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UN calls for U.S. to end Cuba embargo in 187-2 vote; U.S. and Israel oppose

Updated 12:42, 03-Nov-2023

The UN General Assembly on Thursday called for the 31st time on the United States to end its decades-long trade embargo against Cuba as the country suffers its worst economic crisis in decades, with shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

The non-binding resolution was approved by 187 countries and opposed only by the United States and Israel, with Ukraine abstaining.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a speech before the assembly that the "blockade prevents Cuba from accessing food, medicines, and technological and medical equipment."

Havana is also prohibited from exporting to the neighboring United States, Rodriguez said, curtailing access to a massive market for its goods and costing Cuba nearly $5 billion in losses in 2022 alone.

"The blockade (embargo) qualifies as a crime of genocide," said Rodriguez, who said the U.S. policies were deliberately aimed at promoting suffering among the Cuban people in order to force change in the government.

Aurelie Flore Koumba Pambo, representative of Gabon to the UN, voiced her country's concern over the continuing embargo.

"The scale of its impact is more and more harmful to the Cuban people," she said during the debate, noting that the economic blockade is "clearly a hostile act to region and continental cohesion."

She called it an "obstacle to the social and economic development of Cuba."

Peruvian UN Ambassador Luis Ugarelli said his country "shares the view of practically the entire international community" that the embargo is against the principles of the UN Charter and international human rights law, noting Peru would support the resolution, as it has done for more than 30 years.

First imposed in 1962, the embargo was tightened in recent years by former U.S. President Donald Trump. The web of U.S. laws and regulations complicate financial transactions and the acquisition of goods and services by the Cuban government.

U.S. diplomat Paul Folmsbee, in a brief speech opposing the resolution, said the embargo was aimed at promoting "human rights and fundamental liberties in Cuba" and that the U.S. made exceptions for humanitarian purposes.

The long-running dispute between Cuba and the United States shows little sign of detente, despite some modest gestures of goodwill under the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

Biden has taken small steps to ease restrictions on Cuba, boosting consular services but doing little to repeal the Trump sanctions.

Read more: 

China: U.S. imposed unilateral measures on Cuba must stop immediately

(With input from agencies)

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