27th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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06-Nov-2019 02:53:40
Speakers in General Assembly urge United States to repeal embargo against Cuba, criticizing Trump administration for intensifying restrictions over past year at 27th plenary meeting.

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Delegates from around the world today called for an end to the United States long‑standing economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba, with many States criticizing the Administration of Donald J. Trump for intensifying sanctions and restrictions against the Caribbean island nation over the past year.

As the General Assembly began its annual debate on the matter, representatives lamented that the blockade, now in its fifty‑seventh year, was strengthened in 2018 and 2019 following steps toward normalization undertaken between Cuba and the United States in 2015 and 2016. Member States from Latin America and elsewhere called the embargo an illegal affront to the international community that jeopardizes not just the health and welfare of the people of Cuba but the entire region’s development.

Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the sanctions imposed by the United States have a demonstrably negative effect on the Cuban population. “Limited foreign investment and difficult access to development credits translate directly into economic hardship and humanitarian impacts for the people of Cuba,” he said, noting that from April 2018 to March 2019, the loss to Cuba’s foreign trade totalled more than $4 billion.

The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, expressed a sentiment echoed by several States by pointing to the embargo’s effects on countries besides Cuba. “The persecution of Cuban financial transactions in third country jurisdictions, which has a significant deterrent effect in economic terms, has continued,” he said. The speaker for Angola concurred, saying the extraterritorial nature of the embargo is reflected in the “financial persecution” of third‑country banks and imposition of new fines on institutions.

Some speakers accused the United States of deliberately employing sanctions as a political tool to overthrow the Cuban Government, violating international law concerning the non‑interference in the affairs of sovereign nations. Alexander Pankin, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, characterized the embargo as the main barrier against the full‑fledged enjoyment of human rights in Cuba. This cynical United States pressure has hampered Cuban doctors and health workers to access medicines, and by doing this the United States is “introducing a genocide” against the Cuban people, he said.

The speaker from Nicaragua said that the purpose of the embargo is to damage key sectors of the Cuban economy, while his counterpart from Belarus asserted that the United States is engaged in “economic terrorism”.

Representatives from several countries also subjected to sanctions, among them Myanmar and Zimbabwe, expressed solidarity with Cuba. Viet Nam’s representative said that, as a country that experienced and suffered under a United States trade embargo for 19 years, it fully understands the difficulties and the damage sanctions can wreak upon a country. “The reality of the relations between Viet Nam and the United States shows that only constructive dialogue and engagement can foster mutual trust and bring positive change,” he added.

Speakers from Latin American countries suggested that the policy of the United States was an obsolete anachronism that dates to the height of the cold war. Jamaica’s representative noted that the embargo, which was imposed in a bygone era, is being applied with an even greater level of intensity and rigor than when it was first instituted. China agreed, with its representative expressing hope that the United States and Cuba will normalize relations and “move with the historical trend of our times”. Doing so also serves the common interest of the two countries and promotes peace and prosperity in the region, he added.

Several representatives supported Cuba as a brotherly nation, citing the country’s assistance to States in the region and elsewhere, with the speaker for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines observing that Cuba’s contribution to healthcare and humanitarian assistance in underserved areas of the world is unparalleled, typified in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in Africa. The speaker for Syria noted that Cuba’s doctors have trained health workers from around the world. Grenada’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), observed that Cuba was one of the first countries to come to the aid of the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

Representatives from different States said that the embargo hampers the ability of Cuba to realize the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “Let us not allow sanctions and embargoes, unilateral or otherwise become part of the instruments that will leave Cuba behind,” said the representative of Kenya.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Tunisia (on behalf of the African Group), Singapore (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Uganda (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), India, Mexico, Philippines, Algeria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Suriname, Gabon, Belize, Indonesia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sudan and Guyana.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 am on Thursday, 7 November, to conclude its consideration of the necessity of ending United States embargo against Cuba.

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