Cuba reflects on record blockade vote at UN

Campaign News | Thursday, 10 November 2005

UN General Assembly’s 182-4 vote topic of Cuban radio and TV program “The Round Table.”

Havana, Nov 10 (AIN) The overwhelming rejection of the US blockade against Cuba, recorded by the UN General Assembly’s 182-4 vote on Tuesday, was the topic of Wednesday’s edition of the Cuban radio and TV program “The Round Table.”

The program hosted by moderator Randy Alonso, reviewed the statements by many governments and public figures from around the globe who warmly welcomed the vote in favor of the Cuban resolution demanding an immediate end to Washington’s economic siege against the island.

Also highlighted was the speech delivered at the General Assembly by Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.

In an interview with CNN Spanish news network shortly after the vote, Perez Roque affirmed that the record number of countries supporting Cuba amounts to a great political and moral victory and a bold rejection of Washington’s violation of the human rights of the Cuban people, the American people and other peoples of the world.

In his interview with CNN, rebroadcast on the Round Table, Perez Roque added that the Cuban government led by President Fidel Castro will never renounce its pursuit of social justice no matter what the outside pressure.

Only four of the 191 UN member states voted against the resolution, the United States, and three other nations well known for their subservience to the White House: Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau. Only Micronesia abstained in the vote. Last year the vote was 179-4 with the same nations opposing.

One of the political analysts on the program noted that the US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, abandoned the General Assembly Plenary Hall before the vote was cast leaving behind his deputy Ronald Godard to take the heat. Bolton then brazenly told the press that the vote was “irrelevant.”

In a last ditch effort to turn the tide, Godard asked the UN member states to reject the Cuban resolution saying the nearly half-century of US hostility towards Cuba is strictly a “bilateral issue,” despite its openly extraterritorial reach.

Another Cuban commentator noted that hundreds of newspapers, radio and television newscasts and websites highlighted the record vote in favor of the resolution during the 14th consecutive year it has been raised in the General Assembly.

Although the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non- binding, the latest one approved on the blockade issue asks the government of the United States to suspend all its illegal actions against Cuba and requests the UN Secretary General to prepare a report for the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, informing about the fulfillment of the resolution, in compliance with the principles of the UN Charter and international law.

The damage inflected on the island by Washington’s attempt to destroy the Cuban Revolution by tough sanctions now exceeds 82 billion dollars. During his speech to the UN, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque outlined several examples of the extraterritorial reach of the blockade.

Meanwhile, in a telephone interview broadcast from Bolivia, the popular presidential candidate of the Movement to Socialism (MAS), Evo Morales, congratulated the Cuban people and government for the resounding political victory obtained at the United Nations, which he described as a Latin American success in defense of life and humanity.

Former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark said the vote acknowledges the fact that the blockade is a cruel and criminal act by a superpower, but regretted that the UN General Assembly lacks the power it should have to force compliance with the resolution.

In Mexico, several lawmakers of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) voiced their satisfaction with the UN vote, as did ex-Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega from Managua, who said that Cuba deserved the victory.

Spanish writer Belen Copegui, also interviewed by phone on “The Round Table” , said that the international community has fully understood the unfairness of Washington’s blockade. She affirmed, that no matter how long it takes, the Cuban people’s resilience and strength will one day make it crumble.

UN casts record vote against US blockade on Cuba

182 countries vote for Cuban motion

UNITED NATIONS 8 November - Nearly every country in the UN General Assembly told the United States on Tuesday to lift its four-decade old economic blockade against Cuba in a record vote of 182 to 4 with 1 abstention.

The vote, held for the 14th consecutive year, was on a resolution calling for Washington to lift the US trade, financial and travel blockade, particularly its provisions on penalising foreign firms.

Voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstained and El Salvador, Iraq, Nicaragua and Morocco did not vote. Last year, the vote was 179 to 4, with several countries not voting at all.

Cuba has been under a US blockade since the Cuban people defeated a CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Friends of the United States, including the UK, Canada, Japan and Australia voted "yes," although the European Union also strongly criticised Cuba's alleged human rights record.

The measure is nonbinding and has had no impact on the United States, with the Bush administration having tightened restrictions against Cuba, including penalties against US and foreign firms, visits from Cuban Americans, licensed travel and remittances to families.

But the resolution has given Cuba a morale boost, especially from South American and Caribbean nations and Mexico, which each year speaks in favour of the resolution.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque highlighted regulations tightening the use by Americans of Cuban products abroad, presumably smoking a Cuban cigar or drinking rum.

"In terms of insanity, this draconian prohibition should go into the annals of the Guinness Book of Records," he said.

The United States for the first time downplayed the debate. Its envoy, Ronald Godard, used a procedure allowing him to make a short speech from his seat.

"If the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it is because of his economic mismanagement, not the embargo," Godard said.

He said Cuba's claims of being barred from importing food and medicine is baseless because the United States since 1992 had licensed over $1.1 billion (631 million pounds) in medical related goods and $5 billion in agricultural commodities in the past five years.

Nevertheless, US agricultural exporters have complained that tougher payment procedures and letters of credit before shipments can leave US ports have harmed their business.

Perez Roque said the US government in 2004, imposed fines on 316 citizens for breaching provisions of the embargo and the number rose to 537 by October 12, 2005.

In 2004, he said a total of 77 companies, banks and private groups were fined for breaking the embargo. Some 11 of them were foreign companies or subsidiaries of US firms in Mexico, Canada, Panama, Italy, Britain Uruguay and the Bahamas. Others were dissuaded from doing business with Cuba, including shipping companies and deep-sea oil drilling firms.

The US action that had the most repercussion in 2004 was a $100 million fine the Federal Reserve imposed on the Swiss bank UBS for transferring new dollar bills to Cuba.

"Never before, as in the last 18 months, was the blockade enforced with so much viciousness and brutality," Perez Roque said.

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