The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution condemning the United States
’ sanctions regime against Cuba
On Thursday, the assembly adopted the annual resolution by an overwhelming 191 votes in favor of putting an end to a decades-long US
economic embargo against Cuba.
The measure was met for the first time in 25 years with an abstention by the US itself, which had vehemently opposed the resolution over the years.
Another road not taken
“The United States
has always voted against this resolution. Today the United States
will abstain,” US Ambassador to the UN
Samantha Power had said ahead of the vote, drawing applause from the assembly members.
“After 55-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we are choosing to take the path of engagement,” she said.
Power said, however, that the abstention did “not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government,” including “serious human rights violations.”
Calling it a positive but very limited step, Havana welcomed the UN resolution.
‘Act of genocide’
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez described the US shift as positive, but said that Washington must take concrete steps that go beyond the “vote of one delegation in this forum.”
“The blockade continues to be a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all Cuban men and women and qualifies as an act of genocide,” Rodriguez said.
The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 and placed an official embargo against the country in 1962.
The two countries became ideological foes soon after the 1959 revolution in Cuba, which brought Fidel Castro to power, and their ties remained hostile even after the end of the Cold War.
Cuban President Raul Castro (R) receives US President Barack Obama at the Gran Teatro in Havana, Cuba, March 22, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Washington and Havana, however, restored diplomatic relations after 18 months of secret talks that led to a joint announcement on December 17, 2014.
The United States and Cuba officially restored diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015. Nevertheless, Washington continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo, which makes it illegal for US corporations to do business with Cuba.
Barack Obama, who visited Havana in March, has been the first sitting US president to visit Cuba in nearly a century.
Washington keeps pressuring the Cuban authorities over what it claims are human rights violations in the large Caribbean island country.