UN spurns U.S. blockade of Cuba, again

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) — The United Nations General Assembly snubbed the United States for its hostility towards Cuba, Oct. 30, amid fresh calls for an end to the 45-year economic and financial embargo imposed on the socialist island.

As many as 184 countries voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution demanding the U.S. lift its blockade of Cuba. The vote broke last year’s record, when 183 countries endorsed the resolution against the U.S. embargo. The 192-member General Assembly has adopted 16 similar resolutions since 1992.

Like last year, in addition to the United States itself, the negative votes were cast by just three countries: Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. The only abstention was the small island nation of Micronesia.

Before and after the vote, speaker after speaker deplored the U.S. policy and said the sanctions against Cuba violate international law and the UN Charter.

The UN support for Cuba comes just a week after the U.S. President George W. Bush described Cuba as a “tropical gulag” and signaled his administration’s readiness to take more hostile measures to force an economic and political change on the island’s people.

For their part, Cuban leaders said Bush was trying to harass Cuba and threatening its entity as an independent and free nation.

At the Oct. 30 General Assembly meeting, speaking on behalf of the G-77 countries and China, the largest political bloc of developing nations, Pakistani deputy ambassador Farukh Amil described the U.S. sanctions against Cuba as “a means of political and economic coercion.”

“The continued imposition of an economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba violates the principles of the sovereign equality of states and of non-intervention in each other’s domestic affairs, international human rights law and the UN Charter,” he told delegates.

Explaining why the European Union voted in favor of the resolution, Portuguese diplomat Jorge de Lemos Godinho said the U.S. measures against Cuba were “not acceptable.” In Godinho’s view, although the embargo against Cuba is a bilateral issue, the U.S. has extended it to other territories.

The embargo provisions contained in the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Helms-Burton Act put limits on EU countries’ trade relations with Cuba.

“The EU cannot accept unilateral measures imposed by the U.S.,” Godhino said.

Among many others, diplomats from China, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, India and Mexico also made strong statements in support of the Cuban demand for the lifting of U.S. embargo.

The Cuban government says the commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. since 1962 has caused losses of over $89 billion, which, at the current dollar value, would amount to no less than $222 billion.

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