The General Assembly today adopted a resolution addressing the decades-long United States embargo against Cuba, as delegates called for an immediate end to the sanctions, particularly amid global efforts to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
In adopting the draft resolution “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/75/L.97), by a recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Brazil, Colombia, Ukraine), the Assembly reiterated its call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying such laws and measures as the United States Helms-Burton Act, in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, which, inter alia, reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation.
By the terms of the draft, the Assembly once again urged States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible in accordance with their legal regime. The world body further requested the Secretary-General to prepare a report on the implementation of the present resolution in the light of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law and to submit it to the Assembly at its seventy-sixth session.
Many delegates highlighted the incalculable damage of the sanctions, in place since 1962, including restrictions that have prevented critical medicine and supplies from reaching Cuba during the pandemic. Some representatives raised concerns about the additionally damaging effects of the United States recent decision to add Cuba to its list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Recalling that the Assembly has, since 1992, annually voted in favour of resolutions calling for an end to the embargo, many delegates said that failing to fully implement “L.97” and its previous versions will only undermine multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations. Delegates speaking on behalf of groups of countries resoundingly called for swift action.
Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the resolution, saying that nobody can overlook the fact that the blockade is the primary obstacle to his country’s quest for prosperity and well‑being. It is unacceptable for the Government of the United States to ignore successive Assembly resolutions on this issue, he continued, adding that it is neither legal nor ethical for the Government of one Power to subject a small nation to a decades-long economic war aimed at imposing a political system of its own design.
Delegates expressed support for Cuba, with many commending its rich contributions to the international community. But, the embargo continues to take its toll, many declared.
The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the United States alone pursues its illegal policy while more than 190 nations engage with Cuba. Indeed, the United States sanctions are a prime example of how such policies undermine people’s well-being and their human rights, he said, voicing strong opposition to unilateral coercive measures unauthorized by relevant United Nations organs or inconsistent with international law. The embargo denies Cuba access to markets, remains the main impediment to Internet access and has caused more than $147.8 billion in damages since it was imposed, including $9.1 billion in the last year.
The sanctions represent an obstacle to advancing development plans and fighting against pandemic, said the representative of Haiti, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and Niger’s representative, speaking for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). In a similar vein, Eritrea’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the illegal sanctions represent the main barrier to Cuba’s realization of the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The representative of Guinea, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called on the international community to step up efforts to end the embargo. Echoing a common view voiced during the debate, he said that, despite the sanctions, Cuba continues to demonstrate its solidarity with the international community, most recently with contributions to other nations in tackling the pandemic.
The representative of Singapore, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said lifting the embargo would do much to improve the living standards of the Cuban people and the country’s economic and social development. Encouraging the United States and Cuba to renew their commitment to open and constructive dialogue, she reiterated support for ending the embargo as soon as possible.
In explaining his delegation’s vote against the resolution, the United States representative said sanctions are a legitimate way to achieve foreign policy goals, representing one set of tools to advance democracy for the Cuban people.
Also delivering general statements were representatives of Viet Nam, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Mexico, Algeria, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, South Africa, Antigua and Barbuda, Philippines, Namibia, Egypt, India, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
The representative of Cuba spoke in exercise of the right to reply.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 25 June, to conclude its debate on protracted conflicts in the Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova area and their implications for international peace, security and development, and take up its agenda item on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.
United States Embargo against Cuba
The General Assembly took up its agenda item on the necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba, hearing general statements by Member States and considering an eponymous draft resolution (document A/75/L.97) and the Secretary-General’s latest report (document A/75/81) and an addendum to it (document A/75/81/Add.1).
SOPHIA TESFAMARIAM YOHANNES (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the African Group, recalled that the African Union Assembly has repeatedly reiterated its call to lift the embargo. The illegal sanctions are the main obstacles to Cuba’s realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Cuba is a responsible member of the international community, having made many contributions to African States, she said, calling on the Government of the United States to improve its relations with Havana and end the blockade.
ALY DIANE (Guinea), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the embargo has been fully applied for more than six decades. Regretting to note the policy of the former United States Administration in this regard, he expressed deep concern about the ongoing negative impact of the sanctions. Such a unilateral embargo counters the principles of the United Nations Charter, to which all States have the duty and responsibility to comply. If economic sanctions continue, it will be impossible for Cuba to embark on the path towards realizing the 2030 Agenda. At the same time, Cuba continues to demonstrate its solidarity with the international community, most recently with contributions to other nations in relation to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. For these reasons, the embargo must end, he said, calling on the international community to step up efforts to make this happen.
YASHAR T. ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the Movement’s strong opposition to unilateral coercive measures which are not authorized by relevant United Nations organs or which are not consistent with international law and the United Nations Charter. He called on the United States to end its illegal embargo on Cuba, saying that it is a prime example of the manner in which unilateral coercive measures undermine people’s well-being and the realization of their human rights, including the right to development. The embargo is denying Cuba access to markets, financial institutions and technology transfers, and it is the main impediment to Internet access and people-to-people contacts.
Expressing deep concern at the embargo’s growing extraterritorial nature, including through Chapter III of the United States Helms-Burton Act, he said that it has caused more than $147.8 billion in damages since it was imposed, including $9.1 billion since the Assembly last took up the topic more than a year ago. He condemned Cuba’s baseless inclusion on the United States Department of State’s list of State sponsors of terrorism and looked forward to the new Administration in Washington, D.C., to renew the normalization of relations with Havana. More than 190 nations engage with Cuba while the United States alone pursues its unjustified and illegal sanctions policy, he said, urging that country to heed successive Assembly resolutions and bring an immediate and complete end to the embargo.
JO-PHIE TANG (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, emphasized that ASEAN does not support the imposition of unilateral economic, commercial and financial measures on other countries. The embargo is limiting Cuba’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a timely and cost-effective manner. Lifting the embargo on Cuba would do much to improve the living standards of the Cuban people and the country’s economic and social development. She encouraged United States and Cuba to renew their commitment to open and constructive dialogue, underpinned by mutual respect, and reiterated ASEAN’s support for lifting the embargo as soon as possible.
ANTONIO RODRIGUE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the imposition of coercive measures against Cuba is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and international law. The member States of CARICOM continue to maintain close relations with Cuba, but the far-reaching and extraterritorial nature of the embargo represent an obstacle to the further development of those ties. Noting that CARICOM member States enjoy friendly relations with the United States, he urged that country to put an end to a policy “which has lasted too long and has had no results so far”.
Going forward, CARICOM will keep advocating for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, he said, emphasizing that in these challenging times, solidarity and cooperation are needed more than ever to eliminate the COVID-19 pandemic and to enable the world to return to normalcy. Recalling the deployment of Cuban medical brigades to reinforce healthcare teams in CARICOM member States, he added that lifting the embargo would improve the prospects for peace, cooperation and development of the region while also satisfying a long-standing wish of the Caribbean people.
ABDOU ABARRY (Niger), speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the embargo has had a deep financial impact on Cuba, totalling more than $9 billion in 2019. Although Cuba has made significant strides in combating COVID-19, the blockade is negatively affecting its efforts. More broadly, the embargo represents an obstacle for Cuba to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, calling for an immediate end to the sanctions.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that the United States embargo on Cuba is “the most unjust and prolonged system of unilateral sanctions ever imposed against a country in our modern world history”. Having itself been the target of a trade embargo, Viet Nam understands the hardship that such measures create. It also knows that only constructive dialogue and engagement can foster mutual trust and bring about positive change. He urged the Government of the United States to reverse its current policy towards Cuba, not only for the benefit of the people of the two countries, but also for peace, stability and development in the region and the world at large.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) called for the immediate lifting of the embargo, which limits the inalienable rights of citizens in Cuba and the United States. The sanctions war unleashed to remove a Government the United States does not like demonstrates blatant scorn for human rights. With the spread of COVID-19, every country must show the political will to move away from trade wars and sanctions. As the pandemic raged in 2020, the United States increased its pressure more than in previous years, including adding Cuba to its list of States that sponsor terrorism. Meanwhile, Havana is demonstrating impressive resilience, he said, pointing to medical assistance brigades dispatched to 40 countries and its newly developed coronavirus vaccine. All discussions on the sanctions in the United States have yet to see practical results, he said, calling on all Member States to show solidarity with Cuba and vote in favour of “L.97”.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said the embargo is illegal and has had a more serious effect on Cuba during the pandemic, with the United States using sanctions as a weapon of war. Despite these sanctions, Cuba has provided health-care assistance, dispatching medical brigades to more than 35 countries, and has developed a COVID‑19 vaccine. The world needs vaccines, not blockades, he said. Today, economic violence has become the United States preferred weapon of war against one third of the global population, as it continues to impose unilateral sanctions.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) said that his country once again condemns the blockade and the United States’ decision to implement Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996, the name of which conceals the true intentions of the Helms-Burton Act. Global problems cannot be resolved without respecting the principle of self-determination. Given the pandemic, the lifting of the blockade cannot be postponed, he said, emphasizing that to do so would not only help reverse Cuba’s difficult economic situation, but also improve the regional climate.
SOFIANE MIMOUNI (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, said that the Assembly’s adoption of this annual resolution by an overwhelming majority sends a powerful message that cannot be ignored. He reaffirmed Algeria’s solidarity with Cuba and condemned the tightening of the embargo, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. These unjustified sanctions are exacerbating the suffering of the Cuban people and hampering their country’s efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that Cuba, like any State, has the right to trade freely with any economic partner it chooses.
INGA RHONDA KING (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), associating herself with CARICOM, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, said that, six decades after it was imposed, the blockade against the Cuban people remains unjustifiable, illegal and illegitimate. By any measure, it is an unmitigated failure that only aggravates the suffering of the Cuban people. It is not only a bilateral issue between Cuba and the United States, but also a violation of the sovereign right of States due to its extraterritorial nature. Hopefully, United States President Joseph R. Biden will resume efforts to normalize relations with Cuba and inspire members of the United States Congress to lift the blockade. She went on to emphasize that by exacerbating Cuba’s financial troubles, the blockade is complicating its ability to scale up the production of COVID-19 vaccines.
ZHANG JUN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that embargoes affect States’ abilities to achieve the 2030 Agenda. However, some States resort to abusive sanctions, which is toxifying international relations. Since 1992, the General Assembly has adopted an annual resolution to end the embargo against Cuba. Yet, this embargo has restricted Cuba’s development efforts, and more recently, its access to medicine and supplies to fight COVID-19. China has always opposed the use of unilateral sanctions, he said, recalling its fruitful relations with Cuba. Dialogue is the best way to address differences, and bullying will ultimately backfire, he said, calling on the United States to end the embargo and develop constructive relations with Cuba and other nations.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa), associating herself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the sanctions have caused immeasurable damages to Cuba. Her delegation will continue to pay homage to the Cuban people who sacrificed their lives to fight for South Africa’s liberation. Despite sanction-related burdens, Cuba continues to be an inspiration to humanity as it provides medical brigades to countries to combat COVID-19. The United States recent designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism together with a repudiation of the enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, is even more damaging. Meanwhile, Cuba champions the rights of developing countries and it has a right to develop and prosper. Calling on the new United States Administration to remove the unjust yoke of sanctions, she said it is time for constructive dialogue, not further isolation. As such, she called on all Member States to join the call for a new chapter of hope for Cuba and its people.
GLENTIS THOMAS (Antigua and Barbuda), associating himself with CARICOM, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, said that his country has long called, through the Assembly and regional organizations, for the United States to lift the embargo and to allow Cubans to benefit from their fair share of globalization. The blockade has caused more harm than good among the Cuban people, who, despite all the difficulties they face, particularly during the pandemic, have made a major contribution to the global fight against COVID-19, including through the development of a vaccine. He called on the United States and Cuba to meet at the table of diplomacy to peacefully discuss an end to their differences and to forge a relationship based on mutual respect and shared responsibility.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country has not and will not impose any measures that run contrary to the implementation of this annual resolution. The restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba in 2015 was a watershed moment in international relations, but the extraterritorial nature of the blockade continues to intensify. Noting that Cuba and the Philippines have cultural and economic ties going back to the Manila‑Acapulco galleon trade in the sixteenth century, he said that the United States must lift the embargo “unilaterally, unconditionally, once and for all”.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the embargo hinders the normal development of international relations and seriously harms the legitimate interests of many States, institutions and individuals around the world. It is regrettable that further aggressive actions imposed by the United States in 2020 remain in place. That stands in contrast to 2016 when it was hoped that the blockade might be coming to an end. “For Namibia, the Cuban people are family,” he said, emphasizing that an end to the blockade would give them a fair chance to unleash their potential and realize their development aspirations.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group, Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, reiterated his delegation’s support for Cuba. The sanctions have had a direct and negative effect on the socioeconomic welfare of Cubans, even restricting Cuba’s ability to prepare for and respond to the pandemic. The principles of international law, the United Nations Charter and previous related resolutions must be upheld. The decades-long embargo against Cuba will never deter the international community from calling for lifting the sanctions, he said, asking Member States to support the draft resolution.
MAYANK SINGH (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the continuing embargo undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations. Such embargoes impede States’ development efforts and the full enjoyment of human rights. Successive reports of the Secretary-General have established that the embargo has adversely affected the Cuban people, including during the pandemic. Recalling Cuba’s development achievements, he said the international community must intensify efforts to reject such embargoes.
DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, said that, today, after its 2019 coup d’état, his country is joining the sovereign nations of the world to reject this immoral and criminal blockade. This is one of the most important items on the United Nations agenda as it deals with the Organization’s very raison d’être. The embargo is not a bilateral matter, but a threat to multilateralism, one that is aggressively extraterritorial and a transgression of international trade norms. He went on to describe the embargo as an anachronism that is also an act of genocide and economic war.
Introduction of Draft Resolution
BRUNO EDUARDO RODRÍGUEZ PARRILLA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, introduced the draft resolution “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/75/L.97), saying that the United States is using the COVID-19 virus as an ally in a merciless unconventional war against his country. Unilateral coercive measures introduced by the former Administration of President Donald J. Trump are informing the conduct of the current administration, despite the Democratic Party having stated, in its 2020 election platform, that it would swiftly lift restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba. Some blame the Government’s passivity on its electoral ambitions in Florida, but a vast majority of United States citizens support lifting the blockade and the freedom to travel to Cuba, he said.
Quoting General Raul Castro, he said that the blockade is a massive, flagrant and systematic violation of the human rights of all the Cuban people. It is also an act of genocide. The authorities in the United States are cynically trying to sow the idea that the Cuban system is failing, claiming that their unilateral coercive measures have no impact on Cuba’s people or economy. However, as the President of Cuba said on 19 April, nobody with the faintest degree of integrity, or with publicly available data, can overlook the fact that the blockade is the primary obstacle to Cuba’s quest for prosperity and well-being. What would happen to other countries, including rich countries, if they faced similar measures, he wondered. The blockade is a politically motivated act, perfectly described by Lester DeWitt Mallory in 1960 as an attempt to topple the Government by creating hunger and despair. Even today, the United States commits tens of millions of dollars to sow instability in Cuba, he said.
It is unacceptable for the Government of the United States to ignore successive Assembly resolutions on this issue, he continued, emphasizing that other Member States are victims of the blockade’s extraterritorial impact which leave them subject to decisions made in United States courts. It is neither legal nor ethical for the Government of one power to subject a small nation to a decades-long economic war aimed at imposing a political system and government of its own design. Quoting from Fidel Castro’s address to the Assembly in 2000, he said that the principle of sovereignty cannot be sacrificed to impose an exploitative and unfair order, nor can it be sacrificed to advance the ideals of a hegemonic superpower. “Cuba wishes to live in peace,” he said, but like a virus, the blockade suffocates and kills — and it must be eradicated.
Taking action on the draft resolution “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/75/L.97), delegates first explained their positions.
The representative of Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc’s members stand against the embargo, which affects Cuba’s development efforts. External trade and foreign investment can set Cuba on the path towards economic growth, but the human rights situation in Cuba remains worrying, he said, reiterating a call on the Government to grant its citizens all freedoms. Highlighting the embargo’s negative consequences, including the prevention of medical supply imports that affects Cuba’s fight against COVID-19, he deeply regretted to note additional measures imposed by the former United States Administration, including travel restrictions and designating the country as a State sponsor of terrorism. Given that the sanctions also violate international trade rules, he said the European Union strongly rejects the 2019 application of elements of the Helms-Burton Act. The ongoing European Union dialogue with Cuba has established a bilateral relationship that will, among other things, open the path for assistance along the road towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and address the concerns of the Cuban people. The United States embargo impedes such efforts, and as such, the European Union will vote in favour of the draft resolution, he said.
The representative of the United States said his delegation stands with the people of Cuba. Sanctions are a legitimate way to achieve foreign policy goals, representing one set of tools to advance democracy for the Cuban people. As such, the United States opposes the draft resolution. Recalling that, each year, the United States authorizes billions of dollars of commodities for Cuba, he said that advancing democracy and human rights are at the core of its current policy. Highlighting ongoing efforts in engaging with the Government of Cuba on these issues, he said the United States remains determined on its quest to address the human rights of the people of Cuba.
The representative of Nicaragua said that, for six decades, the Cuban people have waged a titanic battle against a “spiderweb of imperialism”. Expressing support for the draft resolution, he called for the end of an obsolete, backward policy, saying that imposing a blockade during a pandemic is a crime against humanity.
The Assembly then adopted “L.97” by a vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 3 abstentions (Brazil, Colombia, Ukraine).
The representative of Syria, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, explained his delegation’s position after the vote. Thanking Cuba for its support to Syria in the face of a decade-long terrorist war, he said the illegal embargo tramples human rights and international law. Today’s vote echoes a strong call upon the United States to lift the sanctions and restore relations with Cuba. Emphasizing that Syria and other countries continue to suffer from the toll of the United States’ unilateral economic terrorism, he reiterated a request to end the embargo on Cuba, joining the Human Rights Council and the Secretary-General in their similar calls on this matter.
The representative of Iran, associating herself with the Group of 77, Non‑Aligned Movement and OIC, said the United States embargo continues to have a negative impact on the people of Cuba despite the Assembly’s call, year after year, to end these unilateral measures. Following the 1979 revolution, Iran has faced United States sanctions, which have, among other things, restricted the import of much-needed medical supplies and equipment. Other countries also face such unilateral sanctions, which violate international law. The new United States Administration is continuing along the same path, including by imposing sanctions that limit the availability of medical supplies to fight against COVID-19. Cooperating with friendly countries can counter these challenges, she said, calling on the United States to end all its unilateral coercive measures.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that the resolution’s adoption by a large majority of Member States reflects the will of the international community as it firmly supports the righteous struggle of the Government and people of Cuba. He strongly urged the United States to lift its unilateral and extraterritorial embargo without conditions or delay.
The representative of Angola said that, every year, the Assembly adopts resolutions calling for an end to the embargo, yet they are never implemented, in clear disregard for the United Nations Charter and the positions of most Member States. He appealed for a collective effort to ensure that such resolutions are implemented and the embargo — “the most severe in modern history” — lifted.
The representative of Suriname, associating herself with CARICOM, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the embargo contravenes international law and the rights of sovereign States. The blockade continues to cause hardship for the Cuban people. Despite this, Cuba has made strides in developing medical science, including a COVID-19 vaccine, and is sharing its accomplishments with the international community. Regretting to note the continuation of the blockade, she called for ending such sanctions and for the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, which will only enhance security in the region.
The representative of Belarus, indicating that his delegation had voted in favour of “L.97”, called for the full lifting of the blockade on Cuba by the United States.
The representative of Jamaica said the embargo imposed against Cuba at a time when the world is grappling with a pandemic is inhumane. Jamaica and Cuba have enjoyed constructive relations despite the sanctions, which have been in force for decades. With 184 Member States voting to lift the blockade, she said the collective expression of the international community is clear: that this illegitimate act must end.
The representative of Argentina, associating herself with the Group of 77, said that the blockade is morally unjustifiable. It also violates the Charter of the United Nations, the norms of international law and multilateralism. The embargo is the main obstacle to Cuba’s development, she said, adding that respect for differences between States must prevail.
The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said that Cuba can do more internationally if the embargo is lifted. The fact that most Member States, year after year, vote in favour of this resolution shows that the embargo is wrong on all levels. She called for the end of the embargo and hoped that Cuba and the United States will improve their relationship through cooperation.
The representative of Gabon, associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and OIC, said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution, but remains concerned about the embargo’s impact on the people of Cuba. As such, he called for lifting the blockade to allow Cuba to participate in international trade and the benefits that entails.
The representative of Equatorial Guinea, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation had voted in favour of the resolution, which has been presented to the Assembly for the twenty-ninth consecutive year. The overwhelming support for “L.97” demonstrates the clear need to lift the blockade. The glimmer of hope in 2014 initiated by the United States to normalize relations with Cuba was extinguished in 2020 amid the pandemic. Despite current restrictions, Cuba has still sent medical brigades to help other States cope with COVID-19, he said, calling for the removal of the blockade.
The representative of Costa Rica said that the Cuban people do not deserve such a harmful and anachronistic embargo. There is no reason to dither, he said, adding that an end to the blockade would be better for Latin America and the Caribbean. Relations between Cuba and the United States will be much more positive once the embargo ends, he said.
The representative of Grenada said that the world can no longer remain deaf to thunderous calls for an immediate and unconditional end to an embargo that is having such an obvious and intangible economic impact. Cuba has always been willing to extend a hand of solidarity to both developing and developed countries, she said, adding that “we can no longer sit on our hands” on this issue.
The representative of Saint Lucia expressed support for ending the embargo, reaffirming the importance of strictly observing international law and trade. Unilateral sanctions contravene the principle of the sovereignty of States, a notion that has been addressed by the Assembly year after year. In addition, the embargo undermines multilateralism and the United Nations credibility, he said, pledging continued support for Cuba.
The representative of Kenya, associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, urged the United States to immediately lift the embargo. Despite these restrictions, Cuba continues to demonstrate solidarity, including by providing medical assistance to Kenya amid the pandemic. Sanctions run counter to inclusive peace and development and should be regarded as a tool from a by-gone era, he said, calling for an end to the blockade.
The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, associating himself with the Group of 77, Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that ending the embargo would not only benefit both Cuba and the United States, but also the region and the world at large. It would create an environment conducive to enhanced dialogue and cooperation while also improving the well-being of the Cuban people, he said.
The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with ASEAN, Group of 77, Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, said that his country’s vote in favour of the resolution was driven by its strong opposition to unilateral embargoes and extraterritorial coercive measures. The blockade, which is having a lasting effect on the Cuban population, is also a violation of the principle of the sovereign equality of States. He went on to emphasize the need to ensure the timely arrival of humanitarian assistance and essential goods during the pandemic.
The representative of Belize, associating himself with CARICOM, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Assembly has adopted resolution after resolution for almost 30 years to end an embargo that runs counter to international law. The international community has grappled with such crises as climate change and COVID-19, but, as a small island developing State, Cuba faces added threats when facing these challenges. Despite this, Cuba has dispatched health professionals to help Belize with its COVID-19 response and has developed a coronavirus vaccine. Similarly, Cuba assists other developing countries in tackling climate change challenges, he said, wondering how much more Cuba could contribute if the embargo was lifted.
The representative of Ethiopia, associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said sanctions violate international law and infringe upon the rights of developing countries. As such, he reiterated Ethiopia’s solidarity with the people of Cuba. Encouraging further diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, he called on all Member States to abide by the resolution’s terms.
The representative of Cambodia said that the embargo prevents the Cuban people from enjoying their fundamental rights and hinders the Government’s ability to fulfil the 2030 Agenda and to respond to the pandemic. Cuba and the United States should begin a peaceful and constructive dialogue, as the Cuban people deserve peace, stability and prosperity without external pressure, he said.
The representative of Zimbabwe said that, from its own experience, his country understands the suffering that sanctions can cause, especially on the most vulnerable. Lifting the embargo unconditionally would facilitate the opening up of the Cuban economy to the benefit of its people, he said.
The representative of Uganda, associating himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation maintains close relations with Cuba, in line with the United Nations Charter. Based on these historic ties and its membership in the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77, Uganda has consistently sided with Cuba to end this unjust embargo. While no achievements have been made in imposing these sanctions, Cuba continues to contribute to the international community, especially with medical assistance during the pandemic. As such, the sanctions should be lifted, he said, noting his delegation’s vote in favour of “L.97”.
The representative of Guyana, associating herself with CARICOM, Group of 77, Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, expressed solidarity with Cuba. As Cuba attempts to respond to the pandemic and attain development goals, she said the embargo contravenes the United Nations Charter and must end. Commending Cuba’s assistance to countries, including Guyana, she expressed hope that the embargo will be lifted soon. For these reasons, her delegation voted in support of “L.97”.
The representative of the United Kingdom said that his country has a long history of supporting this annual resolution. While the embargo is blamed for many ills in Cuba, it is not the cause of all of them. Pointing to unilateral secondary sanctions contained in the Helms-Burton Act, he said that the United Kingdom will defend the right of British businesses to trade with and invest in Cuba. At the same time, it will raise its concerns about restrictions on civil, political and other human rights, both with the Government of Cuba and publicly.
The representative of Kiribati, associating himself with the Group of 77, acknowledged that the embargo is a sensitive issue between two great friends of his country. Hopefully, Cuba and the United States might be able to come together in the not-too-distant future. He added that it is not necessarily bad for different people to live under different systems, so long as those people are human in the way they do things.
The representative of the Solomon Islands said his delegation voted in favour of the resolution. Each country has an inalienable right to determine its own political system, a fundamental principle of international law, he said, adding that the embargo must end, as it is negatively affecting Cuba and its people. Since 1992, the Assembly has called for lifting the blockade, and today’s overwhelming support reaffirms its commitment to the United Nations Charter and the principle of non-interference in State affairs. For its part, the Solomon Islands enjoys friendly relations with Cuba and the United States, he said, thanking Havana for providing his country with medical training and assistance, especially during the pandemic.
The representative of Pakistan said his delegation believes in the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Moreover, unilateral measures conflict with the notion that no country is left behind. Ending the embargo will be a significant step towards ending the suffering of the people of Cuba. For these reasons, his delegation voted in favour of the resolution.
Right of Reply
The representative of Cuba, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that, every year, the Assembly hears the United States trying to justify a blockade that is contrary to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, violates international law and stands in the way of Cuba’s ability to develop and to respond to the pandemic. It is also wrong to say that the United States is delivering medicines to Cuba. “The United States has absolutely no moral authority to judge Cuba in the area of human rights,” he stressed. It should instead address its own human rights concerns, including systemic racism against people of African descent. Cuba is proud of its human rights record and it does not need to ask for permission to build a fair, prosperous, democratic and socialist society, he said.