The United Nations General Assembly voted Oct. 28 for the 23rd consecutive year on a Cuba resolution calling upon the United States to end its economic blockade against the island. The results highlight U.S. isolation in the diplomatic community; 188 UN nations voted “Yes,” and only two, the United States and Israel, rejected the resolution. The Marshall Islands, Palau, and Micronesia, island-nations in the Pacific allied to the United States, abstained.
The tally was similar to that of 2013. Since 1994, over 100 nations have supported the resolution, with 180 or more nations doing so since 2005. Beginning in 1998, only Israel, the United States, and at times one of the Pacific island-nations have voted “No.”
Before and after the vote, 39 delegates representing individual nations or regional groups spoke before the Assembly. Multinational alliances represented in the debate included: the CARICOM group of Caribbean nations, the South American trade association Mercosur, the Western Hemisphere (minus Canada and the United States) CELAC alliance, the Non-Aligned Group of Nations, the G77 nations (134 nations in all), and the African Union. Both the United Nations and TeleSur news service communicated the proceedings worldwide live via the Internet.
Speakers emphasized themes that Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez also covered. Among them were: freedom for the three Cuban Five prisoners still in U.S. jails, Cuba’s international humanitarian outreach, U.S. violations of international law, and Cuba’s inclusion on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Addressing the Assembly, Minister Rodriguez began by insisting that the “world community” pay attention because the vote “concerns International Law that protects big and little states, rich and poor, and guarantees independence for all of them.”
Rodriguez characterized the present era as “unprecedented” with its “old and new problems tending to make human life unsustainable.” And, “none are solvable if our attitude does not change for the sake of genuine cooperation,[specifically] the way we face and deal with reality.”
He accused the United States of having intensified its economic blockade, which “presents serious obstacles for the economic development of Cuba. Cuba has never been a threat to U.S. national security,” he declared, and in fact “the U.S. and Cuban peoples have always had deep ties.”
Rodriguez reported that “diverse tendencies” and experts in the United States “recognize that these policies have failed and don’t respond to the national interests of that power.
“It’s enough to read the New York Times editorials of recent weeks,” he explained. And besides, “Cuba will never renounce its sovereignty or the road its people freely chose to build a more just and efficient, more prosperous and sustainable, socialism.”
Juan Carlos Mendoza, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 countries, stated, “Human lives are threatened and public health is debilitated due to the blockade, same with education, culture, sports, finance, banking, external commerce, [and] foreign investment.“
Poland’s UN delegate representing EU member states conveyed EU “rejection of all unilateral measures directed against Cuba which negatively affect third parties’ interests and thereby violate commonly accepted rules of international trade.”
Once more Ronald Godard, listed as “U.S. Senior Area Adviser for Western Hemisphere Affairs,” took on the annual task of explaining U.S. policies before the United Nations. His nation is attending to “national interests and its principles,” he declared. At issue are “human rights and fundamental freedoms” for the Cuban people.
“[T]he Cuban economy will not thrive until [Cuba] opens its state monopolies to private competition and adopts the sound macro-economic policies that have contributed to the success of Cuba’s neighbors in Latin America.”
So Mr. Godard seems to be discounting that sentiment in the U. S. Declaration of Independence paying honor to “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”
Godard called upon Cuba to free jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross. After all, he stated, Gross was only “facilitating Internet access for Cuba’s small Jewish community.” Nevertheless, according to both the NACLA organization and Tracy Eaton‘s report, Gross’ larger task was anti-government subversion.
Paradoxically, despite all the fuss, both the United States and Israel do engage commercially with Cuba. Pressure from U.S. agricultural and food processing businesses induced Congress in 2000 to authorize cash-only food sales to Cuba. Their yield since then has ascended into the billions of dollars.
The Israeli-financed Grupo BM company, headquartered now in Panama, years ago undertook joint-venture projects with Cuban partners. Its “Jagüey Grande” citrus plantation in Matanzas province became an export powerhouse for Cuban agriculture. And rental income from office buildings of its “Miramar Trade Center” presumably still flows to Israeli investors.
Photo: The shadow of Juan Carlos Lazo, who sells donuts in Havana, is cast along the cement next to his motorized vehicle. The UN General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned the U.S. commercial, economic, and financial embargo for the 23rd year in a row. The embargo was first put in place when Cuba placed companies that had been draining the island’s resources and exploitiing its workers under public control.The idea behind the U.S. embargo is to punish Cuba and its people for opting for this socialist approach to their economy. Franklin Reyes/AP