28 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 30th & 31st Meetings (AM & PM)
The General Assembly today adopted a resolution which for the twenty-third year in a row called for an end to the United States economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba.
Exposing an intractable demarcation of the international community, 188 Member States voted in favour and, as in previous years, the United States and Israel voted against. Three small island States — Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau — abstained from the vote.
By the terms of the text, the Assembly reiterated its call upon States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and regulations, such as the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, the extraterritorial effects of which affected the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.
It once again urged States that had and continued to apply such laws to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible, in line with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and international law.
In recent times, the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba had been tightened, and its extraterritorial implementation had also been strengthened through the imposition of unprecedented fines, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba told the Assembly as he introduced the draft resolution. The accumulated economic damages of the blockade totalled $1.1 trillion, based on the price of gold.
The representative of the target of the resolution, the United States, disagreed with that assessment, saying in a statement explaining its negative vote that Cuba’s economic woes were due to the policies it had pursued over the last half century. And while Cuba’s fight against Ebola was laudable, it did not excuse the country’s treatment of its own people.
It was a sentiment echoed to some degree by Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, who after criticizing the embargo reiterated the Union’s call on the Cuban Government to fully grant its citizens internationally recognized civil, political and economic rights and freedoms.
But regionally, Barbados’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), chose to focus on how students from CARICOM countries had benefited from free tertiary education in Cuba, also noting with appreciation that Cuba was in the process of mobilizing 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa — the largest medical contingent of any country to help in the fight against Ebola.
The representative of Iran, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that Cuba’s medical assistance to West Africa was further proof of the constructive role that Cuba played in international affairs.
All walks of life were affected when a country was under sanctions, observed Sudan’s representative. It was a sentiment echoed by the delegate of Myanmar, who said that having experienced similar unilateral sanctions for decades Myanmar fully understood from its own experience the degree of suffering caused by the sanctions, which directly affected the innocent people of Cuba. Constructive dialogue was necessary to promote confidence and understanding, and the embargo and coercive measures should be replaced by dialogue and cooperation.
Also speaking at today’s meeting were the representatives of Bolivia (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Argentina (in its national capacity and on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Russian Federation, Mexico, India, Algeria, Viet Nam, China, Solomon Islands, Egypt, Venezuela, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Belarus, United Republic of Tanzania, Nicaragua, Syria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, El Salvador and Ecuador.