UN member states votes overwhelmingly to condemn US embargo on Cuba

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UNITED NATIONS, Nov 08 (APP):For the 28th consecutive year, the UN General Assembly has adopted, by an overwhelming majority, a resolution calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.

The 193-member Assembly voted 187-3, with two abstentions.

For the first time, Brazil, which is led by an ultra-conservative pro-US President, joined the United States and Israel in voting to continue it. Ukraine, which is a focus of the US presidential impeachment inquiry, abstained for a second consecutive year and was joined by Colombia.

“Like all nations, we get to choose which countries we trade with. This is our sovereign right,” Kelly Craft, the US Ambassador to the UN, said prior to the vote.

“So, it is worrying that the international community, in the name of protecting sovereignty, continues to challenge this right.”

The embargo is rooted in the Cold War, when Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries seized power.

Tensions only eased more than a half-century later when the administration of former US President Barack Obama established diplomatic relations with Cuba, modifying several aspects of the embargo such as lifting some travel restrictions.

As the resolution states, these policies “contrast” with measures implemented by the current President, Donald Trump, in 2017.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, reported that in recent months Washington has begun to “escalate aggression”, including by preventing international fuel shipments to the island, scaling down consular services, and attacking national programmes that support other developing countries.

“The blockade has caused incalculable humanitarian damages. It is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights,” he charged. “It qualifies as an act of genocide under Articles II (b) and (c) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted in 1948. There is not one single Cuban family that has not suffered the consequences of this.”

The vote was preceded by presentations, which began on Tuesday.

Supporting the resolution, Pakistani delegate Muhammad Imran Khan said that the United Nations Resident Coordinator has concluded that ending the embargo would be a significant step towards improving the quality of life of people in Cuba.

The imposition of unilateral economic measures is counter-productive and inconsistent with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and international law, he said.

“These measures decrease the prospects for a peaceful resolution of differences and disputes between Member States,” the Pakistan delegate added.

Palestine, speaking on behalf of the developing countries’ bloc the Group of 77 and China, regretted that the US has strengthened the embargo.

“From April 2018 to March this year, the impact of the US embargo on Cuba’s foreign trade amounts to more than $4 billion,” Ambassador Riyad Mansour said. “Limited foreign investment and difficult access to development credits translate directly into economic hardship and humanitarian impacts for the people Cuba. The country’s socio-economic reforms have also been hampered by the embargo.”

The 15 members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) highlighted Havana’s support to the region. Cuba has deployed medical professionals to distressed areas, including those affected by natural disasters, among other initiatives.

Keisha McGuire, Grenada’s Ambassador to the UN, recalled that the country was among the first to assist The Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in September.

She characterized the embargo as “an anachronism and aberration” in an era when global cooperation is critical to address common challenges such as climate change.

“It is in this broader context that we view the embargo—not just as a punitive act against Cuba but as an impediment to Caribbean regional development as a whole,” she told the General Assembly.