United States Delegate Says Cuban Policies to Blame for Economic Woes
The General Assembly today adopted a resolution which for the twenty-third year in a row called for an end to the United States economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba.
Exposing an intractable demarcation of the international community, 188 Member States voted in favour and, as in previous years, the United States and Israel voted against. Three small island States — Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Palau — abstained from the vote.
By the terms of the text, the Assembly reiterated its call upon States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and regulations, such as the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, the extraterritorial effects of which affected the sovereignty of other States, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.
It once again urged States that had and continued to apply such laws to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible, in line with their obligations under the United Nations Charter and international law.
In recent times, the blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba had been tightened, and its extraterritorial implementation had also been strengthened through the imposition of unprecedented fines, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba told the Assembly as he introduced the draft resolution. The accumulated economic damages of the blockade totalled $1.1 trillion, based on the price of gold.
The representative of the target of the resolution, the United States, disagreed with that assessment, saying in a statement explaining its negative vote that Cuba’s economic woes were due to the policies it had pursued over the last half century. And while Cuba’s fight against Ebola was laudable, it did not excuse the country’s treatment of its own people.
It was a sentiment echoed to some degree by Italy’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, who after criticizing the embargo reiterated the Union’s call on the Cuban Government to fully grant its citizens internationally recognized civil, political and economic rights and freedoms.
But regionally, Barbados’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), chose to focus on how students from CARICOM countries had benefited from free tertiary education in Cuba, also noting with appreciation that Cuba was in the process of mobilizing 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa — the largest medical contingent of any country to help in the fight against Ebola.
The representative of Iran, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that Cuba’s medical assistance to West Africa was further proof of the constructive role that Cuba played in international affairs.
All walks of life were affected when a country was under sanctions, observed Sudan’s representative. It was a sentiment echoed by the delegate of Myanmar, who said that having experienced similar unilateral sanctions for decades Myanmar fully understood from its own experience the degree of suffering caused by the sanctions, which directly affected the innocent people of Cuba. Constructive dialogue was necessary to promote confidence and understanding, and the embargo and coercive measures should be replaced by dialogue and cooperation.
Also speaking at today’s meeting were the representatives of Bolivia (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Malawi (on behalf of the African Group), Costa Rica (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Argentina (in its national capacity and on behalf of the Southern Common Market), Russian Federation, Mexico, India, Algeria, Viet Nam, China, Solomon Islands, Egypt, Venezuela, South Africa, Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Belarus, United Republic of Tanzania, Nicaragua, Syria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Angola, El Salvador and Ecuador.
The General Assembly will meet again tomorrow, at 10 a.m. to elect 20 members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination and also to elect 18 members of the Economic and Social Council.
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/69/98) as well as an eponymous draft resolution on the matter (document A/69/L.4).
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Movement had always reiterated the call for the United States to put an end to its unilateral economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba. The embargo was contrary to international law, the United Nations Charter as well as the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among States. The embargo had adversely impacted the well-being of the people of Cuba. The United States had denied Cuba access to markets, development aid and technology transfers as well as created impediments for Cuba’s socioeconomic development.
The embargo was also the main obstacle to broader access to the Internet, ideas, and the development of cultural, sport and scientific relations, he said. The continuation of the embargo was unjustifiable and ran counter to Cuba’s efforts to achieve sustainable development, and it encroached on the legitimate rights and interests of Cuban nationals. Cuba’s role in the fight against Ebola was evident in the large number of health care workers deployed from that country to West Africa. It was further proof of the constructive role that Cuba played in international affairs.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that public health was undermined by the embargo, which also affected banking, external trade and investment, and international cooperation, among other things. The embargo caused substantial costs to the Cuban economy in areas such as tourism, energy, mining and transport. The United States should put an end to the inhumane embargo, and the international community should adopt measures to prevent coercive unilateral measures against developing countries. Denouncing the persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions abroad, the Group firmly rejected the inclusion of Cuba on the United States list of States that sponsored terrorism.
Despite Cuba’s difficulties because of the embargo, the country had consistently supplied medical assistance at an international level of highest quality, he said. More than 50,000 health workers trained in Cuba were providing services in 66 countries, including helping in Sierra Leone on the front-lines of the Ebola crisis. Speaking in his national capacity, he said his country had told the Cuban Government and people that while their foreign trade could be affected and medications could be prevented from reaching them, Cuba’s rebellious nature would never be embargoed.
CHARLES P. MSOSA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said economic sanctions against Cuba had caused great economic hardship, especially on the poor and vulnerable populations in the country. An immediate end to the economic embargo against Cuba was necessary and could serve to promote better social conditions and living standards for the people of Cuba. In that regard, the Group encouraged the use of dialogue to solve the issue, therefore allowing Cuba to contribute to global development. In June, at the twenty-third ordinary session of the African Union, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their full support for the Assembly’s resolution on the matter. He reiterated their invitation to the United States Government to end the longstanding embargo against Cuba.
JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reiterated that the embargo imposed on Cuba by a member of the Assembly was contrary to the letter, spirit, principles and purposes of the Charter and international law. Today the embargo had been transformed into a strict system of unilateral measures that had continued over time, creating severe economic losses for the Cuban people. CELAC reiterated its concern already expressed in Assembly resolution 68/8 regarding the application by States of laws, such as the United States Helms-Burton Act, which extraterritoriality affected the sovereignty of other States.
In the last year, several restrictions and fines had been imposed on international companies, some of them belonging to members of the Community, he said. The Caribbean States had called to put an end to the persecution of Cuba’s international financial transactions abroad, which had been exacerbated by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control. CELAC States had adopted on 29 September 2014 a special communiqué concerning the strengthening of the extraterritorial dimension of the blockade against Cuba as well as the increasing persecution of Cuban financial transactions. The Community was strongly in favour of the resolution and made an urgent call to the United States to align its relevant national legislation with the Charter, United Nations resolutions and the views of the Community.
ABDULMOHSEN F. A. ALYAS (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, rejected unilateral sanctions. The debate over the United States embargo against Cuba had been going on since 1991, when the item had been added to the agenda of the Assembly. Despite some minor progress, the impact of which had been limited, the embargo was still in effect, and that affected the welfare of the Cuban people. The embargo had impeded efforts to eliminate poverty as well as efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation opposed any unilateral action which had effects on another State and its people, and called for ending the embargo against Cuba, in line with relevant Assembly resolutions.
JOSEPH GODDARD (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the people of Cuba had endured severe economic loss and stagnation, which prevented the expansion of Cuba’s commercial ties with the rest of the world. As a bloc of states, CARICOM attached great value to the strength that lied in collective capacity, promoting the principles of multilateralism, sovereignty and free trade. In that regard, CARICOM had remained unstinting in its solidarity with Cuba and in calling for an end to the United States Helms-Burton Law, which ran counter to the letter and spirit of the Charter and served no justifiable legal, political or moral purpose in contemporary international relations.
Despite significant challenges, Cuba continued to show itself to be a key regional and international partner and actor, he said. In the Caribbean subregion, Cuba had built hospitals and clinics, provided medicines and medical personnel. Students from CARICOM countries had benefited from free tertiary education in Cuba. He noted with appreciation that Cuba was in the process of mobilizing 461 doctors and nurses to West Africa — the largest medical contingent of any country to help in the fight against Ebola. CARICOM member States had continued excellent relations with all countries in the region, including Cuba. In that spirit, the Community joined the international community in calling for an immediate end to the embargo. He urged the United States Government to engage in a constructive dialogue and to normalize its relations with Cuba. Such a step would remove a source of tension and conflict and improve prospects for peace, development and cooperation within the Latin American and Caribbean region.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said the humanitarian and social costs and the anachronistic rationale of the embargo were obvious to all. MERCOSUR was founded on the principle of solidarity, interdependence and good relations, and tolerance was the foundation for the convergence of people from around the world. The embargo violated the principles of the Charter and international law, particularly concerning the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs, freedom of international trade and the peaceful settlement of disputes. It also violated the principles of justice and human rights.
MERCOSUR lamented the fact that the unilaterally imposed embargo had been in place for over half a century and remained unchanged, he said. The Community rejected out of principle the unilateral and extraterritorial measures, which caused irreparable harm to the well-being of people and obstructed regional integration, he said. The economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on Cuba was nothing but an example of obsolete policies that had no place in today’s world. MERCOSUR believed that the time had come to end it.
VITALY I. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that a swift lifting of the embargo against Cuba was a necessity. The United States embargo was not in line with the Charter and had a pernicious impact on the international system. The embargo’s ongoing existence undermined the growth of Cuba and its meeting of the sustainable development goals. Nevertheless, the Cuban people were some of the first people assisting West Africa in fighting Ebola. The Russian Federation and a majority of Member States were decisively in favour of an urgent lifting of the embargo. He supporting the draft resolution before the Assembly and urged all others to vote in favour as well.
YANERIT MORGAN (Mexico) rejected unilateral actions against Cuba, including the imposition of the embargo for more than five decades, and reiterated that the only bodies able to apply economic sanctions were the Security Council and the Assembly. Despite the circumstances it had faced, Cuba had a high level of human development and had more than satisfactorily met the Millennium Development Goals. Applauding the actions of the Cuban Government, she said the country based its foreign policy on solidarity, and that could be seen in its fight against Ebola. The elimination of the embargo against Cuba would enable the country to access trade; that would benefit the whole region.
AMIT NARANG (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the continued existence of the embargo against Cuba undermined multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations itself. It was a violation of the right of a sovereign State to development and to enjoy the freedom of trade, economy and navigation. At a time of slow recovery from the global financial crisis, the embargo had had a deleterious effect on the Cuban economy. The extraterritorial application of the embargo had discouraged investment and technology transfer and suppressed other forms of business collaborations between Cuba and other countries. In today’s age of the Internet, it was paradoxical that the embargo had contributed to the significantly low level of Internet penetration in Cuba. India joined other nations and called for the immediate end to embargo.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77, Group of African States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reiterated Algeria’s deep concern over the continuation of the economic, commercial and financial embargo unilaterally imposed for more than five decades by the United States against Cuba. No one could deny that the blockade had had a negative effect on the Cuban people and had caused huge material losses and economic damages to that country. The embargo frustrated efforts to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and negatively impacted South-South cooperation and international cooperation. Algeria would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, said her country shared the view of the international community that the embargo contravened the purpose and principles of the Charter and international law and violated international norms governing relations among States. The embargo had resulted in enormous suffering for Cuba’s people and hindered investment and commercial relations with other countries and efforts by Cuba to achieve its Millennium Development Goals. Despite the hardships, Cuba had attained significant achievements, especially in education and healthcare. The deployment of 165 Cuban medical professionals in West Africa to fight Ebola had clearly demonstrated that the country was an active and responsible member of the international community. She called for the United States to fully implement the resolution and to end its embargo against Cuba.
WANG MIN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the Assembly had for 22 consecutive years adopted a resolution on the necessity of ending the embargo on Cuba. Regrettably, those resolutions had not been effectively implemented. The continuing blockade was, in addition to being a violation of the purposes and principles of the Charter, a source of economic and financial losses for Cuba. China and Cuba maintained normal economic and trade relations, and that approach was conducive to Cuba’s economic and social development. His Government hoped that the United States would put an end to its blockade against Cuba as soon as possible.
COLLIN D. BECK (Solomon Islands) said his country and eight other Pacific Islands had contributed to the Secretary-General’s report. The draft resolution before the Assembly upheld the principles of the Charter and called for respect for the sovereign equality of States, and for non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of States. Such principles were central to the foreign policy of the Solomon Islands. It was more than 50 years since the United States had imposed a unilateral embargo on Cuba. The United States’ contribution to fight Ebola and Cuba’s sending of personnel to the affected countries sent a message of hope. Both countries, united for a common cause, could do more for the world. He appealed for strong political will from the United States to lift the embargo on Cuba and allow trust, confidence-building and cooperation between the two Governments to develop and expand.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) said that though the world had changed substantially since the United States imposed its unjust and unjustifiable unilateral embargo on Cuba, the block persisted, in violation of international law. But despite its detrimental repercussions, the Cuban Government had made enormous efforts to meet the needs of its people. In the globalized world, the Cuban people could still survive, thanks to their perseverance. The embargo was a cold war relic, increasingly difficult to justify morally and politically. He urged the United States to immediately comply with all Assembly resolutions since 1992 that called for the immediate end to the embargo.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) reiterated its rejection of the embargo, which was a flagrant violation of international law and the Charter. The United States had deliberately ignored the appeals of the international community, and with its dismissive attitude towards international opinion it had become the most isolated country in the world. He reiterated Venezuela’s condemnation of the application of the United States Torricelli and Helms-Burton acts. The embargo systematically violated the rights of the Cuban citizens. Food, equipment and services to meet the needs of its people were impacted. The embargo was also extended to the world of finance. The conduct of the United States ran counter to the Charter. Venezuela would vote in favour of the Assembly resolution calling for an end to the embargo.
JEREMIAH NYAMANE KINGSLEY MAMABOLO (South Africa), aligning with the Group of 77, Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, commended the Secretary-General for his report on the necessity of ending the embargo against Cuba. The United States had ignored the overwhelming will of the international community to lift the embargo. The embargo was a long-standing obstacle to Cuba’s right to develop. It was draconian legislation and failed to respect the rights of the Cuban people. The embargo would have to end now lest history would “not forgive us”. The United States unilateral action was counter to the letter and spirit of international law and the Charter. The embargo impacted unfavourably on foreign trade and indirect investment in the country. Despite all these challenges the Cuban people remained resilient. Cuba and South Africa had enjoyed good relations for a long time. He reiterated that South Africa would support the resolution proposed by Cuba.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said that the embargo was contrary to international law and to the spirit of the Charter. Together with all Latin American and Caribbean countries, her country had expressed its support to Cuba, voting in favour of previous iterations of the resolution under debate by the Assembly today. That support was reflected in the 188 votes in favour the resolution had received at the last session of Assembly. She stated her country’s support for international law and the principles of self-determination of peoples, as well as non-interference in internal matters.
GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, reiterated his Government’s rejection of the embargo against Cuba, which affected the well-being of that country’s citizens. Calling on Governments to comply with previous resolutions of the Assembly, his Government urged a show of commitment to international law, diplomacy and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Measures in contradiction of international law were unacceptable, in particular when they had an effect on humanitarian assistance. Blockades and embargoes affected human rights, women and children, and the poorest of the nation. Cooperation with Cuba was systematically made more difficult by the illegal and illegitimate embargo.
CHIBAULA DAVID SILWAMBA (Zambia), aligning with Iran’s statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed great concern that after 52 years of an embargo and 22 consecutive Assembly resolutions calling for an end to the unilateral coercive measures against Cuba, little had changed on the ground. Regretting the untold suffering of the Cuban people due to the embargo, his delegation strongly supported the resolution before the Assembly. Zambia remained concerned over the continued application of the 1996 United States Helms-Burton Act. He applauded Cuba’s people and leaders for their resilience. They had remained steadfast and risen above the challenges through hard work and dedication for the advancement of the country. He strongly urged the United States Government to lift the embargo. He welcomed the Cuban Government’s passage in March 2014 of a law aiming at attracting more foreign investment and easing travel restrictions.
VADIM PISAREVICH (Belarus) said the imposition of sanctions against Cuba by the United States created artificial barriers. It was counterproductive and could lead to the stoking of tensions in relations between States. Belarus had continued to feel the negative impact of economic sanctions by the United States and the European Union. That trend was prompting other Western States to take actions as a way to subordinate other States. A report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) unanimously stated that unilateral measures resulted in the violation of human rights. Innocent civilians were doubly punished. Belarus was in favour of the draft resolution.
RAMADHAN MWINYI (United Republic of Tanzania) expressed his solidarity with the Cuban people and said that it was with profound regret that he once again stood at the rostrum to speak on this resolution, despite the many resolutions already adopted by the Assembly. It was regrettable because the delay had continued to undermine the goals of the United Nations. Every unfulfilled or unimplemented resolution was a grand failure to its entire membership. It was regrettable that a founding Member of the Organization continued to ignore the call to end the embargo against Cuba. Its promulgation had extraterritorial implications. He strongly believed that the time had come for Cuba and the United States to mend their relations. The Ebola outbreak had exposed the true flaws of humanity. The international community could not afford to miss out on this “historic opportunity”. Nations had to work together to survive; the alternative was to die. “Let us work together for the good of humanity,” he said.
Action on Draft Resolution
BRUNO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the draft resolution on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba (document A/69/L.4). He said that as the Assembly met for the twenty-third time to consider the same issue of the embargo against Cuba, the world was at a very peculiar international juncture characterized by serious threats to international peace and security. Wars, terrorist actions, climate change and most recently the Ebola virus were an unprecedented combination of problems that tended towards making human life unsustainable. None of them could be resolved unless the international community established a genuine cooperation.
In recent times, the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba had been tightened, and its extraterritorial implementation had also been strengthened through the imposition of unprecedented fines, totalling $11 billion against 38 banks, among them French bank BNP Paribas, for carrying out transactions with Cuba and other countries, he said. The accumulated economic damages of the blockade totalled $1.1 trillion, based on the price of gold. The human damages were on the rise.
Still, Cuba had offered every possible form of assistance to the United States in the wake of disasters there, such as in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he said. Cuba had never been a threat to the national security of the United States. Opinion polls showed that there was increasing support from all sectors of United States society for lifting the blockade. Religious leaders had citied legitimate, indisputable ethical and humanitarian reasons.
The blockade was harmful to Cuba, but it was also harmful to the United States, he said. The “absurd and ridiculous” inclusion of Cuba on the United States list of States that sponsored international terrorism redounded to the discredit of the United States. Cuba would never renounce its sovereignty or the path chosen by its people to build a more just, efficient, prosperous and sustainable socialism. Neither, he continued, would his Government give up its quest for a different international order, nor cease in its struggle for “the equilibrium of the world”.
Explaining his vote before action was taken, the representative of the United States said that consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he stood in opposition to the resolution. The Cuban Government used the resolution to attempt to shift blame away from its own policy failures. Cuba’s economic woes were due to the policies it had pursued over the last half century. Greater employment opportunities and liberalization of the real estate market in Cuba were necessary as were other changes. Cuba would not thrive until it committed to a free and fair market, allowed unfettered access to information, opened its State-run monopolies and adopted the sound economic policies of its neighbours.
The United States remained a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people, he said. United States remittances and other contributions to Cuba totalled as much as $2 billion annually. The United States was one of Cuba’s principle trading partners, exporting $309 million in products to Cuba in 2013. Far from restricting aid to the Cuban people, the United States was a leading supplier of humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people. The United States placed high priority on forging connections between people in the two countries. The hundreds of thousands of United States citizens who had sent remittances and travelled to Cuba remained the best ambassadors for the United States democratic ideals. The United States strongly supported the Cuban peoples’ desire for information and the right to receive any media. Cuba’s policies were what continued to reject that right.
The Cuban Government had failed to allow widespread access to its high speed internet through Venezuela and continued to blame United States policy for that lack of access, he said. He called on the Cuban authorities to immediately release Alan Gross and to “tear down the digital wall of censorship”. Cuba’s fight against Ebola was laudable, but it did not excuse its treatment of its own people. The Cuban people should be able to choose their own future.
The representative of Nicaragua, also in explanation of vote, said she was in favour of the resolution. Nicaragua felt first hand all that happened to the “brother people and Government of Cuba”. The blockade was the most prolonged and ruthless exercise in contemporary times. The United States had continued to worsen the blockade especially in the banking and financial sectors. The figures put forward by the representative of Cuba about the impact on the development and life of the Cuban people saddened and infuriated her. The blockade was the main obstacle to sustainable development and Cuba’s economic and social programmes. With the Ebola epidemic, Cuba, as always, was at the forefront of the fight in defence of developing countries. She condemned the inhumane blockade against Cuba and demanded its immediate cease. She expressed hope that the United States would decide to rectify its policy and end its own isolation.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 188 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau).
Explaining his vote after that action, the representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that though the United States trade policy towards Cuba was a bilateral issue, extraterritorial legislation and unilateral administrative and judicial measures were negatively influencing European Union interests. Opposing such measures, the European Union could not accept that unilaterally imposed measures impeded its economic and commercial relations with Cuba. The European Union reiterated its call on the Cuban Government to fully grant its citizens internationally recognized civil, political and economic rights and freedoms.
The representative of Syria, associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 and China, said the embargo had created a deplorable precedent and had put Cuba and its people under a lot of social and economic pressure. It had deepened the suffering of the Cuban people and had caused economic damage. The embargo was illegitimate and inhumane and contravened the Charter and the principle of State sovereignty. It also contravened other international instruments for human rights and international trade. Despite the number of resolutions approved and decisions made by other organizations, the embargo was still in force as if nothing had happened, as if the discussion was just mere talk for the weak. The fact that Israel had voted with the United States was proof that it was voting against international law. The coercive measures by the United States and its ally represented a breach of United States law and were a tool by the United States to impose its hegemony. He expressed hope that the United States would abide by today’s vote in the Assembly. Syria had voted in favour of the resolution.
The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic expressed his country’s sympathy to the innocent people of Cuba, who had continued to endure misery caused by the embargo. The blockade violated international law, was against the purposes of the Charter, and was a transgression against the right of a sovereign State to peace, development and security. No nation had the right to interfere in the legitimate interests of other States. Cuba had chosen its own political system and path of development that best suited its specific conditions. Last year 188 Members voted in favour of the Assembly’s resolution, and this year, 188 Members had just voted in favour of it. That was irrefutable proof that the battle for lifting of the blockade was supported by the vast majority of Member States. In that spirit, his delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution.
The representative of Argentina welcomed the fact that the Assembly had overwhelmingly adopted a new resolution on the blockade and congratulated the Cuban Government and its Mission. Argentina rejected the embargo policy against Cuba that had been carried out by the United States for half a century. In addition to being morally unjustifiable, the embargo violated the spirit of multilateralism, and was immoral, unjust, and illegal. It also had humanitarian effects, causing irreparable harm to the Cuban people and damage to Cuba’s foreign trade in the billions of dollars. Despite limitations imposed by the blockade, Cuba was a leader in various areas of cooperation, whose contributions in the area of health were notable.
The representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, associating with the statements made by CARICOM, Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and CELAC, said her country voted in favour of the draft resolution. The embargo remained stubbornly in place, and its negative effects had intensified. The embargo was contrary to the principles and purposes of the Charter, and a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of the rights of an entire people. It was not merely a bilateral matter between Cuba and the United States. Due to its extraterritorial nature, the embargo violated the sovereign rights of many other States. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines remained unequivocal in its call for the removal of that development constraint on its Caribbean neighbour.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the United States blockade against Cuba was a legacy of the cold war and was intended to overthrow the legitimate social system that had been chosen by the Cuban people. The unilateral and extraterritorial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba deserved the strongest condemnation of the United Nations and the international community. The criminal blockade by the United States had caused losses of more than $1.1 trillion in the economic and social fields of Cuba, had impacted third countries and remained an obstacle to Cuba’s development. He strongly urged the United States to immediately abandon its blockade.
The representative of Sudan, associating himself with the Group of 77, Non‑Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said he voted in favour of the draft resolution. Again the Assembly had spoken in one voice in total condemnation of the embargo. The great support lent to the resolution emphasized the illegal and aggressive policies of the United States against Cuba. The embargo represented interference in another State, was illegal and undemocratic, and required total condemnation by the international community. His country had been beset since 1997 by unfair embargos imposed by the United States and renewed just last week, impacting all walks of Sudanese life. By expressing solidarity with the friendly Cuban Government, Sudan rejected such illegal policies of embargo that affected all aspects of life and also greatly affected the poor. He expressed total solidarity with Cuba, and his appreciation that Cuba was fighting the Ebola epidemic in Africa. He called for the lifting of the embargo against Cuba and similar embargos against all nations.
The representative of Uruguay said that as in previous years, her Government had voted in favour of the draft resolution, as the embargo ran counter to the rules of international law, in particular the norms of international trade. The position of her country rested on a defence of multilateralism. Her Government rejected any unilateral coercive measures, whose clearest example today was the unjust embargo on Cuba. It was a hardship on the Cuban people and a collective punishment which led to shortages as well as delaying development. Her Government rejected the extraterritorial application of the domestic laws of other States. Hoping that closer relations between the countries could resume, she added that in voting in favour, Uruguay was committed to multilateralism.
The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, declared his unrelenting support to end the embargo against Cuba. It was a “relic of another time”, and it had no reason for being in the new millennium. He gave four reasons: it was against the very principle of sovereignty, the embargo had caused significant hardship among the Cuban people, the sanctions were part of an unproductive policy, and regional experience in South-East Asia has raised that region’s confidence in the belief that engagement would do more good than isolation. Though some meaningful changes had occurred in recent times, such as the easing of travel restrictions and the removal of obstacles to transfer remittances to Cuba, the preferred outcome was for the embargo to be lifted completely.
The representative of Zimbabwe, associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 and the African Group, expressed concern over the United States’ illegal financial blockade on Cuba. It had caused great suffering for the Cuban people and had disrupted businesses and transactions in Cuba. The United Nations and its Member States had continued to reject the passing of laws with extraterritorial measures and the unilateral sanctions that mostly targeted developing countries. Zimbabwe had stated over the past 20 years that the embargo contravened international law, the Charter and norms regarding the governance of States. Zimbabwe joined other countries in condemning the punitive embargo and called for its unconditional lifting.
The representative of Kenya, associating herself with the Group of 77, Non‑Aligned Movement and the African Group, said Kenya had voted in favour of the draft resolution. As in previous years, Kenya remained opposed to the United States embargo on Cuba because the unilateral and extraterritorial economic and financial action violated the principles of the Charter and international law. Cuba remained an integral part of the international community and Kenya maintained bilateral relations and cooperation with the country. Cuba had also always remained engaged with the African continent, and its contributions continued to be manifested through military, educational, and health assistance. Cuba provided the greatest number of doctors of any country to help Africa combat the Ebola epidemic. A number of United Nations agencies had drawn attention to the negative effects of the embargo, particularly how it had harmed Cuban children. She called for the lifting of all unilateral measures that would imperil free trade and reiterated Kenya’s unwavering support for the right of the Cuban people to determine their social and economic development.
The representative of Angola said that as the embargo against Cuba violated international law and free trade, it affected the material and spiritual well‑being of the Cuban people. It had a significant negative impact on health, education and food. It was unfortunate that the United States maintained that position, as Cuba provided assistance to several countries around the world. Angola benefitted from Cuba in the fields of education and health. Another recent example was Cuba’s assistance to combating Ebola, which was affecting West Africa, by sending several health professionals who had been doing a remarkable job, with positive results. The embargo which had been in force for more than 50 years should end. Cuba could not continue to be blocked from taking part in the region where the United States was a key player.
The representative of El Salvador, associating himself with the Group of 77 and CARICOM, said the international community was witnessing major transformations and living in a time of new challenges. A new paradigm for development and solidarity must be elaborated in the post-2015 development agenda. The embargo ignored principles set out in the Charter, as well as international trade regulations. The embargo was not only a unilateral measure that did not enjoy the international community’s support, but was being maintained despite that community’s rejection of it, as confirmed by this morning’s vote. Since 1992, Assembly resolutions had insisted on the need to put an end to the embargo. His Government was committed to working for peaceful coexistence among nations.
The representative of Ecuador said the embargo was a blatant example of how “that democracy” continued to distort its own meaning. Ecuador had voted and would always vote in favour of the Assembly’s resolution on the matter. Blindness could really hurt. Cuba had given everything it had, and as an Ecuadorian, he had seen this. Ecuador was partly indebted to Cuba for the successful programme in his country for people with disabilities. For the twenty-third time, there had been a decision by the Assembly to put an end to the embargo. How much longer would Cuba have to wait for that request to be granted, he asked.
The representative of Myanmar, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that having experienced similar unilateral sanctions for decades, his Government fully understood from its own experience the degree of suffering caused by the sanctions, which directly affected the innocent people of Cuba. The embargo was contrary to the Charter as well as international law and the principle of good neighbourliness. Constructive dialogue was necessary to promote confidence and understanding, and the embargo and coercive measures should be replaced by dialogue and cooperation.