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US and Israel only ‘No’ votes as UN members demand end to 61-year Cuba embargo

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Picture: Evan Schneider / United Nations / November 2, 2023 – The United Nations General Assembly voted on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, on November 2, 2023 in New York.

By Brett Wilkins

It was the 31st straight year that the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned the crippling US blockade on the socialist nation.

As they have done every year since 1992, United Nations member states voted near-unanimously on Thursday to demand an end to the US economic blockade on Cuba.

By a vote of 187-2 with one abstention, the UN General Assembly approved a Cuban draft resolution affirming the “necessity of ending the economic, commercial, and financial, embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.

The US and Israel cast the only votes against the resolution, while Ukraine abstained.

Speaking at UN headquarters in New York, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla called the embargo an “illegal, cruel, and inhumane policy” and “an act of economic warfare in times of peace”.

“Cuba is prevented from buying from US companies and its subsidiaries in third countries, equipment, technologies, medical devices, and end-use pharmaceuticals, and is therefore forced to acquire them at exorbitant prices by way of intermediaries or to replace them with less-effective generic drugs,” Rodríguez said, providing one example of how the blockade harms the Cuban people.

Nevertheless, Rodríguez vowed that Cuba would “continue to build bridges with the people of the US”.

That includes by paying for economically disadvantaged medical students to study in Cuba, provided they serve underprivileged communities when they return home.

Rodríguez also expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, who are enduring what numerous experts have called a “genocidal” assault by Israeli forces in which more than 9,000 people — including over 3,700 children — have been killed.

US Deputy Ambassador Paul Folmsbee insisted that his country “stands resolutely” with the people of Cuba.

“We strongly support their pursuit of a future with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

Representatives of the world’s nations voiced a chorus of condemnation of the US blockade.

Peruvian UN Ambassador Luis Ugarelli said his country “shares the view of practically the entire international community” that the embargo is illegal and violates the principles of the UN Charter.

Noting Cuba’s successful development of multiple Covid-19 vaccines, Bolivian Ambassador Diego Pary said: “Just think how many lives could have been saved if Cuba had the freedom and the opportunity to share the vaccine successfully developed in Cuban laboratories.”

Ambassador Aurélie Flore Koumba Pambo of Gabon asserted that the embargo is “clearly a hostile act to region and continental cohesion” whose “impact is more and more harmful to the Cuban people”.

US peace activists agreed, with women-led CodePink accusing President Joe Biden of “not only turning a deaf ear to the international community”, but also “ignoring the democratic voice of his own people” as “over a hundred resolutions condemning the blockade have been passed across the US”.

CodePink continued:

The US embargo has a negative impact on all sectors of Cuba’s economy and has unquestionably worsened the quality of life of Cubans by limiting their access to basic necessities, including medicines, food, and fuel. According to the Cuban government, from March 2022 to February 2023, the blockade caused an estimated $4.8 billion in losses to Cuba, representing more than $555,000 for each hour of the blockade. The inclusion of Cuba in the US list of state sponsors of terrorism… exacerbates the impact of the economic embargo. This has led to a massive increase in the number of Cubans migrating to the United States in search of economic opportunities.

The blockade began during the administration of President John F Kennedy, who according to close confidant and historian Arthur M Schlesinger Jr, wanted to unleash “the terrors of the Earth” on Cuba following Fidel Castro’s successful overthrow of a brutal US-backed dictatorship.

Successive US administrations subsequently supported a decadeslong campaign of exile terrorism against Cuba, which included failed assassination attempts, subversion efforts, economic warfare, and covert operations large and small in a fruitless policy of trying to overthrow Castro and reverse Cuba’s revolution.

As Cuban officials relish in noting, a dozen US administrations have come and gone since the revolution’s triumph.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article was first published on Common Dreams