30th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 73rd Session

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01-Nov-2018 02:16:21
General Assembly adopts annual resolution calling for end to embargo on Cuba, soundly rejects amendments by United States at 30th plenary meeting.

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As the General Assembly today adopted its annual resolution to end the United States‑led embargo against Cuba, speakers urged Washington, D.C. to heed the quarter‑century‑long call for an end to its restrictive policies.

The action came on the second day of the Assembly’s debate on the matter, which began on 31 October. (For more information, see Press Release GA/12085.)

By a recorded vote of 189 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the Assembly adopted the resolution titled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” (document A/73/L.3).

Through the terms of the text, the Assembly reiterated its call upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures of the kind referred to in the text’s preamble, in conformity with their obligations under international law and the Charter of the United Nations, which reaffirm the freedom of trade and navigation. The Assembly also 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.

Cuba’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Bruno Eduardo Rodríguez Parrilla, who introduced the text, said the human damage caused by the United States‑led blockade against his country qualifies as an “act of genocide” and creates obstacles for cultural, academic and scientific engagement throughout the island.

He said the quantifiable damages caused by the almost six‑decades‑long blockade amount to $933.678 billion and that over the past year losses in Cuba add up to $4.3 billion. Still, Cuba has managed to achieve economic progress and offer extensive international cooperation. “The blockade continues to be the main obstacle to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said, also noting that it violates the right of Cubans to self‑determination. “It is an act of oppression and an act of war.”

Mr. Rodríguez said there is a “ferocious intensification” of the extraterritorial implementation of the blockade, particularly the persecution of Cuba’s financial transactions. The embargo goes against the United Nations Charter and international law, he stressed.

Prior to the text’s adoption, the representative of the United States introduced a series of amendments noting that the resolution “does not help a single Cuban family”. She said that the resolution is one more time that countries “feel like they can poke the United States in the eye” and the sorry state of liberty and human rights in Cuba is not lost on anyone.

She went on to say that the United Nations does not have the ability nor the authority to end the United States embargo on Cuba. It does, however, have the power to send a moral message to Cuba’s regime. She said that the United States’ proposed amendments are “your words”. They are the words expressed by delegations on Cuba’s oppression and lack of freedoms.

The Assembly turned down all eight amendments via individual recorded votes, with Mr. Rodríguez saying prior to their rejection that through the proposals the United States “manipulates and politicizes” the universal aspiration to guarantee the enjoyment of human rights. “The United States does not have the moral authority to criticize Cuba when it comes to human rights,” he said, adding that that country is responsible for crimes against humanity.

The representative of the United States, speaking again after the text’s adoption, said the United Nations “lost” and has “rejected the opportunity to speak about human rights”.

Throughout the morning, speakers regretted that after 27 years of near‑unanimous support for the yearly resolution in the General Assembly, there is still no indication that Washington, D.C. will lift the embargo.

The representative of Uruguay, who abstained on the amendments and voted in favour of the resolution, said it is not appropriate to incorporate amendments into a text that has been given almost unanimous support for a quarter century. He said the embargo is “unjustifiable” and called for the resolution to remain a clear document.

Indonesia’s representative said the Assembly has consistently opposed unilateral coercive measures and regretted the continued need for the organ to reject the embargo imposed on Cuba.

The representative of Ecuador said all people are created equal and that it is incomprehensible for a country founded on those values to maintain the embargo against Cuba.

Costa Rica’s delegate said the amendments proposed by the United States would have distorted the ultimate purpose of the resolution.

Prior to acting on the resolution, the Assembly concluded its debate on the matter in which speakers reiterated their unequivocal opposition to the blockade against Cuba. Speakers regretted that progress to normalize Cuba‑United States relations in 2015 and 2016 have been reversed by Washington, D.C.

“We continue to stand firmly against laws and measures that encroach or hinder the sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality of any State,” said the representative of Grenada, adding that there is still hope that relations will normalize.

The representative of Myanmar said the embargo causes “considerable suffering” to Cuba’s people and noted that his country can relate closely as it suffered through 25 years of unilateral sanctions.

The representative of Equatorial Guinea called on the Assembly to launch an appeal to the United States Government to act to lift the embargo against Cuba. “We hope the Government of the United States will listen to this appeal and will continue the actions that have already begun,” he added, referring to initiative taken by then United States President Barack Obama in 2016.

Also speaking today were representatives of Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Canada, Zambia, Australia, Argentina, Panama and Peru. The representative of Iran spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 2 November, to take up the report of the Human Rights Council.

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