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UN Votes Against U.S. Blockade of Cuba Print E-mail

Massive International Condemnation of Blockade for 22nd Consecutive Year

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodrigues Parilla speaking at the United Nations, October 29, 2013

TML, November 1, 2013

On October 29, the U.S. criminal blockade was overwhelmingly rejected by member nations of the UN. The UN General Assembly approved by 188 votes in favour, two against and three abstentions, out of a total of 193 countries, a draft resolution entitled, "Necessity of Ending the U.S. Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed on Cuba," demanding the end of the United States blockade on Cuba for the 22nd consecutive year. Only the United States and Israel voted against. The tiny U.S. protectorates Micronesia, Palau and Marshall islands abstained. This is one fewer vote against the resolution than last year, when Palau voted with the U.S. and Israel.

El Bloqueo es un CrimenThe resolution reasserts the importance of respect for the sovereign equality of the nations, non-intervention or interference in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation, which have been principles violated by the U.S. blockade imposed more than 50 years ago. In addition, it rejects the so-called Helms-Burton Act, issued by the U.S. Congress in March 1996 to stiffen sanctions against Cuba, because of its extra-territorial effects. It also takes note of the declarations and resolutions of different intergovernmental forums, bodies and governments expressing the international condemnation of the blockade imposed by the U.S. Finally, the document requests that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon prepare a report on the implementation of the present text to be presented next year at the 69th session of the highest body, and keeps the matter on the agenda of the General Assembly.

In a speech just prior to the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodrigues Parilla stated that the Government of Cuba, as an expression of its desire for peace and coexistence respectfully reiterates its willingness to move towards normalization of bilateral relations with the U.S. and confirms its willingness to establish a serious constructive dialogue, as equals and based on full respect for Cuba's independence. He pointed out that Cuba is the only destination on the planet where U.S. citizens are forbidden to travel. This is a constitutional matter, as the American people are not equal before the law, according to whether or not they are of Cuban origin.

Minister Rodriguez also pointed out that during the Obama administration not only are the sanctions intact and rigorously applied, but that the economic siege has been tightened. Cuba has suffered economic damage of more than $1.1 trillion dollars because of the blockade he stated. He explained that President Obama could use his broad constitutional powers, even without going through Congress, to generate a dynamic that would change the situation. The blockade is an uncultured act that prevents the free movement of people, flow of information, exchange of ideas and the development of culture, sport and science. There should be dialogue, negotiation and even cooperation where possible and appropriate, for the benefit of both peoples and hemispheric relations, said Rodriguez.

The vote on the illegal U.S. blockade of Cuba underscores a fundamental sharpening contradiction in international relations today. Despite the overwhelming vote in favour of the resolution to lift the blockade, this decision cannot be enforced by the General Assembly. It underscores the need to uphold the norms of international relations, namely the principles of the equality and sovereignty of all nations, big or small, as enshrined in the UN Charter, and the need to oppose the imperialist dictate of might makes right.

The U.S. imperialists, reviled the world over for their unabashed programs of torture, wide-scale spying on their own citizens and those of other countries, and other systematic violations of rights, arrogantly claim that, "Our sanctions policy toward Cuba is just one of the tools in our overall effort to urge respect for the civil and human rights," as stated by U.S. diplomat Ronald Godard at the General Assembly.

On the contrary, the resounding UN vote represents not only a victory for Cuba but also a victory for all those who support and defend the inalienable and inviolable right of all peoples to self-determination and independence, a fundamental basis for any country to protect the rights of its citizens.

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