Cuban ambassador condemns ban imposed by PriceSmart


Friday, April 11, 2014    

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THE Cuban Ambassador on Wednesday rejected and condemned what he described as the anachronistic action undertaken by PriceSmart in Jamaica and other countries in the region to ban accounts of residents and staff of the Cuban Embassy and consular offices.

Ambassador Bernardo Guanche Hernandez, in a press conference held at the Cuban embassy said the ban not only affects staff at the embassy, and their families, but all Cubans working in Jamaica.

"The implementation of the measures against Cuban diplomatic personnel contravenes the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, particularly Article 25 which states "the receiving State shall accord full facilities for the performance of the functions of the mission", "Hernandez said. "The blockade is aggressively extraterritorial and a violation of international law that transgresses the sovereignty of all States," he told reporters.

In the letter dated March 17, addressed to the third secretary and consul of the Embassy of Cuba, Junior Rodriquez Fonseca, the general manager of the supermarket, Tara Kisto stated that PriceSmart Jamaica is a subsidiary of a United States parent company PriceSmart Incorporated, and in that regard the United States Government prohibits the parent company and, therefore, the Jamaican store from making sales or transacting business with citizens of Cuba who do not have permanent residency in the country or possibly another country.

But the ambassador said this was not the first time a ban was being placed on the staff and families here in Jamaica, as in 2013, as a result of similar pressures, the Scotiabank branches here suspended and prohibited the provision of financial services to members of the diplomatic staff of the Cuban embassy and to Cuban nationals with legal residency in Jamaica.

"These measures taken by PriceSmart in Jamaica are in addition to similar measures taken in recent months against Cuban embassies in different Caribbean and Central American countries," Hernandez said. "They constitute a demonstration of how the government of the United States extrater-ritorially implements the criminal provisions of its economic, commercial and financial blockade against the Cuban people. This is further evidence of the violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and disrespect for the repeated resolutions of the UN General Assembly that since 1992 have demanded that the US government end the absurd and reinforced blockade imposed on Cuba for over half-a-century," the ambassador said.

He said the last resolution was supported by 188 member nations.

He said they are aware of the support of the Jamaican Government and people who stand in solidarity and support against the blockade.

"When Scotiabank took this measure against the Cuban Embassy and Cuban nationals, this issue was communicated through diplomatic channels and we have done in relations to the issue what we needed to do with the hope that common sense will prevail and the UN resolution and international law could be respected," Hernandez added.

He said with the over 30 stores in the Caribbean and the Latin America regions the PriceSmart ban affects not only Cubans in Jamaica but those in Barbados, Panama, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic among others.

He believes PriceSmart will have a very difficult situation on their hand because of this measure.

While not being able to give a figure as to the number of persons who will be affected, Hernandez said if any Cuban national comes to visit Jamaica with their families they too would not be allowed to make any purchase in PriceSmart, while all Cuban teachers, doctors and nurses working in Jamaica were also included in the ban.

"Those professionals offering their services to the Jamaican people, all those who have returned eye sights to so many Jamaican patients, and those that have confirmed thousands of eye surgeries here in Jamaica, all of them will be affected," he said. "So all those Cuban professionals who are rendering their services here are affected by that measure because the parent company has instructed the company here in Jamaica not to allow any of them to make purchases at PriceSmart."

The ambassador said he is in constant contact with the Jamaica government and authorities and they are taking the matter seriously. He expressed gratitude to both the government and people of Jamaica for their support in helping to find an honourable solution to the problem.





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