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UN Calls for End to US Embargo on Cuba

The UN General Assembly on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to call for an end to the US embargo on Cuba.

The vote was cast at the 192-member General Assembly with 187 in favor, three against and two abstentions.

This is the 18th year that the General Assembly voted to urge an end to the US embargo.

Only the United States, Israel and Palau voted against the non-binding resolution, while Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained.

Over 17 consecutive years since 1992, a majority in the United Nations General Assembly have supported lifting the unilateral US embargo.

The United States imposed the trade embargo on Cuba in early 1960s when both countries severed diplomatic ties.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, while taking the floor at the General Assembly, said that US embargo was “an absurd policy that causes scarcities and sufferings.”

“It is a crass, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights,” the foreign minister said.

“Cuban children suffering from lymphoblastic leukemia who reject traditional medicines can not be treated with the American product ‘Elspar’, created specially to treat intolerance,” he said.

“Consequently, the life expectancy of these children is reduced and their suffering increases.  The US government forbids Merck& Co to supply this medication to Cuba.”

“Since the election of (US) President (Barack) Obama, there has not been any change in the implementation of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba,” the foreign minister said.  “The blockade remains intact.”

For his part, Claude Heller, the Mexican permanent representative to the United Nations, told the General Assembly that “Mexico stresses that this type of domestic measures, when applied extraterritorially to third countries, produce severe humanitarian consequences that are contrary to international law, and imply taking steps away from the use of dialogue and diplomacy as the ideal means to solve controversies among states.

“At the same time, Girija Vyas, member of the Indian Parliament and member of the Indian delegation, said that for the last 17 years in a row, the General Assembly, while deliberating this agenda item, “has categorically and overwhelmingly rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extra-territorial impact.”

“Unfortunately, these repeated resolutions remained unimplemented,” he said.  “The nearly five-decade-old United States embargo on Cuba, including its extra-territorial aspects, continues to remain in force.  We share the views expressed by the international community in its opposition to the extra-territorial aspect of the embargo.”

However, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, saw the new General Assembly resolution as the “painfully familiar rhetoric.”

This articled appeared in the China Daily Web site on 29 October 2009.

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