UNITED NATIONS—The international community has voted nearly unanimously to urge the United States to end its more than 50-year-old economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.
Tuesday, 191 countries in the U.N. General Assembly called for Washington to end the measures put in place during the height of the Cold War. Only the U.S. and Israel voted against lifting the embargo.
This was the strongest support the world body has expressed for ending the embargo in the 24 consecutive years it has taken up the issue.
The U.S. came in for robust criticism from leaders of regional blocs in the General Assembly.
“It is the most unjust, severe, and longest lasting system of unilateral sanctions ever applied to any country,” said South African Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China.
“In our opinion, economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba, is contrary to the letter, the spirit, principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and international law,” said Ambassador Diego Morejon, representing Latin American and Caribbean states of CELAC.
Iran’s ambassador, Gholam Ali Khoshroo, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the embargo continues to hurt the Cuban people.
“It affects all crucial sectors of the economy such as public health, nutrition, and agriculture. As well as banking, trade, investment and tourism,” he said.
The European Union representative, Luxembourg Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, welcomed the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, but noted that under the new circumstances the embargo has become “even more of an anachronism.”
Last December, President Barack Obama ordered full restoration of diplomatic relations with the island nation. He also eased some travel restrictions, but only the U.S. Congress can lift the 56-year-old embargo.
Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, urged the United States to lift the embargo, saying it is in the U.S. national interest.
“We share the hope that the Congress of the United States would move on to change an inefficient, cruel and unjust policy, anchored in the past, and adopt decisions based on the values and feelings of its citizens,” he said.
U.S. Ambassador Ron Godard told the assembly that since December, the United States has implemented a range of “historic” measures designed to begin normalizing bilateral relations, but that Tuesday’s General Assembly vote would not help move things forward.
“We do not expect Cuba or the United States to forget the past overnight,” Godard said. “We realize that fully normalizing our bilateral relations will require years of persistence and dedication on both sides.”
He said that in addition to the two meetings this year between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, U.S. and Cuban officials have met in Havana to set a broad agenda for cooperation.
He said those talks have spanned law enforcement, drug trafficking, human rights and climate change.
“By the end of the year,” Godard said, “we hope to announce several concrete accomplishments that will benefit both our peoples.”
Source : VOA