Right of Reply by John F. Sammis, United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, in Response to the Cuban Delegation's Statement on Agenda Item 62: Advancement of Women, in the Third Committee of the Sixty-fourth Session of the General Assembly

John F. Sammis, United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC
New York, NY
October 13, 2009


My delegation regrets the use of the word “genocide” by another delegation to describe United States sanctions on Cuba.  The inappropriate use of this term diminishes the very real suffering of victims of genocide elsewhere in the world.

United States sanctions do restrict trade with Cuba by U.S. companies and individuals, but the United States is also the largest provider of food to Cuba, with approximately $717 million in U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba in 2008. 

We are also an important exporter of medicine and medical equipment to Cuba.  The United States is Cuba’s fifth largest trading partner and the American people are the largest source of humanitarian aid to Cuba.

In the context of this discussion, it is also important to note that the United States has undertaken several measures in recent months to reach out to the people of Cuba, for example by taking steps to promote family travel and the free flow of information to and from Cuba.  We have also resumed bilateral discussions on migration and initiated talks to establish mail service directly between the United States and Cuba.

On the matter of visas for certain family members, we do not discuss individual visa cases, but we note that the United States has issued over 120 visas to persons visiting the jailed Cuban intelligence operatives mentioned by another delegation.  All visas are processed in strict accordance with the United States Immigration and Nationality Act. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2009/214