End Cuba Embargo, World Tells U.S.—Again

End Cuba Embargo, World Tells U.S.—Again

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UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) - The United Nations General Assembly for the 19th straight year called on the United States to end its economic, commercial and financial embargo against the Caribbean island nation of Cuba, which they say has crippled the development of the Cuban people, and is morally indefensible.

The General Assembly—by a recorded vote of 187 in favor to 2 against (U.S., Israel), with three abstentions (Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau)—adopted a resolution “reaffirming the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation as paramount to the conduct of international affairs.” Throughout the day, delegates spoke out against the embargo as a longstanding example of the U.S. disregard for international opinion and international law.

“We are living in a new age,” said Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, agreeing with his colleagues that it was time to set aside anachronistic, Cold War-era tools of coercion. “Cubans living for over 50 years under the blockade have suffered $751 billion in damages in current dollars. Fines imposed by the U.S. Treasury and Justice Dept. on American and European entities for their transactions with Cuba have reached more than $800 million,” the Cuban official said.

Amb. Parrilla said he regretted that President Barack Obama, who had called for a new era of engagement with Cuba at the beginning of his term, had subsequently been so poorly advised. Indeed, changes underway in Cuba were responding to the sovereign decisions of its people and aimed to make Cuba's economic model more efficient. He said the U.S. had ignored Cuba's proposals, submitted in public and in private, to open dialogue. Nor had there been a response to new ideas for cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking. Despite that, Cuba was ready to establish respectful relations with the U.S. as it enjoyed with the majority of the international community.

The Cuban minister repeated the oft-mentioned accusation that the embargo constituted an “act of genocide,” which prompted a rather angry response from the U.S. representative Amb. Ronald Godard.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Amb. Godard said those charging that Washington's sanctions were the cause of deprivation among Cubans should be reminded that the U.S. did not restrict humanitarian aid to Cuba and remained its largest food provider. “In agriculture alone, the United States had exported $526 million in goods to Cuba in 2009,” Amb. Godard told the General Assembly.

Some analysts have said that the Obama administration didn't give the agri-products to the Cuban people, but permitted companies in the agribusiness sector to sell their products to Cuba.

The American ambassador also recalled that under President Obama, Washington had lifted family visits and remittances, increased the amounts of humanitarian items Americans can donate to Cubans and made it easier for U.S. telecommunication companies to pursue agreements to provide services to Cuba.

“It is high time for the General Assembly to move beyond rhetorical posturing and support the right of Cubans to decide their own fate,” Amb. Godard said.

The representative from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Amb. Camillo Gonsalves, reminded delegates that the resolution was not simply an annual ritualistic rite; it was a matter of life and death for 11.5 million Cubans. He expressed hope there would be no need to gather next year to vote, yet again, on a similar text.