UNITED NATIONS – By a vote of 191 to 2, the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday deplored a U.S.
Trade embargo on Cuba for the 24th year in a resolution that Washington voted against despite enhancing ties and a push by President Barack Obama to remove the economic constraints.
The resolution, which will be non-binding, was enacted by the 193-member General Assembly with Israel that was only joining the USA in voting no. After a 54-year break, the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations in July. Obama told the U.N. General Assembly last month that he was “confident our Congress will inevitably lift an embargo that shouldn’t be in place anymore.” The resolution welcomes the renewed ties and acknowledges “the stated will” of Obama to end the embargo.
It especially cites the 1996 Helms-Burton Act as one particular law, which impacts valid interests of their citizens and other states’ sovereignty, in addition to the liberty of navigation and commerce. Helms-Burton penalizes foreign companies for doing business with Cuba.
Washington imposed the blockade in 1960, after Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista’s regime, a US-backed dictator. It’s been in place for over 55 years.
“The time has come to put an end to the unilateral embargo,” said the Paraguayan representative, speaking on behalf of Mercosur, a free trade block of seven South American countries.
“The continuation of the embargo is unjustifiable, and counters Cuba’s attempt to reach sustainable development,” said the Iranian representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.
President Obama announced that he would be altering the US policy on Cuba, arguing the blockade hadn’t created the desired effect. In May 2015, the US removed Cuba from the set of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism. The Cuban embassy in Washington reopened in July, and suit was followed by the US embassy in Havana in August.