Happy 20th Anniversary! Or maybe “un-happy” anniversary.
Today for the 20th year in a row, the UN General Assembly has voted to condemn the United States’ 50-year-old economic embargo on Cuba. How did the votes turn out this year?
YES (against embargo) – 186
NO (in favor of embargo) – 2
ABSTAIN – 3
(details of the country lists in the vote count have not yet been published)
Last year there were 187 votes in favor of ending U.S. sanctions on Cuba, two against (Israel and the U.S.) and three abstentions (Palau, Marshall Islands, and Micronesia). Again, we are reminded of the fact that the rest of the world is against us for our policy towards Cuba.
Many people had high hopes for President Obama and his promise to change our international image, including in reference to Cuba. We’ve seen small but significant changes in travel/remittance regulations and cultural exchanges; however, the maintenance of the economic sanctions is the basis for and most cruel aspect of our foreign policy towards Cuba. As the delegate of Egypt reminded us in the opening statement of this year’s general assembly, “On a recent trip to Latin America this year, President Obama stated that ‘The U.S. seeks a new beginning with Cuba.’ Again, the members of the Non-aligned Movement ask the U.S. to match these words with actions.”
We want to see this action as well. Rather than serving the interests of dwindling minority group of Cuban Americans in the United States, we want the President to address the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens that have been for years calling for a change in our relationship with Cuba.
This vote in the UN has become a sad tradition and only underscores the hypocrisy of our role in the international community. While we tout humanitarianism and justice to the world, we cannot even follow our own advice in our own backyard.
You may read the statements of all the United Nations countries in response to Cuba’s motion to the United Nations to condemn the embargo, here. We’ve highlighted some strong country statements here.
We’ll be back to you soon with actions you can take to assist in changing this policy, including removing Cuba from the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-sponsoring nations.
Statements from 2011 UN General Assembly Vote on Cuban Embargo
“Since 1996, the Government of Australia has consistently supported General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to the trade embargo against Cuba. Australia has no trade or economic legislation or measures which restricts or discourages trade or investment to or from Cuba.”
“The Brazilian Government has consistently opposed the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba. Accordingly, Brazil has also continued to foster and pursue a growing economic relationship with Cuba.”
“The maintenance of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba is inconsistent with the dynamic regional policy that has recently been marked by the return of Cuba to dialogue and cooperation forums of the Americas.”
“This [embargo] is not only a serious violation of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of relevant United Nations resolutions, but also a source of immense economic and financial losses for Cuba. It is an impediment to efforts by the Cuban people to eradicate poverty, to promote their economic and social development and to attain the Millennium Development Goals, it impairs the Cuban people’s right to survival and development, and it adversely affects normal economic, commercial and financial relations between Cuba and other countries.”
“China hopes that the United States, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and relevant United Nations resolutions, will put an end as soon as possible to its blockade against Cuba and it also hopes that relations between the two countries will continue to improve, thus promoting stability and development in the entire Latin American and Caribbean region.”
“The Government of Colombia will continue the political support it has always given Cuba, and reaffirms that in conformity with its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law.”
“The Government of Costa Rica wishes to reiterate that it has not enacted or applied laws intended to enforce the economic embargo against Cuba, and that it is complying with United Nations General Assembly resolution 65/6.”
“Reiterating its support for the Latin American and Caribbean consensus and the solidarity of the majority of United Nations Member States in their endorsement of General Assembly resolution 65/6, the Republic of El Salvador calls for the elimination of these measures against the Republic of Cuba and reports, in accordance with the above-mentioned resolution, that it has never promulgated or applied laws or measures the extraterritorial effects of which would affect the sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba and its citizens.”
“…the European Union and its member States have been clearly expressing their opposition to the extraterritorial extension of the United States embargo, such as that contained in the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Helms-Burton Act of 1996.”
“The Holy See has never drawn up or applied economic, commercial or financial laws or measures against Cuba.”
“Honduras, in fulfilment of its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, has refrained from promulgating laws and regulatory provisions that might affect its trade relations with Cuba.”
“Japan shares the concern, arising from the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (known as the Helms-Burton Act) and the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, that, if application of such legislation causes undue hardship in relation to the economic activities of the enterprises or nationals of a third party, the legislation is likely to run counter to international law regarding the extraterritorial application of domestic laws.”
“Mexico emphasizes that [the embargo] has serious humanitarian consequences that are contrary to international law and, moreover, signify the abandonment of diplomacy and dialogue as the appropriate ways of settling disputes between States.”
“The Government of Mexico has also consistently opposed Cuba’s economic and political-diplomatic isolation. It has therefore firmly supported Cuba’s inclusion in all regional integration machinery in order to promote economic and commercial exchange, cooperation and development.”
“The blockade against Cuba, which has endured for almost half a century, has manifestly demonstrated its inability to influence the Cuban people in their sovereign choice of a model of development. The sole consequences of the sanctions that have been imposed are the worsening living conditions of the Cuban people, the erection of artificial barriers to the growth of the country’s economy and encroachments upon the rights and interests of third countries.”
“We are convinced that [lifting the embargo],unlike the discriminatory practice of economic “strangulation”, will help ensure the success of the progressive social and economic reforms currently being implemented by the Cuban authorities.”
World Food Programme
“The United States embargo continues to severely limit trade and has a direct impact on the capacity and efficiency of Cuba’s logistics infrastructure, […] food processing and agricultural production. The efficiency of the food-based social safety nets of the Cuban Government’s, which are instrumental to household food security, is thereby negatively affected. This year, the effect is even more crippling because of the combined factors of rising food prices and persistent drought in Cuba.”
World Health Organization
“In the health sector, the consequences of the embargo have a negative multiplier effect on the cost of basic everyday health products, on the difficulties in acquiring health products, on the availability of basic services and, therefore, on the overall living conditions of the population.”
“The embargo also stunts public health development in Cuba by preventing the country’s access to loans and donations from international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as by limiting its access to philanthropic contributions and donations from civil society in the United States.”
“The embargo affects the individual health care of all people, regardless of age or gender, through its impact on Cuba’s unified health system institutions, research facilities, epidemiological surveillance institutions and disease control agencies.”