By: Luke Gould
The UN General assembly voted in an overwhelming majority, on Tuesday, for an end to the US economic embargo on Cuba. The largely symbolic vote passed 188 to 2 with only 3 states abstaining.
The economic embargo against Cuba was originally implemented as a way for the US to destabilize a government which it opposed. The blockade has been accompanied by American backed invasions, terrorist attacks and assassination attempts. Despite this considerably overzealous foreign policy, which many international institutions and lawyers consider an illegal violation of Cuban sovereignty, the US has only succeeded in undermining the Cuban economy and harming its citizens.
Representatives of various international groups, including the G77, Mercosur, The Movement of Non-Aligned Countries and others joined representatives of individual countries speaking in front of the General Assembly the day of the vote.
“Human lives are threatened and public health is debilitated due to the blockade, same with education, culture, sports, finance, banking, external commerce, [and] foreign investment,” Juan Carlos Mendoza representing the G77 stated.
“We invite the government of the United States to establish mutually respectful relations,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez stated in his speech. “We can live and deal with each other in a civilized way despite our differences,” he continued. “Cuba will never relinquish our sovereignty.”
This vote is an annual affair. In each of the 23 votes so far, support for Cuba has risen considerably.
The vote comes accompanied by a constant chorus of voices from different organizations and countries condemning the embargo.
Recently, even the New York Times came out against the blockade. In an editorial the newspaper highlighted the problems of American foreign policy towards the small Caribbean nation.
The UN vote is non-binding and, in all likelihood, will not motivate the US to end the embargo in the near future. That being said, this vote highlights US isolation on policy towards Cuba. Only Israel supported the US in this last vote. The issue of policy towards Havana is the only one which causes so much disagreement between America and its western allies.
Additionally, Cuba has made recent headlines for its efforts combating Ebola in West Africa. The Cuban government has been applauded by many countries for sending the most doctors to the region. This expanded humanitarian aid by Cuba serves to make Washington’s position appear even more outdated.
The UN cannot legally force the US to end the economic embargo on Cuba. Mounting pressure from the international community, however, may force Washington to eventually rethink its position.
Photo – (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)