World Asks The U.S. To End Embargo On Cuba
The World Asks The U.S. To End Embargo On Cuba, Yet Again
By Andreas von Warburg
The General Assembly of the United Nations has voted overwhelmingly in favour of ending the 45-year-old trade embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba. The resolution marks the sixteenth year in a row that the 192-Member body has urged the lifting of the stiff sanctions imposed on the Caribbean island in 1962.
The UN resolution received 184 votes in favor – including New Zealand and Australia – and four against, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, and the United States. Micronesia abstained, while Albania, El Salvador and Iraq did not vote.
“Cuba’s problems derive not from any decision of the United States, but from the embargo on freedom that the Cuban regime has imposed on its own people,” said Ambassador Ronald D. Godard, Senior Advisor of the US Permanent Mission to the UN, in his statement to the General Assembly. “The Cuban government denies its people information, access to the outside world and the right to travel, and opportunities to better their lives economically.”
Ambassador Godard noted that the United States was one of Cuba’s largest trading partners, accounting for more than $2 billion in medical and agricultural commerce, and the largest provider of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people. In his speech, he urged Member States and non-governmental organizations to support Internet access and full access to libraries for all young people in Cuba and called for the release of all political prisoners and the restoration of basic human rights.
Rather than voting for the resolution against the United States, Ambassador Godard urged Member States to oppose the resolution and oppose the Cuban Government’s embargo on freedom, which was the real cause of the embargo.
The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Cuba and any official contact is through the country’s Interest Section in Havana hosted by the Embassy of Switzerland. Cuba maintains a interest section in Washington, within the Swiss Embassy.
The US lists Cuba as a state sponsor of terror and has long sought to isolate it through travel restrictions and a trade embargo, which has been tightened over Bush's two terms. This year, the US Administration stepped up enforcement of financial sanctions, which Felipe Ramón Pérez Roque, Castro’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, strongly denounced.
"It is McCarthyism of the 21st century," Pérez Roque said in his statement in the General Assembly. “Without doubt, as you well know, the brutal economic war that has been imposed on Cuba hasn't only affected Cubans."
The Minister said the gravity of these measures is worse due to extraterritorial application of US laws and represents "contempt of the legitimate interest of third countries interested in investing and developing normal economic and trade relations with Cuba, an issue that concern all the States here present."
Pérez Roque explained that over the last year, more than 20 banks of several countries "have been grossly threatened to induce interruption of any relation or transaction with Cuba."
"Cuba will never surrender," Pérez Roque said. "It fights and will fight."
Ambassador Robert Hill, Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN in New York, explained that Australia has consistently expressed its opposition, as a matter of principle, to the promulgation and application by States Members of the United Nation of laws and measures, the extraterritorial effects of which affect the sovereignty of other states, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction, as well as freedom of trade and navigation.
“This vote should not be interpreted as in any way endorsing the internal policies of Cuba. Holding political prisoners and failing to comply with international human rights standards is not an internal matter – it should be of concern to all of us, Ambassador Hill said. “We should take every opportunity to remind Cuba of its international obligations and urge its full cooperation with international human rights treaties, bodies and mechanisms. In particular, we should urge the Cuban Government to meet its responsibility and respect the rights of all its population.”