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UN General Assembly renews call for end to US embargo against Cuba

UN General Assembly renews call for end to US embargo against Cuba

For the eleventh year in a row, the United Nations General Assembly today overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on the need to end the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba.

The resolution urged all States to repeal or invalidate any laws and measures - such as the US "Helms-Burton Act" - which affect the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.

One hundred and seventy-three countries voted in favour of the measure, which was opposed only by the US, Israel and the Marshall Islands. Four countries - Ethiopia, Malawi, Nicaragua and Uzbekistan - abstained from the balloting.

Explaining his country's position, US Ambassador Sichan Siv called Washington's embargo against Cuba "strictly a matter of bilateral policy" which the General Assembly should not address. He said the US did not prevent other nations from trading with Cuba, and argued that the embargo is not the cause of Cuba's economic problems.

"The failure of the Cuban Government to respect the rights of its people concerns more than just Cuba," Mr. Siv said. "The focus of the international community, as manifested in the United Nations, should be on the continuing human rights crisis in Cuba rather than on the bilateral United States efforts to encourage a peaceful transition to democracy."

The President of Cuba's National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, said a wide range of civil society and influential business entities in the US were calling for a lifting of the blockade and the normalization of economic ties with Cuba. Thanks to their efforts, it had been possible to take a few steps, he added, noting that for the first time in four decades, a number of US exporters were able to sell their products to Cuba and carry out the necessary operations despite the severe obstacles and discriminatory practices they had to confront.

Mr. Alarcon de Quesada also pointed out that a constructive spirit had also been echoed in US legislative bodies, but these efforts were forced to contend with the opposition of a powerful minority. The anti-Cuban minority, protected by its privileged relations with the current US administration, acted ever more openly against the true interests of the United States, he said, hailing the General Assembly for its action to provide justice for the Cuban people, who had suffered greatly as a consequence of a policy unjust, illegal and contrary to both reason and morality.

A comparable text was adopted last year with 167 in favour and the same three countries in opposition.