25 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/11162

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Plenary

41st & 42nd Meetings (AM & PM)


Speakers Denounce Cuban Embargo as ‘Sad Echo’ of Failed Cold War Politics;

 

General Assembly, for Twentieth Year, Demands Lifting of Economic Blockade

 


Obama Administration Speaking with Voice of Republican Predecessors,

Cuban Foreign Minister Says of Washington’s ‘Worn Out, Repetitive Position’


Drawing parallels to recent political uprisings in defence of freedom and self-determination, General Assembly delegates today again denounced the decades-old economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, voting overwhelmingly to adopt the world body’s twentieth consecutive resolution calling for an end to the measures.


The resolution – adopted by a recorded vote of 186 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel), with 3 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau) — reaffirmed the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation as paramount to the conduct of international affairs.  (For details of the vote, see Annex.)


By the text, the Assembly expressed concern at the continued application of the 1996 “Helms-Burton Act” — which extended the embargo’s reach to countries trading with Cuba — and whose extraterritorial effects impacted both State sovereignty and the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction.  It reiterated the call on States to refrain from applying such measures, in line with their obligations under the United Nations Charter, urging those that had applied such laws to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible.


Introducing the resolution before the vote, Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said that the United States “hostile and aggressive” policy had not changed for the last 50 years.  Rather, Washington had taken measures to strengthen its “siege” on his island nation in a “cruel and opportunistic” manner.  Cuba was still unable to freely export or import products to the United States, while Cuban companies were banned from trading with American companies or their subsidiaries in third party States.


In addition, entrepreneurs interested in investing in Cuba could not do so, hampering the economic development of the nation.  The total direct economic damage imposed by the blockade was estimated to exceed $975 billion, he said, and even humanitarian aid was restricted, leading to suffering among the Cuban people.


In 1991 – when the General Assembly had first decided to include the current item in its agenda – it had seemed impossible that the discussion would continue 20 years later, he said.  Indeed, for the two decades the Assembly had been calling for an end to the embargo, the United States had not heeded to the majority opinion of Member States.  He recalled that United States President Barack Obama had recently responded with a “non-committal refusal” to an offer made by the Cuban Government to hold a dialogue on items on the bilateral agenda, preferring, it seemed, to stick to the same worn out, repetitive position anchored in the past”.  Nevertheless, Cuba’s proposal to move towards normalization of relations and to expand bilateral cooperation with the United States still stood.


Taking the floor immediately after that address, the United States’ delegate countered that his Government was, in fact, open to a new relationship with Cuba, which could begin if the Cuban Government began to respect the human rights of its citizens.  The resolution before the Assembly did not reflect current realities, he said; that text, with its “stale rhetoric” was designed to “confuse and obscure” the real relationship between the United States and Cuba.


Indeed, he said, this annual exercise by the Assembly attempted, “to no good end”, to obscure some fundamental truths.  The Cuban Government’s own policy was the largest obstacle to the country’s own development, concentrating political and economic decisions in the hands of the few and stifling economic growth.


The United States was, in fact, a leading source of food and humanitarian aid to Cuba.  He said that in 2010 alone, the island nation had received some $3.5 billion in total sales of United States goods, including some $360 million in agricultural products.  The United States had also authorized $861 million in humanitarian assistance to Cuba.  Moreover, he emphasized, it was the Cuban Government that had denied its citizens the right to self-determination for over half a century.  He objected to the multilateral discussion of the United States’ relationship with Cuba.  Nations had the right to determine their own bilateral interests in accordance with their own national values, he said, and that included international relationships.


Many of the nearly 40 speakers throughout the day-long discussion alluded to the sweeping changes – known as the “Arab Spring” - that had recently led thousands of people in the Middle East and North Africa to realize their right to self-determination and to steer the course of their own development.  In light of those “unexpected and profound” political changes, said the representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the application of justice could not be confined to the national level.  It should also extend to the international arena and to relationships between Member States.


It was “utterly troubling” that, to this day, “the screws of an unfair and unwarranted blockade […] are still being tightened” against Cuba, he said.  Nevertheless, the punitive measures imposed against that country had persisted, “and with them endures the suffering of its brave people”.  He urged the United States to promptly end the embargo and, “once and for all”, to listen to the will of the overwhelming majority of the international community.


Echoing that call, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said that, half a century ago, the world had witnessed a “Cuban Spring” in the form of an indigenous and popular uprising against a brutal dictator.  They had chosen for themselves a new path of progress, global citizenship and development which was guided by the fulfilment of the needs of its citizens, particularly the poor.


Some States had not greeted that uprising with the same enthusiasm with which they welcomed, assisted or instigated other, subsequent revolutionary movements, she added.  Instead, the embargo imposed on Cuba had been an “unmitigated failure” and had only caused suffering to its people.  Indeed, while other unjust and antiquated structures had fallen, it alone remained as the last relic of a Cold War that otherwise only existed in the history books.


The representative of Viet Nam agreed, emphasizing that – even as the estimated loss and damages caused by the embargo approached $1 trillion – the suffering of the Cuban people transcended that “staggering” figure.  “The basis of the [embargo’s] policies and measures is a violation of the right of a people to self-determination,” he stressed, adding that all people had the right, among other things, to determine their own political system and their path to development.


Also speaking today was the Minister of State for External Affairs of India, as was the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bolivia.


Representatives of the following countries also spoke: Argentina (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Kenya (on behalf of the African Group), Belize (on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Kazakhstan (on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC)), Uruguay (on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR)), Mexico, Venezuela, China, Algeria, South Africa, Belarus, Indonesia, Solomon Islands and the Russian Federation.


Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote was Nicaragua’s delegate.


Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote were the representatives of Poland (on behalf of the European Union), Namibia, Zambia, Iran, Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Nigeria, Myanmar, Brazil, Syria, Gambia, Sudan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Argentina, United Republic of Tanzania and Angola.


The representative of Cuba took the floor in exercise of the right of reply.


The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 26 October to consider the reports of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.


Background


The General Assembly met today to consider the Secretary-General’s report on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (document A/66/114), which summarizes the responses of 142 Governments and 26 United Nations bodies, received as at 11 July 2011, following a request by the Secretary-General on that matter.  Replies received after that date will be reproduced in addenda to the present report.


In its 28-page submission to the report, the Cuban Government calls the embargo an act of “genocide”, as understood in the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and an act of “economic war” under the terms of the Declaration concerning the laws of naval war, adopted by the Naval Conference of London in 1909.  “Despite the official rhetoric that attempts to convince the international public opinion that the current United States Government has introduced positive policy changes, Cuba is still unable to trade with subsidiaries of United States companies in third countries”, it states.


“Very conservative estimates” of the direct economic damage to Cubans since December 2010 due to the embargo amounted to $104 billion, Cuba’s submission says.  That figure would have hit $975 billion if it had accounted for the depreciation of the dollar against the price of gold on the international financial market.  The embargo was an “absurd, illegal and morally unsustainable” policy that must be lifted unilaterally, without delay.


DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted that last year’s announcement by the United States on the relaxation of travel restrictions and transfer of remittances had given hope that steps were being taken in the right direction.  But a year later, it was clear that those measures had had only limited effect and that the embargo was still in place.  Largely unchanged, it continued to impose severe economic and financial restrictions on Cuba that negatively impacted the well-being of its people.  Further, it frustrated efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


The embargo against Cuba contravened the fundamental norms of international law, international humanitarian law, the United Nations Charter and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States, violating the principles of the sovereign equality of States and of non-intervention and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs, as the Group of 77 and China had pointed out many times before. 


At the second South-South Summit in Doha in 2005, the Group had rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions against developing countries.  Recalling that last year a large majority - 187 Member States - had voted in favour of the draft resolution presented by Cuba, he said that the Group of 77 and China fully supported the current text calling for an end to the embargo and urged all Member States to do so.


MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that, recently, “unexpected and profound” political changes in many parts of the world had been sparked by an entrenched longing for justice that had, for too long, been unduly denied.  In that light, his delegation believed that the application of the principle of justice should not be confined to the national level, but should also extend to the international arena.  It should not only govern relations between individuals, but also between Member States.  For that reason, it was “utterly troubling” that, to this day, “the screws of an unfair and unwarranted blockade […] are still being tightened” against one of the Movement’s members.


He said that in the past, Washington claimed that it would reach out to the Cuban people and engage with them, but such encouraging words had regrettably not been translated into concrete actions.  The punitive measures imposed against Cuba had persisted, “and with them endures the suffering of its brave people”.  The direct and indirect damages caused by the embargo were enormous, affecting all sectors of the economy including health, nutrition, agriculture, banking, trade, investment and tourism.  Moreover, the unilateral blockade had an extended effect on companies and citizens from third countries, thus violating their sovereign rights.  The Movement reiterated its deep concern over those harmful impacts, he said, adding that they constituted additional arguments in favour of the prompt elimination of sanctions.


It was astounding that the embargo was maintained when a full 187 Member States had voted last year in favour of the General Assembly resolution that called for its immediate lifting, he said.  “Why should the Cuban people continue to suffer when the international community is almost unanimous in its conviction that the cause of their anguish is unjustified and illegal?” he asked, adding that there were no credible answers to that question.  The Movement once again urged the United States to immediately and fully comply with all General Assembly resolutions calling for the end of the embargo, and “once and for all” listen to the will of the overwhelming majority of the international community.


MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that over the years the General Assembly had categorically and overwhelmingly rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact.  Africa shared the views expressed by the international community in its continued opposition to sanctions against Cuba.  The Assembly called upon all States, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law, to refrain from applying, and/or repeal, laws that had extraterritorial impacts affecting the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.


Repeated calls by the international community remained unheeded and the “sad and tragic” decades-old United States embargo on Cuba had remained in force, he said.  In the report of the Secretary-General before the Assembly, the majority of the United Nations Member States, including from the African continent and various United Nations entities, categorically rejected the imposition of the embargo on Cuba and called for its lifting.  Given their proximity, Cuba and the United States should be natural partners in trade, commerce and investment.  Given the large number of Americans of Cuban extraction, Cuba and the United States should enjoy warm and fraternal relations in social and cultural affairs among their populations.


Yet, the potential of such economic and commercial ties had sadly remained unrealized, he said, adding:  “Whatever the historical roots of this intergenerational embargo, surely the time has come [for] nations to find the courage and sense of global citizenry to overcome differences and nurture coexistence.”  In conclusion, he reiterated Africa’s opposition to unilateral measures that impinged on the sovereignty of another country, including attempts to extend the application of a country’s laws extraterritorially to other sovereign nations.  Africa once again called for the complete and unequivocal lifting of sanctions and embargo against Cuba.


JANINE COYE-FELSON ( Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), declared the group’s continued unequivocal opposition to the United States’ imposition of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba which had been opposed by the overwhelming majority of the international community for the past 19 consecutive years.  The unilateral imposition of extraterritorial laws on third States was contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Charter, and the embargo itself ran counter to the principles of multilateralism, international law, sovereignty and free trade that the Organization traditionally championed.


She said the stubborn persistence of the punitive embargo, “apparently impervious to the sustained chorus of international criticism - or logic”, was of particular concern to CARICOM, which shared a history, culture, solidarity and kinship with the Cuban people.  Noting its regional status as the most populous State of the Caribbean region, and an integral part of the Pan-Caribbean process, she stressed that Caribbean ties with Cuba had historical significance, cemented by years of active cooperation at various levels, including in the areas of trade, health care, infrastructure and human resource development.


Continuing, she said the significance of the embargo on the Cuban economy continued to be of great concern to CARICOM, and its humanitarian impact on the Cuban people, especially in the health care and food areas, was particularly saddening.  The inability of Cuba to acquire much needed medical equipment, spare parts and latest generation medications because of the embargo continued to affect adversely the island nation’s health care system.  The situation had not been made any easier by the strengthening and more frequent storms and hurricanes wrought by climate change and Cuba’s geographical susceptibility to those natural disasters.  Given Cuba’s peaceful, generous and cooperative international stance, CARICOM reiterated its support for the right of the Cuban people to self-determination, in a manner beneficial to their social and economic development.  She remained hopeful, however, that the United States’ recent recommitment to multilateralism would result in an increased willingness to consider the opinions and concerns of its global friends and partners on that issue.


BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan), speaking on behalf of the Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that her delegation stood for the rights of every nation to follow its own development, and in that context, condemned unilateral acts that affected sovereignty and State interests.  “We do not agree with any national regulations that infringe, impede or retard the development of any country, including [in the] economic, commercial and financial spheres,” she said, underlining that the imposition of arbitrary unilateral laws contradicted World Trade Organization (WTO) rules prohibiting measures that hindered free trade and shipping.  Like the “overwhelming majority” of the international community, she called for lifting the Cuban embargo in line with the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolutions.


JOSÉ LUIS CANCELA (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), regretted that the “blockade policy” against Cuba continued unchanged, and had in fact recorded an increase in the restrictions to Cuba’s financial transactions with third countries, and that conditions were again obstructing the way of a greater openness to a direct dialogue.  MERCOSUR and its Associated States believed that the embargo against Cuba went against the principles of the Charter and contradicted the rules of international law, mainly the equality of States, non-intervention in domestic affairs, peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as the rules of the multilateral trade system and those that obliged the members of the WTO.


He said the embargo, which was also against the principles of justice and human rights, represented a collective punishment, created shortages and suffering to the population, limited and delayed development, and seriously harmed the Cuban economy.  Thus, as a matter of principle, MERCOSUR rejected unilateral and extraterritorial measures and in that sense, condemned the application of coercive unilateral measures against free trade, which caused an irremediable damage to the people’s welfare and obstructed the process of regional integration.  The economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba was an example of obsolete policies that did not have a place in today’s world, he added.


H. E. AHAMED, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, aligning with the Group of 77 and China, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Assembly had repeatedly rejected the imposition of laws with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures.  It also had called on States to respect the Charter and international law yet despite that, the United States’ embargo against Cuba remained in full force, which severely undermined the credibility of the United Nations.  Indeed, the embargo had brought immense suffering for Cubans and had transgressed a sovereign State’s right to development.


Moreover, it had adversely affected Cuba’s economic prosperity, he said, by denying it access to the United States’ market, investment, technology and financial services, as well as to scientific, educational, cultural and sporting institutions.  The embargo’s extraterritorial application also had severely impacted health care, a Millennium Development Goal, as well as health assistance to developing countries.  There was huge potential to strengthen economic and commercial ties.  Steps taken this year by the United States to reduce restrictions on travel and remittances were positive developments, but they were far from enough to make a fundamental change.  India joined others in calling for an immediate end to the Cuban embargo.  He supported the resolution.


JUAN CARLOS ALURRALDE ( Bolivia) said that the Cold War fear of nuclear attacks had largely ended, but other issues – including the threat of climate change, and others – “now strike fear in our hearts.”  He called on the United States to recall the time of John F. Kennedy, in which an American President had supported the right of the German people to determine their own fate and development.  Indeed, today’s United States President should say “I am Cuban”, in the way that Kennedy had declared “I am a Berliner”.


Those that claimed to support democracy were denying the right to democracy in the Assembly Hall today, he continued.  How long would the world wait for that State to change its attitude?  It was crucial that the United States adhere to the wishes of the vast majority of those in the room.  For those reasons, among others, Bolivia fully supported the draft resolution currently before the Assembly.


LUIS-ALFONSO DE ALBA ( Mexico) said that the draft resolution before the Assembly reflected, for the twentieth consecutive year, the international community’s rejection of the embargo imposed against Cuba.  Mexico was opposed to the use of coercive measures that ran counter to the principles of international law, as well as those of the Charter.  That blockade blatantly contradicted negotiations, diplomacy and dialogue as ways to resolve disputes between States.  Many United Nations agencies and bodies, alongside the report currently before the Assembly, had highlighted the negative effects of he embargo – both those that directly affected the Cuban people and those which had an indirect impact on third party States.


For those reasons, Mexico had supported all resolutions against the United States’ unilateral measures.  It continued to support the inclusion of Cuba in dialogue on economic, financial and commercial matters at the international level.  Mexico’s geographical proximity helped it to understand the plight of Cuba.  Additionally, he said, Mexico felt strongly that multilateralism remained the best way to resolve disputes and to ensure peaceful coexistence between States.  Once again, the near-universal rejection of the embargo showed that the time was ripe for lifting that blockade.


JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) endorsed the statements by the representatives of Egypt on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Uruguay on behalf of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR).  He echoed the fact that Member States had made a near-universal call from the Assembly to end the embargo against Cuba, which, for more than 50 years, had sought to restrict the right of that country’s people to decide their own fate.  That was an “unequivocal sign” that it was necessary to defend the political independence of States, and the fundamental purposes of the United Nations.  It was shameful that the call was ignored year after year.


In that regard, Venezuela supported the various statements on Cuba that had been approved by several groups and forums worldwide.  It was important to remember that a number of Cuban citizens – namely Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labaňino, Antonio Guerrerro and Fernando Gonzalez Llort - remained detained in the United States for defending their homeland against terrorist attacks.  It was also necessary to remember Rene Gonzalez, who had been released but was forced to remain in the United States.  Under the embargo, legislation such as the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Act restricted trade and imposed restrictions against entrepreneurs who wished to invest in Cuba.


However, the blockade was not an “abstract device imposed against a Government”, but had a daily impact on the lives of women, men and children.  It negatively affected the quality of life of sick people, who were denied medical items whose sale was prohibited in Cuba.  It prevented the import of building materials that were needed to make repairs.  Despite those challenges, Cuba had sustained a generous amount of support to neighbouring and other countries.  For those reasons, he demanded the end to the blockade and to the imposition of international double standards.  “Let us stop allowing the condemnation of the weak,” he stressed, “and the toleration of violations committed by the imperialists of the North”.


WANG MIN ( China) said that for 19 years, the Assembly had adopted, by an overwhelming majority, resolutions on the need to end the Cuban embargo, urging all countries to abide by the Charter and international law, and to repeal measures with extraterritorial effect.  Regrettably, those texts had not been implemented and the Cuban embargo had yet to be lifted, which severely violated the Charter and inflicted enormous economic and financial loss on Cuba.  The embargo had impeded efforts to eradicate poverty and violated Cubans’ basic human rights to food, health and education.


China had always believed that countries should develop mutual relations on the basis of upholding the Charter and respecting the right of others to choose their development paths, he said, adding that China opposed unilateral sanctions imposed by military, political, economic or other means.  Noting that China and Cuba had maintained “normal” economic, trade and personal exchanges, he said such mutually beneficial cooperation continued to grow.  Dialogue and harmonious coexistence were the mainstream of international relations, and in that context, he hoped the United States would follow the tenets of the Charter and end its embargo as soon as possible.  He also hoped the relationship between the United States and Cuba would improve with a view to promoting regional development.  China would support today’s resolution.


MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said the consecutive annual adoption by an overwhelming majority of Assembly members of a similar resolution calling for the lifting of the embargo against Cuba reflected the profound wish of the international community to put an end to that situation, which had lasted far too long.  Algeria had always condemned the imposition of unilateral acts, extraterritorial regulations impeding the development of any country and all forms of coercive economic and trade measures, such as the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, which was openly contrary to international law and the purposes and principles of the Charter.  Every Member State should respect principles of the Charter, including the sovereign equality of States, territorial integrity and non-intervention in the internal affairs of any other State.  It was well-established that this blockade affected Cuba’s economic growth and impeded its human development.


In that regard, it had caused huge economic damage to Cuba, and created economic hardship, daily affecting the well-being of the Cuban people.  Those consequences were exacerbated by the adverse effects of the current global and financial crisis, and the energy and food crisis that had seriously compromised Cuba’s efforts to improve its level of development.  According to estimates by the Cuban Government, confirmed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the cumulative direct and indirect losses to the Cuban economy over 50 years were more than $100 billion.  In accordance with the long-standing position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the issue, Algeria rejected the use of economic measures of coercion and extraterritorial applications of laws imposed on developing countries, and urged the United States Government to end the embargo against Cuba.


DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) said the question of ending the embargo against Cuba had continued to be a problem for the United Nations despite many calls to eliminate the measures.  The time had come for the embargo to be lifted, and the people of Cuba continued to bear the brunt of the sanctions.  The blockade was a violation of the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in domestic affairs.  It was a violation of international law and showed disregard of the United Nations Charter.  Thus, South Africa joined the majority of countries expressing opposition to all aspects of the blockade.  The situation was further exacerbated by the global financial crisis, food crisis and climate change.  The embargo directly hindered the Cuban economic recovery, and negatively impacted tourism.  The damage was estimated to exceed $975 billion in the future.  South Africa rejected reinforcement of the sanctions.


South Africa was deeply concerned over the widening of the extraterritorial nature of the embargo and rejected the reinforcement of the measures aimed at tightening it, as well as all other recent measures carried out by the United States against Cuba.  His delegation condemned the seizing by the United States of over $4.2 million, in January 2011, of funding from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which had been earmarked for the implementation of cooperation projects with Cuba.  He supported the content of the press release of 18 October 2011 by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cuba to the United Nations concerning the intensification of sanctions and extraterritorial persecution of citizens, institutions and companies in third countries that established economic, commercial, financial, scientific and technical ties with Cuba.


South Africa was strongly opposed to the actions of the United States regarding fines levied against foreign banking institutions for having conducted operations with Cuba.  In an attempt to grow trade with Cuba, South Africa was finalizing its proposals to offer a credit line of $10 million to Cuba.  That would be a breakthrough in relations for trade cooperation.  He called on all Member States to support the lifting of the United States’ embargo against Cuba.


LE HOAI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) recalled that, by the end of the current meeting, the Assembly would have overwhelmingly adopted for 20 consecutive years a resolution on the issue of ending the Cuban embargo.  Viet Nam shared the view of the international community that the United States should end the embargo against Cuba, which was a peace-loving nation, for strong legal, political, economic and humanitarian reasons.  The General Assembly had reaffirmed that the policies and measures in pursuit of the embargo, including the “Helms-Burton Act”, went against international law and the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.  “The basis of these policies and measures is a violation of the right of a people to self-determination,” he stressed, adding that they had the right, among other things, to determine their political system and path of development.


Additionally, he said, the embargo had serious and illegal extraterritorial effects on the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of persons under their jurisdiction, their freedom of trade and navigation.  The Government of Cuba estimated that the loss and damages caused by the embargo amounted to nearly $1 trillion.  The suffering of the Cuban people, however, transcended that “staggering figure”.  For those reasons, Heads of State or Government had reiterated their call to end the embargo in the Outcome Document of the fifteenth Non-Aligned Summit held in Egypt in 2009, he said.  Similarly, the discussions taking place today were consistent with the urge for cooperation and dialogue and the General Assembly’s current theme of peaceful settlement of disputes.


CAMILLO M. GONSALVES ( St. Vincent and the Grenadines) said that “half a century ago, the world was witness to the ‘Cuban Spring’:  an indigenous and popular uprising against a corrupt and brutal dictator”.  The Cuban people, unassisted by foreign military forces, had cast off the shackles of rapacious exploitation and chose for themselves a new and uniquely adapted path of progress, global citizenship and development that was measured not by the levels of corporate or individual excess, but on the fulfilment of the needs of its citizens, particularly the poor.  Some States had not greeted that “Cuban Spring” with the same enthusiasm with which they welcomed, assisted or instigated other, subsequent revolutionary movements.


Noting that the scale and scope of the Cuban embargo had no parallel in the modern world, he aligned with those calling for it to end.  He said no one in the Assembly Hall had the right to tell the United States how to conduct its foreign policy or who its friends should be.  At the same time, all Member States were obliged to uphold the Charter and reject instances where national foreign policy decisions “morphed into violations of international law”.


The embargo had been an “unmitigated failure” and had only caused suffering for the Cuban people.  While other unjust and antiquated structures had fallen, it alone remained as the last relic of a Cold War that otherwise only existed in the history books.  “[I]n an interconnected world of open borders, free movement of people, goods and capital, how can the architects of globalization simultaneously legislate the isolation of one State, or place extraterritorial restrictions on commerce, global trade and the movement of individuals?” he asked.  Citing President Obama’s inaugural address to the Assembly on demonstrating that international law was not an empty promise, he urged him to heed the overwhelming voice of the international community.


NIKOLAI OVSYANKO ( Belarus) said that the overwhelming majority of Member States had been demanding the end of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba for decades, regarding it as an uncivilized and unconstructive means of resolving international disagreements.  Unilateral sanctions negatively impacted the lives of the Cuban people, particularly given the economic and financial crises in the world today, which appeared to be about to embark on a second wave.


Noting that the blockade contradicted international law and United Nations decisions, he said that in the current system of international relations, there was no place for unilateral sanctions or other unilateral economic measures to pressure sovereign States.  Nations had the right to determine their own developmental paths.  He hoped that the voice of the General Assembly would be heard as it passed the resolution for the twentieth time.


YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) called for the conclusion of the unilateral economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba.  The measures undermined the principles of the Charter and of international law, as well as the rights of people to life, well-being and development.  In addition, although imposed unilaterally, the embargo impacted the economic and commercial interests and relations of third countries.  It had also severely affected the daily welfare of Cuban citizens and posed an unnecessary burden to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.


Since the embargo had initially been imposed, much had changed, he continued.  Globalization had created conditions for true global solidarity and partnership among nations.  Lifting the embargo would be in keeping with the spirit of the times.  “[T]he time is ripe for relations between the two main parties to be transformed through constructive engagement,” he said.  While encouraged by the small, but meaningful changes that had recently occurred, including the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba and the removal of obstacles to transfer of remittances, he called on all countries to adhere to the principles of equality, mutual respect, peaceful co-existence and good-neighbourliness and respect for human rights.


COLLIN BECK (Solomon Islands), associating himself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China, said that his delegation would again vote with the majority of United Nations Members in support of the resolution to end the blockade against Cuba.  He asked the United States, which had “absolute power” within the multilateral system, to examine its actions towards the people of Cuba through the lens of humanity and to renew its friendship with that country.


In a changing world, the rights, freedoms and laws that were frequently spoken of should be upheld with respect for States to adopt their own political systems, he said.  As a small island developing country, Solomon Islands believed in multilateralism and would vote in support of the resolution.


VITALY I. CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said his country’s position on the resolution was well-known and remained unchanged:  “we express total solidarity with the overwhelming majority of members of the international community who are strongly condemning the trade and economic embargo against Cuba”.  The anti-Cuba blockade had lasted almost half a century and had clearly been unable to influence Cuba’s sovereign choice of development model.  The only consequences of the sanctions had been deteriorated living standards for Cubans, artificial barriers to economic growth and infringements on third-country interests.


The United States’ unilateral, restrictive actions against Cuba had only created the opposite effect of what their instigators had intended during the Cold War, he said, adding that the current United States Administration had raised expectations about changes to Washington’s policy but had made only minimum steps.  He hoped the United States’ decision to end restrictions on visits by United States citizens to family in Cuba as well as on remittances and postal orders would be followed by steps to normalize relations with Cuba and to lift the embargo.  His Government strongly believed such moves would foster progressive social and economic reforms by the Cuban leadership.  The Russian Federation would vote in favour of today’s text.


Introduction and Action on Draft


BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the draft on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.  He said that through the Torricelli Act – the official action that had led to the “notorious” extraterritorial implementation of the blockade laws against third States - the United States had committed to strengthening the siege around the island of Cuba in a cruelly opportunistic manner.


The General Assembly had adopted the decision to include the current item in its agenda in 1991, he recalled, and, at that time, it had seemed impossible that the Assembly would still be discussing the matter 20 years later.  Indeed, for two decades, the Assembly had invariably called for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade by the United States.  In 1996, the Helms-Burton Act had expanded the unprecedented extraterritorial scope of the blockade and comprehensively typified the “change of regime” and eventual intervention in Cuba; no one knew if the “Bush Plan for Cuba” of 2004 had been abrogated.


The direct economic damage imposed exceeded $975 billion, he said, adding that the United States Government, in a 1960 referendum, had itself stated that the objectives pursued by the blockade had been to cause “disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship […] to weaken the economic life of Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and to overthrow the Government”.  Today, Cuba was still unable to freely export or import products or services of any sort to and from the United States, to use American dollars, or other restrictions.


He said that the ban on Cuban companies’ trade with American subsidiaries in third countries also remained unchanged, while entrepreneurs interested in investing in Cuba continued to be sanctioned, threatened or blacklisted.  In January 2011, more than $4 million in financing from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria - which was destined to fund projects in Cuba - had been confiscated; meanwhile, while there had been an “alleged” relaxation of laws preventing Americans from travelling to Cuba, the truth was that freedom of travel continued to be hampered.


Pointing out a number of other examples of the negative effects of the embargo – which, he stressed, were “endless” – he recalled that President Obama had recently responded with a “non-committal refusal” to an offer made by the Cuban Government to hold a dialogue on items on the bilateral agenda.  For its part, Cuba was changing its will, aiming for “more revolution and a better socialism”.  Indeed, the only thing that had not changed in the last 50 years had been the blockade and the “hostile and aggressive policy of the United States”.  Cuba would continue to promote equal opportunities for every child and would not abandon anyone to his or her own fate.  It would not renounce social programmes, not universal health and education.  It would continue to guarantee the right to work, the right to equal pay, and other rights.  “We will continue to believe in human values,” he said, adding that all Cuban citizens would continue to be able to exercise their human rights.


Family ties and the limited cultural, academic and scientific exchange that currently existed between the United States and Cuba showed how positive it would be to expand those links for the benefit of both people.  Cuba’s proposal to move towards normalization of relations and to expand bilateral cooperation in different areas still stood, he stressed, adding nonetheless that the five Cuban political prisoners serving unjust sentences in the United States or forbidden to return to Cuba must be released.  He further asked the community of nations to support the draft resolution currently before the Assembly.


Speaking in explanation of position before action on the text, the representative of the United States said that the draft resolution had been designed to “confuse and obscure”.  The United States reaffirmed its strong commitment to the right of the Cuban people to fully determine their own future, he stressed, adding that in fact, the Cuban regime had denied them of that right for more than half a century.  The United States further affirmed its right to determine its own bilateral interests in accordance with its own national values, and that included international relationships.  In that regard, its relationship with Cuba – of which the embargo was only one part - was a bilateral issue and a matter of national concern.


Indeed, the annual exercise by the Assembly attempted, “to no good end,” to obscure some fundamental truths.  The Cuban Government’s own policy was the largest obstacle to the country’s own development, concentrating political and economic decisions in the hands of the few and stifling economic growth.  The exercise further concealed the fact that the United States was a leading source of food and humanitarian aid to Cuba, and that it did not restrict aid to that country.  In 2010 alone, Cuba had received $3.5 billion in total sales of United States goods, including some $360 million in agricultural products.  It had also authorized $861 million in humanitarian assistance to Cuba.  Those figures alone were enough to rebut the “spurious allegations of genocide”, he stressed, adding that the charge greatly misused that important term and insulted its true victims.


Moreover, the draft and the “stale rhetoric around it” ignored some basic facts.  The United States was, in fact, open to a new relationship with Cuba, which could begin if the Cuban Government began to respect human rights and the rights of Cuban citizens to determine their own destiny.  Cuba should also release American citizen Alan Gross, who had been sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to connect the Cuban Jewish population to the Internet.  Recent changes in policy, made by President Obama, built upon the country’s previous engagement with Cuba, and showed the strong commitment of the United States to the Cuban people - contrary to the picture that had been painted throughout the current debate.


The United States was prepared to do its part, but improving the situation required efforts by the Cuban Government, as well.  It must ensure that the Cuban people enjoyed the freedoms on which the United Nations insisted in the cases of other countries, he stressed.  For those reasons, and because the resolution did not reflect current realities, the United States would vote against it.


Also speaking ahead of the vote, the representative of Nicaragua said the General Assembly would again demand an end to the embargo towards the Cuban people, and the United States was trying to justify and bend a people who would never bend, because they had a will of steel.  He made clear his support of the resolution, and expressed support regarding the updated information on the damages the United States was causing to Cuba with the most criminal embargo of the history of mankind.  He recognized Cuba’s generosity and humanism, and said, who if not Cuba was the first to step up when its neighbours were in need.


However, he said there was an attempt to destroy the Cuban socialist revolution by continuing to implement the embargo, and he said it must end now.  It had been clearly shown that nobody supported the embargo and it was time to correct the measures that violated humanitarian law and the United Nations Charter.  Even the people of the United States did not support this embargo and more voices were calling for an end to this inhumane policy.


He said that regional Governments, who along with Cuba tenaciously fought the embargo, considered blockade a policy of intervention in the region.  He said that the region would walk hand in hand until “this historic error” was made right.  He noted that the policy was an obstacle to Cuba’s development and called for its end.  Indeed, nobody was fooled “by more than 50 years of terrorist acts”.  One gesture would be to free the Cuban heroic patriots in prison, as they defended Cuba.  Once again, he expressed his strongest condemnation of this embargo, which was contrary to international law and a threat to peace and multilateralism, and an insult to human values.


The Assembly then adopted the resolution on ending the embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba (document A/66/L.4) by a recorded vote of 186 in favour to 2 against (United States, Israel) with 3 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Palau, Micronesia).  (See Annex)


Explanations of Vote after the Vote


The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said his delegation opposed extraterritorial measures taken in United States law, such as the Helms-Burton and Torricelli Acts.  Those measures must not be allowed to affect commercial relations between Cuba and EU member States.  The Union’s position regarding relations with Cuba had been set out in 1996 and reflected a common position.  He sought a result-oriented engagement with Cuba and reaffirmed the Union’s commitment to continuing dialogue with the Cuban Government, civil society and other actors.


Reiterating the right of the Cuban people to decide their own future, he welcomed the Cuban Government’s release of 75 political prisoners, and called upon it to recognize the civil and political rights of its people and to accede to the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  Noting the negative impact of the embargo on the Cuban people, he rejected all unilateral measures against Cuba that were contrary to international law.  The European Union had unanimously voted in favour of the resolution.


Namibia’s representative said that this year marked the twentieth anniversary the Assembly had acted on a similar resolution on the embargo, but the blockade was still in place.  That was in stark contrast to the overwhelming appeal by the international community to end this unjust policy against the people of Cuba.  In fact, the debate would not have been necessary had the United States lifted the blockade years ago.  His delegation voted in favour of the draft resolution because he believed in the principle of peaceful coexistence of all nations, respect for sovereign equality, open trade among nations, and above all, the spirit of good neighbourliness.


The imposition of the blockade against Cuba was an outdated form of punishment.  His delegation remained concerned about the promulgation and application of laws and measures constituting economic embargo against any friendly and peaceful country.  He said that Namibia had always maintained the view that the blockade ran counter to the spirit of the United Nations Charter, international law and the Millennium Declaration.  The same blockade continued to cause irreparable damage to the economic, social and cultural development of Cuba as it deprived its people of the opportunities emanating from free trade.


The Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts were extraterritorial in nature and, thus, interfered with the sovereign rights of Cuba and violated the rules of international trading systems.  He was convinced that the two neighbouring countries would both benefit from the normalization of relations and the removal of restrictions between them.  “In our view, all human rights, be they political, cultural or economic, are inseparable.  Through the blockade, the people of Cuba are being denied these basic fundamental human rights just because of the political system they have chosen,” he said.  Thus, Namibia voted in favour of the draft resolution, and expressed solidarity with the people of Cuba.


Also speaking in explanation of vote, the representative of Zambia said the Assembly found itself in a situation that reminded his delegation of “Humpty Dumpty” who said that “words only mean that which I want them to”.  As such, he asked what democracy was if the universal resolutions of the United Nations that called for the lifting of sanctions are routinely ignored. 


“What is the rule of law if General Assembly resolutions that declare sanctions illegal continue to be ignored?” and “Is the law only a law when [one] decides it is a law?”  When the international community talked about sovereign equality of nations, did that principle only apply when it concerned the sovereignty of “someone we like?”  It was thought that true freedom embraced a diversity of opinion, thought and political systems.  Indeed freedom also meant the right to be wrong.  He said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution because “it is the right thing to do”.


The representative of Iran said that the overwhelming support for the resolution reflected the common understanding and will of the international community concerning the “inhumane and illegitimate” embargo imposed by the United States against the Cuban Government and people.  Depriving civilian populations of their economic and social rights infringed upon their basic human rights and was therefore illegal.  Indeed, this was the main feature of the sanctions as known today.  Such measures were illegal largely because economic sanctions were a tool to impose hegemonic intentions of big powers; sanctions always ended in targeting daily lives of civilians; sanctions had proven to be futile and there was no strong proof that independent nations compromised their revered national interests to hegemonic powers due to sanctions.


The most deplorable form of sanctions was the imposition of unilateral blockades and extraterritorial application of domestic laws by one State.  Numerous international documents had called for swift invalidation of all such measures.  Indeed, one wondered what more should be done to convince the Government of the United States to lift the inhumane and futile economic blockade.  He said his delegation strongly rejected and remained opposed to the application of unilateral and economic trade measures by one State against another, as well as to the extraterritorial application and effects of national legislation on the sovereignty of other States.


The representative of Zimbabwe said the last 20 years had heard an overwhelming number of States call for the end of the Cuban embargo, a blockade which violated international law and countered the United Nations Charter, to which the United States was a founding signatory.  It also frustrated Cuba’s efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals and denied the country access to markets, development aid and technology transfer, all of which were vital to its development.  Zimbabwe understood the difficulties associated with such ill-conceived measures, as it also had fallen victim to them.  Her Government rejected the passage of laws with the goal of achieving regime change.  Cuban national pride had taken root to defeat such foreign interference.  She expressed solidarity with the Government and people of Cuba and had voted in favour of today’s text.


The representative of Ecuador congratulated Cuba on today’s victory.  Ecuador had voted in favour of the resolution which was counter to international law and the principles of peaceful interaction among States.  The blockade jeopardized the Cuban people.  He demanded an end to the blockade and all unilateral actions counter to international law and appealed to common sense to end the blockade.


The representative of Nigeria, aligning with the Group of 77 and China, as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, supported States’ inalienable right to determine their own development model.  Nigeria was “uncomfortable” with the embargo against Cuba, as it countered multilateralism, international law, sovereignty and free trade, principles the Assembly had championed for years.  Nigeria opposed the punishment of innocent people and, thus, favoured the dismantling of both the structures that enforced the embargo and the logic underpinning its existence.  For such reasons, Nigeria had voted in favour of the resolution.


Also speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Myanmar said that his delegation supported Cuba, particularly regarding the situation of that country’s elderly, women and children.  The hardships set in motion by the embargo affected the innocent people of Cuba, and went against the sovereign equality outlined in the United Nations Charter.  Moreover, the measures deviated from international law.


Brazil’s speaker said that the economic, financial and social blockade against Cuba had been rejected by the great majority of Member States, including his own country, for the twentieth time in as many years.  It went against international law and inhibited regional relations.  Although measures announced by Washington last January had been positive, they did not change the situation or mitigate the suffering of the Cuban people.  Brazil had voted in favour of the resolution.


Syria’s representative said the Cuban embargo contravened the principles of international law, including humanitarian law, the sovereign equality between States, non-intervention and freedom of navigation and trade.  It was illegal and challenged the legal credibility of United States’ policies.  Such measures had been imposed by the United States and other European countries with the goal of weakening some States, attempting to force them to adopt certain measures or change their policies.


He said the embargo had caused more than $10 billion in damage to the Cuban economy and violated human rights.  Despite that the Assembly had issued resolutions for 20 years, the embargo remained.  Sanctions imposed on developing countries, including Syria, constituted collective punishment under the pretext of maintaining human rights.  He called for ending the embargo and hostile policies pursued outside the framework of international law.  For such reasons, Syria voted in favour of the resolution.


In explanation of the vote, the representative of Gambia said in light of the global economic crisis, this was neither the time nor the season to impose sanctions or reinforce them.  Even in the best of times, they inflicted untold suffering.  As the global financial crisis continued unabated all nations were under constant pressure from the negative impact of the crisis.  The economic embargo could be characterized as “aggression” against a sovereign State, with a negative downstream effect, particularly on vulnerable groups. 


Many delegations pointed out that the sanctions undermined the capacity of Cuba to obtain the Millennium Development Goals.  In light of all that, Gambia was consistent in its support of denouncing the sanctions and calling for the repeal of laws relating to Cuba.  Gambia had supported the resolution of this august body, out of the necessity of ending the sanctions.  In conclusion, she aligned herself with the statements made by the Group of 77, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.


Sudan’s representative said that the international community had rejected unilateral coercive measures that crossed borders.  Continued support for the resolution revealed “total rejection” of the embargo, as it violated the basic principles of the Charter, international law and norms governing national economic and commercial relations between States, and inhibited development.  Since 1997, Sudan too had suffered from such unilateral measures by the United States with deleterious effect on the people’s well-being.  He condemned the imposition of such measures on developing countries and called for a world where all States lived in peace.  That required commitment to the Charter’s principles and to sound management of international relations.  He urged States that had taken unilateral measures against other States to repeal them.


The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic said that for the twentieth consecutive year, the Assembly had adopted, by an overwhelming majority, a resolution demanding an end to the embargo against Cuba, and called on all States to respect the Charter and norms of international law.  It also called for an end to all measures whose extraterritorial effects threatened the sovereignty of States or the legitimate interests of persons under their jurisdiction.


Despite such calls, the embargo and its extraterritorial aspects seriously violated the goals and principles of the Charter and relevant United Nations resolutions, he said, which had caused considerable economic losses for Cubans.  The embargo also had impeded efforts to eliminate poverty, promote economic and social development and attain the Millennium Development Goals.  Reiterating his opposition to the embargo, he reaffirmed his country’s solidarity with the Cuban people and joined international calls to end the embargo.


The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis voted in favour of today’s text and said that Cuba was among his country’s closest allies.  Saint Kitts and Nevis also respected the United States’ role in international relations and recognized its recent concessions related to the embargo.  “However, that is not enough.  Friends must tell friends when they are wrong or misguided,” he said.  In supporting the resolution, his country continued to be an advocate of that truth.


Supporting the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention and the strengthened role of the United Nations in international affairs, he said Saint Kitts and Nevis did not support measures that impeded free trade.  Nor did it apply laws that had extraterritorial effect.  It felt strongly about ending the Cuban embargo.  Cuba was a pan-Caribbean partner, and the embargo’s negative impact on it was “profound and unfair”.  Amid a global recession, the embargo stunted Cuba’s development, which contravened the principles held dear by those imposing it.  It also impeded progress, which was why he had voted in favour of today’s resolution and called on both sides to find common ground.


The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that today was the twentieth year the topic was being debated.  In addition, for many decades, major documents had been adopted at international and regional meetings on the issue, and there were more calls than ever to end the blockade against Cuba.  Yet, those sanctions remained in place a full decade into the new century.  The embargo was aimed at destroying the socialist system, even though the Cuban people had chosen that system freely.


The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea condemned strongly the economic embargo as it violated the Charter and had been “flagrantly imposed” on the sovereignty of Cuba and its people.  Once again, he urged the United States to lift the economic, commercial and financial embargo at the soonest possible time.  Finally, he expressed support and solidarity with the Cuban people to preserve their sovereignty in the face of the embargo.


Argentina’s representative said his country had voted in favour of the resolution and would fully implement it.  Foreign laws were not valid when they claimed to have extraterritorial effect, including through extending an economic blockade with the goal of changing a Government.  His delegation’s vote today reflected a position that favoured an end to unilateral measures and a commitment to multilateralism.  The Cuban embargo countered the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.  It endured, despite the numerous international calls against it.  Rejecting the embargo, he reiterated his firm support for Cuba.


The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, aligning with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, as in past years, his delegation had voted against the embargo for the Cuban people who had suffered so long under it.  Despite the call for the embargo’s end, the people of Cuba continued to suffer as though the international community did not care.


“Whenever the bulls fight, it’s the grass which gets hurt,” he said, reciting an adage from his country which adequately reflected the adverse effect on common people of any embargo, he said.  It was high time to end the suffering once and for all.  Despite encouraging measures taken by the United States since 2009, the embargo continued to severely constrain Cuba’s development and improvement of the standard of living of its citizens.  He supported direct dialogue between the parties to resolve their differences for the betterment of Cuba’s citizens.


The representative of Angola said the Assembly had once again adopted a resolution urging all countries to withdraw laws and regulations with extraterritorial measures that undermined State sovereignty.  He was perplexed as to why the United States embargo against Cuba remained in place, as it violated State sovereignty and encroached on the rights of persons, entities and companies under State jurisdiction to establish or propose economic, commercial, financial or scientific relations with Cuba.  He urged international support for more engagement between the two countries, with a view to identifying a solution.


He went on to say that the Secretary-General’s report stated there had been no improvement towards ending the embargo, a measure that had severely penalized Cubans by preventing economic programmes from being carried out.  Angola adhered to the Charter and respected all Assembly resolutions, he said, reiterating his country’s commitment to international law, which supported the elimination of all coercive economic measures as a means of political persuasion.  Angola had voted in favour of the resolution, as the embargo flagrantly violated the right to sovereignty and equality among States, as well as the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.


Right of Reply


Exercising his delegation’s right of reply, Cuba’s speaker said he was taking the floor to counter the “flagrant lies” by the United States delegate in defence of the policies of former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.  He agreed that the blockade was just “one facet” of the United States’ policy against Cuba.  Other acts included subversion, the deployment of agents on Cuban territory and CIA cover operations.  He would ensure that the Geneva Convention on Genocide reached the United States’ delegate’s desk, as his country was responsible for extrajudicial executions, torture, kidnapping and use of secret jails in Europe.  The United States even maintained a “concentration camp” on illegally occupied land in Guantánamo.


There were strict relations between the two countries that could not be described as trade relations, he said, because provisions in the international trade system were routinely flouted.  The United States’ delegate also had lied when he cited humanitarian aid provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Rather than wage wars, the United States would do better to heed the voice of its own people, notably those down in Wall Street, who were complaining about an absence of true democracy in the United States, about corporations that placed profit before people, and about the triumph of egoism over justice.  People were complaining they had lost their homes, lost pensions and lost social security, while the rich received bonuses.


He went on to say that more than 3,000 United States citizens were now on death row, adding that just a few weeks ago, the world had watched aghast as Troy Davis had been executed.  While the United States delegate had said a United States citizen was being held in Cuba for connecting the Jewish community to the Internet, he also understood that that person had committed a crime that was subject to sanctions in the United States.  Moreover, the five Cubans suffering under cruel and degrading conditions for trying to avert terrorist acts against the United States should be freed.  The political battle being waged today was for an end to the Cuban blockade and a system that engendered injustice, he said.


ANNEX


Vote on Ending United States Embargo against Cuba


The draft resolution on the Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States against Cuba (document A/66/L.4) was adopted by a recorded vote of 186 in favour to 2 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea‑Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor‑Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Israel, United States.


Abstain:  Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Palau.


Absent:  Libya, Sweden.


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For information media • not an official record