Thu, Oct 29, 2015 - Page 7 News List

UN calls on US to end Cuba embargo

WIN FOR CUBA:Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN Rafael Ramirez said the vote showed the failure of US sanctions, and that the US should stop trying to be ‘the world’s police’

AFP, UNITED NATIONS

The UN General Assembly on Tuesday called for an end to the US embargo on Cuba in a resolution adopted by a near-unanimous vote, three months after the US restored diplomatic ties with Havana.

The US and Israel voted against the non-binding resolution, but all 191 other countries of the 193-member assembly backed the measure.

The outcome was a diplomatic victory for Cuba, which is pushing for immediate action to ease the embargo, imposed in 1960 at the height of the Cold War.

It was the 24th time that the annual resolution presented by Cuba was adopted by the assembly, but the measure garnered the highest level of support yet at the UN.

Last year, the US and Israel voted against the resolution and three countries — the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau — abstained.

The assembly has voted each year since 1992 to approve the resolution that highlights Washington’s isolation over its Cuba policy.

This year’s resolution welcomed the re-establishment of diplomatic ties and recognized US President Barack Obama’s “expressed will” to rescind the embargo.

The final decision rests with the US Congress, where the Republican majority has balked at the shift.

Rodriguez voiced hope that the US Congress “moves to change this inefficient, cruel and unjust policy, anchored in the past.”

He stressed that Obama has “broad executive prerogatives to substantially modify” the embargo.

Cuba estimates that damage from what it terms a blockade amounts to more than US$830 billion.

Describing the resolution as “unfortunate,” US Ambassador to the UN Ronald Godard said the US could not support the text because it did not reflect “the significant steps taken and the spirit of engagement President Obama has championed.”

The US and Cuba restored diplomatic ties in July after a five-decade standoff, but they have yet to reopen trade and financial relations.

At the UN podium, envoys representing all major regional groups applauded the US shift toward Cuba, but stressed that lifting the embargo was key to correcting what many view as a historical mistake.

South African Ambassador to the UN Kingsley Mamabolo, speaking on behalf of the G77 group of emerging economies, condemned the embargo as “the most unjust, severe and longest-lasting system of unilateral sanctions ever applied to any country.”

The G77, China and the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement criticized Obama’s administration for slapping 42 fines on US and foreign entities that do business in Cuba.

Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN Rafael Ramirez said the outcome of the vote showed the failure of US sanctions and sent a message to Washington to “stop its practice of claiming to be the world’s police.”

In Caracas, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro congratulated Cuba on Twitter for “another victory of truth and dignity.”

Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez said Havana would present the annual resolution for as long as the embargo persists.

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