The United Nations General Assembly has for the 30th year in a row overwhelmingly voted to support a resolution demanding the end of the economic blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, but Washington refuses to lift it.
Of the 189 countries that voted, only the US and Israel and two abstentions from Brazil and Ukraine did not back the lifting of the decades-long blockade which stretches back to 1959.
Cuba’s foreign minister told the assembly that accumulative damages were estimated at almost $1.4 trillion at current prices. South Africa called the continued embargo a violation of international law and the UN Charter that could never be justified.
The resolution titled: Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, has been approved since 1992 as Cuba’s top diplomat lamented the economic losses to his country where 11.3 million live under dire circumstances.
He mentioned supply shortages and long queues to buy essential goods and the obstacles posed to families and particularly young people and the increase in mass migration.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla asked at the UN in New York: “What would Cuba be like today had it had those resources? What else could we have done? What would our economy be like? It’s impossible to quantify the anxiety generated by blackouts and instability in the power system.
“It takes a toll on the lives of Cuban men and women and contributes to transnational organized crime and arms trafficking in persons.”
He also called the US designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terror”, imposed in the final days of the administration of former President Donald Trump, as unfounded while urging the US to heed the widespread call of the international community.
But the United States again rejected the resolution, focusing rather on human rights deficits in Cuba, after abstaining just once under the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2016.
The US Mission’s Political Coordinator John Kelley, said: “The United States opposes this resolution, but we stand with the Cuban people and will continue to seek ways to provide meaningful support to them. We encourage this body to urge the Cuban government to listen to the Cuban people and their demands to determine their own future.”
Even if the current US administration voted in favour of the text, it would still require an act of Congress to eliminate the embargo – an impossibility given the current political divides nationally.
The US embargo was officially declared in 1962, but in reality Washington began imposing illegal unilateral sanctions almost immediately after the victory of the Cuban Revolution three years earlier, headed by the late Fidel Castro.
The UN commission noted that the Donald Trump administration imposed an additional 240 unilateral sanctions on Cuba, and that the Joe Biden administration has renewed the economic measures.
“The numerous United States sanctions produce real harm that obstructs the access of Cuban citizens to basic goods and violates their rights,” the UN commission wrote.
These policies are an obstacle to economic, social and environmental development.
“In short, the numerous United States sanctions constitute the most severe and prolonged system of unilateral coercive measures ever applied against any country and continue to hinder the development of the potential of the Cuban economy,” the UN statement concluded.