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General assembly calls for end to U.S. embargo against Cuba

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 13 2012 (IPS) - The 193-member General Assembly Tuesday adopted a resolution calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba. This was the 21st consecutive year the Assembly had voted against the embargo.

By an overwhelming  vote of 188 in favour to three against (Israel, Palau and the United States) with two abstentions (Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia), the Assembly reiterated its call to all member states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures not conforming with their obligations to reaffirm freedom of trade and navigation.

According to the resolution, the General Assembly “once again urges States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible.”

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, told the Assembly that during the last four years of US President Barack Obama’s administration, there has been a “persistent tightening” of the blockade, which has been in place for over half a century.

“There is no legitimate or moral reason to maintain this blockade,” he stated, adding that the use of “less strident and threatening rhetoric” and certain partial measures to relax the travel restrictions on residents of Cuban origin and others for academic, scientific or cultural purposes have failed to conceal the tightening of the blockade over the last four years.

“The blockade is one of the main causes of the economic problems of our country and the major obstacle to its economic and social development,” he added.

The US delegate, Ronald Godard, said his country, like others, determined the conduct of its economic relationships with other States based on its best interest. With regards to Cuba, the priority of President Obama’s administration was to empower Cubans to determine their own future.

Tuesday’s resolution, he said, sought to “identify an external scapegoat” for Cuba’s economic problems, where in fact they were caused by the country’s policies over the last half a century.

Irrespective of US policy, it was “unrealistic” to expect Cuba to thrive unless it opened its monopolies, respected international property rights and allowed unfettered access to the Internet, among other things, the representative added.

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