UN Condemns Cuba Embargo for 22nd Year in a Row

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The United Nations General Assembly voted 188-2 on Oct. 29 to condemn the US embargo against Cuba for the 22nd year in a row. 188 of 193 countries voted for the non-binding resolution, with only the United States and Israel voting against. Palau, Micronesia, and Marshall Islands abstained.

The resolution, titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” blasted the United States for “affecting the sovereignty of other states, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction, and the freedom of trade and navigation.”

President Eisenhower signed a partial embargo on exports to Cuba on Oct. 19, 1960 after Cuba’s nationalization of properties belonging to US citizens and corporations. President John F. Kennedy signed a full trade embargo on Feb. 3, 1962 after the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The embargo, known among Cubans as “el bloqueo” or “the blockade,” consists of economic sanctions against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce for all people and companies under US jurisdiction.

According to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the “human damages caused by the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States are incalculable. It provokes hardships and is a mass, flagrant, and systematic violation of human rights. The fact that 53 years later the same policy still prevails is something extraordinary and barbaric.”

Ronald Godard, US envoy to Cuba, responded that the Cuban government uses the embargo as an “external scapegoat” for its economic problems. “The United States strongly supports the Cuban people’s desire to design their own future,” he said. “However, such an aspiration is obstructed by the Cuban Government… The Cuban Government’s [problems are] actually caused by its own policies over the last half a century. It is unrealistic to expect Cuba to thrive unless it changes its policies, opens up for competition, respects international property rights, and allows unfettered access to the Internet…”

In 2012, US citizens sent $2 billion in family remittances and $352 million in agricultural, medical, and humanitarian products to Cuba. According to a report from Cuba’s state agency Granma, the embargo has cost Cuba more than $1.1 trillion since it was first enacted. Estimates place the cost of the Cuban embargo to the US economy between $1.2 and $4.84 billion annually.

Sources:

Al Jazeera, “UN Urges End of US Embargo on Cuba,” aljazeera.com, Oct. 29, 2013

Bill Chappell, “U.N. Condemns U.S. Embargo of Cuba, Again,” npr.org, Oct. 29, 2013

Louis Charbonneau, “U.N. Urges End of U.S. Embargo on Cuba for 22nd Time,” reuters.com, Oct. 29, 2013

Portia Siegelbaum, “U.N. General Assembly Votes against U.S. Cuba Embargo for the 22nd Year in a Row,” cbsnews.com, Oct. 29, 2013

United Nations, “General Assembly Demands End to Cuba Blockade for Twenty-Second Year as Speakers Voice Concern over Impact on Third Countries,” un.org, Oct. 29, 2013