UN votes to end embargo on Cuba, US says no
United Nations: The United Nations General Assembly has backed a resolution that Cuba has been submitting every year since 1992 demanding that the US lift the economic embargo it imposed on the communist island more than 50 years ago.
A total of 191 of the 193 members of the UN voted in favour of the resolution, the first since Cuban-US relations were restored in December 2014, with the exception of the US and its ally Israel, Efe news agency reported.
Recent diplomatic thaw between the countries led many to expect a change in the US position this year.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Tuesday said he was disappointed the US did not vote yes.
“We have to judge from the events. The fact is since December 17 (last year when the normalisation of US-Cuba relations was announced) there have been no significant changes in the application of the blockade,” said Rodriguez.
He said Cuba will continue to take up the matter in the UN General Assembly till the blockade is lifted.
US President Barack Obama’s opposition to the embargo and his repeated appeals to the US Congress to lift it had raised expectations the US could end up abstaining from voting in Tuesday’s session.
US envoy Ronald Godard hinted that the resolution had been seriously considered but the final draft of the resolution had prompted the US to oppose it.
“We find it unfortunate that, despite our demonstrated bilateral progress, Cuba has chosen to introduce a resolution that is nearly identical to those tabled in years past,” Godard added.
The resolution by the Cuban authorities “warmly welcomes the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the governments of Cuba and the US” and acknowledges Obama’s willingness “to work for elimination of the economic, commercial and financial embargo”.
However, it also reiterates concern for the continuity of the policy and the negative effects it has on the Cuban people and urges the US to take measures “in the shortest possible time” to revoke the embargo.
Although the vote is not immensely significant considering the resolution is non-binding, an abstention by the US would have sent a clear message to the Congress.