goodbye to his home town."

Flight 370 disappeared March 8, 2014, shortly after leaving Kuala Lumpur, with 239 people aboard who believed they were bound for Beijing.

The craft is thought to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean.

The governments of Malaysia, China and Australia called off the official search in January 2017. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's final report said authorities were no closer to knowing the reasons for the plane's disappearance or the exact location of its wreckage.

But the "60 Minutes" experts tried to answer one of the biggest questions surrounding the flight: How could a modern aircraft tracked by radar and satellites simply disappear?

Because, they say, Zaharie wanted it to. And the veteran pilot, who had nearly 20,000 hours of flight experience and had built a flight simulator in his home, knew exactly how to do it.

For example, at one point, he flew near the border of Malaysia and Thailand, crisscrossing into the airspace of both, Hardy said. But neither country was likely to see the plane as a threat because it was on the edge of their airspace.

"Both of the controllers aren't bothered about this mysterious aircraft because, oh, it's gone, it's not in our space anymore," Hardy said. "If you were commissioning me to do this operation and try to make a 777 disappear, I would do the same thing. As far as I'm concerned, it's very accurate flying, and it did the job."

Still, as News.com.au wrote, the experts' hypotheses are just theories - and not entirely new ones.

Zaharie and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid were prime suspects in the plane's disappearance from the beginning. There were rumors that Zaharie's marriage was ending and that he downed the plane after learning that his wife was about to leave, the news site said.

Another theory was that he hijacked the plane in protest of the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim, who was then the opposition leader in Malaysia.

A group called the Chinese Martyrs' Brigade claimed responsibility for the downing, although skeptical officials called it a hoax.

Two men on the plane were flying with phony passports, but one was apparently an asylum seeker, and neither had terrorism links.

The wreckage, of course, might provide some insight about what caused the airplane to crash, and crews were still looking for it as recently as this year.

The latest attempt to discover it was a $70 million effort by a Texas company called Ocean Infinity, according to the Associated Press. The mission scanned 500 squares miles a day during a three-month search.

Ocean Infinity CEO Oliver Plunkett said the company's technology had performed "exceptionally well" and collected "significant amounts of high-quality data."

Still, it found no trace of MH370.

  • Published in World

MH370 Search Will Not be Extended if Present Operation Fails

BANGKOK - The search for the remains of flight MH370 will not be extended to new areas if the present operation in the Indian Ocean does not yield results, officials said Wednesday, a few weeks before the second anniversary of the disappearance of the airplane.

  • Published in World

MH17 shot with BUK missile, Ukraine failed to close airspace

The Dutch Safety Board says a BUK missile with a 3N314M warhead was responsible for downing MH17. It also noted that Ukrainian aviation regulators admitted that arms were being in the east of Ukraine which were capable of striking passenger aircraft.
  • Published in World

Government declares MH370 crash an accident

Malaysia's government formally declared still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 an accident on Thursday and said all those on board were presumed dead, paving the way for compensation claims, but angering victims' families still waiting for evidence of the plane's fate.

  • Published in World
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