UN rejects US bid to criticise Cuba and calls for end to embargo
The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday (Nov 1) called for an end to the decades-old U.S. embargo on Cuba, adopting a resolution by an overwhelming majority and rejecting U.S. moves to criticise Havana's human rights record.
United States ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, pictured at a Security Council meeting in New York on Aug 28, 2018, dismissed the vote as a "waste of everyone's time". (AFP/DOMINICK REUTER)
It was the 27th time that the 193-nation assembly has issued the call to lift the embargo imposed in 1962.
The resolution presented by Cuba was adopted by a vote of 189 to 2 with no abstentions. The U.S. and its ally Israel voted against while Ukraine and Moldova did not vote.
The United States failed to win support for eight amendments criticising Cuba's human rights record. Only the U.S., Israel and Ukraine voted in favour of those amendments. The Marshall Islands joined them in one vote.
At least 65 countries including many European nations abstained and at least 113 voted against the proposed U.S. call to Cuba to fully uphold its citizens' rights.
President Donald Trump's administration points to Cuba's repression of political opponents and curbs of freedom of expression as a reason for maintaining the economic embargo.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the vote on the U.S. embargo, which has been an annual exercise since 1992, as a "waste of everyone's time" because it did not address Cuba's human rights situation.
"It's one more time that countries feel they can poke the United States in the eye," Haley told the assembly.
Applause broke out in the chamber after the adoption that highlighted Washington's isolation on its Cuba policy. The resolution is non-binding but carries political weight.
Haley declared that the United Nations had "rejected the opportunity to speak on behalf of human rights" and described the outcome of the vote as a reminder of "why so many people believe that faith in the United Nations is often misplaced."
In a 35-minute address ahead of the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez slammed the Trump administration as a "government of millionaires that imposes cruel policies," citing U.S. treatment of migrant children separated at the border with Mexico and "locked in cages."
"The U.S. government does not have the least moral authority for criticising Cuba or anyone else with regards to human rights," said the foreign minister, urging countries to back his measure.
Rodriguez argued that the embargo was a "flagrant, massive and systematic violation" of human rights in Cuba, notably by denying access to U.S.-produced medicines and medical technology.
Last year, the resolution was adopted by a vote of 191 to two. The United States and Israel were the only two countries that voted "no."
That vote took place after Washington for the first time abstained in the vote in 2016 as former president Barack Obama pursued a thaw in relations with Havana.
Ties between Cuba and the U.S. have been in decline under Trump, who has rejected the previous administration's moves to improve ties with Havana.
The Cuba Embassy in Vietnam revealed in a symposium in Hanoi on October 26 that an unjust U.S. financial and trade embargo on Cuba had cost the country’s economy more than USD 933 billion over nearly six decades.
The report touches upon new U.S. regulations imposed by the Trump administration in November 2017, in particular the tightening of travel restrictions and banning of U.S. trade.
Monetary losses also result from U.S. sanctions, or the fear of sanctions, that are applied to specific companies, agencies, and financial institutions in third countries.
The report catalogs difficult situations. Specialized medical equipment and drugs made only in the United States are unavailable and lives are lost. To buy goods from third countries rather than from the United States means higher prices and increased transportation costs./.