United Nations Begins Debate over U.S. Blockade of Cuba

For the last three years, 188 of the 193 members have voted in favor of Cuba, with the United States and Israel being persistent exceptions.

The United Nations General Assembly has begun its yearly debate on the U.S. blockade of Cuba. The vote on ending the blockade is expected to take place in the coming hours. The initiative has been backed by the majority of members for the last 23 years.

Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will present a report that concludes that the economic sanctions, which have caused some US$833.8 billion in damage to the Caribbean island, should be lifted.

The Iran’s U.N. representative of the Non-Allied Movement spoke first in support of lifting the blockade. He listed the ways the sanctions had harmed the people of Cuba and the development of the country.

“It affects all crucial sectors of society, such as public health … banking and tourism. It denies cuba aid,” he told the assembly. “The embargo is also the main obstacle to broader access to the internet and the exchange of ideas.”

“The continuation of the emabargo is unjustifiable, and counters Cuba’s effort to achieve sustaibable debvelopment,” he said.

Echoing the theme, Ecuador’s NAM representative at the U.N. called on the United States to cease voting against the movement, “contrary to the will of the international community.”

The G77: The US has caused damages equal to 191 billion dollars against Cuba. We (G77) will support the resolution. https://t.co/X311QdJUvr — teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) October 27, 2015

U.N. Representatives from the Caribbean Community and Common Market, Caricom, and the South American regional bloc Mercosur congratulated the United States and Cuba for reestablishing relations, but also called on the United States to lift the blockade against Cuba.

“The time has come to put an end to this unilateral embargo,” said the Paraguayan representative, speaking on behalf of Mercosur.

For the last three years, 188 of the 193 members have voted in favor of Cuba, with the United States and Israel being persistent exceptions. The decision must be unanimous in order for the measure to be passed.

The vote will take place at the New York headquarters in the coming hours.

The resolution is named the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.” It expresses concern over the interntional legality of the U.S. economic and financial siege of the Caribbean island.

U.S. president Barack Obama said in July that the blockade had failed. Since then, has often hinted that it would soon be lifted. But despite beginning a path to normalize bilateral dealings, including lifting some travel and trade bans bans to the island, the sanctions continue, as a change of policy would have to be passed by Congress.

Cuban president Raul Castro has reiterated that in order for full relations to be reestablished, the United States must meet four conditions: to leave Guantanamo detention camp; end the blockade; end the “wet-foot-dry-foot” law encouraging Cubans to pursue residency in the U.S.; and end anti-government radio and television transmissions into the island.

However, the U.S. may choose to abstain altogether from the upcoming vote calling for an end to the half-century lock blockade against Cuba, according to diplomatic sources.

“There is a strong rumor that is running that the United States will abstain in this vote,” Venezuelan ambassador to the UN Rafael Ramirez told Prensa Latina earlier in October. “We will see how it turns out.”

Lifting of the half-century blockade would represent an historic moment for Cubans, 77 percent of whom were born under the harsh economic conditions.

Originally published at www.telesurtv.net on October 27, 2015.

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