UN assembly condemns US embargo on Cuba, for the 28th time

Old American cars drive near the Habana Libre Hotel in February 2019

Old American cars drive near the Habana Libre Hotel in February 2019

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn the USA economic and commercial blockade against Cuba on Thursday, and in doing so shunned US calls to condemn Cuba for its ongoing human-rights violations.

The United States consistently voted against the UN resolutions for 24 years, but first abstained in 2016 under former President Barack Obama, as Washington and Havana forged a closer relationship.

For the second year, Moldova did not vote.

The 193-member General Assembly still overwhelmingly adopted the resolution for 28 years with 187 votes in favor.

The embargo is rooted in the Cold War, when Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries seized power. Two other USA allies -Ukraine and Colombia - abstained.

U.N. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding nor enforceable. That was the same vote as in 2015.

Brazil, now led by the conservative Jair Bolsonaro, voted for the first time with the United States.

"Each year we reiterate our call on both countries to find common ground so that the entire global community can move on from this impasse, and each year little has been done", said the representative of the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez rejected USA criticism of Cuba's human rights record, accusing Washington of manipulating "human rights for political purposes and rejecting double standards". "Limited foreign investment and hard access to development credits translate directly into economic hardship and humanitarian impacts for the people Cuba".

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, blamed the Cuban regime, accusing it of abuses against its own people, and of sowing regional instability. "It is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights, it qualifies as an act of genocide. there is not one single Cuban family who has not suffered consequences of this".

She also cited government restrictions on Cuban doctors working overseas who are "forced to return all but a few dollars of their income to the Communist Party", the silencing of political activists, state control of the media, and the lack of free choice in employment.

Cuba's Rodriguez countered that "the United States government does not have the slightest moral authority to criticize Cuba or any other country when it comes to human rights".

He said what Cuba calls the U.S. "blockade has caused incalculable humanitarian damages" and amounts to a major human rights violation.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said its decision to vote against Cuba was based on the need to combat communism.

Rodriguez accused the U.S. of exercising "its imperialist domination", increasing its military presence in Latin America, and using "interventionist and unacceptable language" against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government. Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza called the blockade "criminal", and condemned it as "an affront" to the United Nations.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour addresses the United Nations Security Council, at UN headquarters, January 22, 2019.

"The economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba has a damaging impact on the economic situation of the country and negatively affects the living standards of the Cuban people", said Finland's delegate on behalf of the European Union countries. Fifteen Cuban diplomats were expelled from Washington in retaliation.

"We do not accept responsibility for these abuses", she said.

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