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Near-Unanimous UN Call to End Cuba Blockade

Sunday 6 November 2022, by siawi3


Near-Unanimous UN Call to End Cuba Blockade

November 4, 2022

Thursday’s vote was 185-2. The only two “no” votes were those of the United States and Israel, with Ukraine and Brazil abstaining.

Photo: Havana, 2017. (Pedro Szekely, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

Peace advocates on Thursday said that the near-unanimous vote by United Nations member states to demand an end to the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba underscores the imperative for the Biden administration to lift the crippling 60-year blockade.

For the 30th straight year, U.N. General Assembly members voted in favor of a Cuban resolution condemning the embargo, first enacted during the administration of then-President John F. Kennedy, who according to close confidant and historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., wanted to unleash “the terrors of the Earth” on Cuba following Fidel Castro’s successful overthrow of a brutal U.S.-backed dictatorship.

Thursday’s vote was 185-2, with only the United States and Israel dissenting, and Ukraine and Brazil abstaining.

“The Biden administration talks about the need for a rules-based international order. Today’s U.N. vote clearly shows that the global community is calling on the U.S. to lift its brutal embargo on Cuba,” CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin said in a statement.

Benjamin added that U.S. President Joe Biden “should respect global opinion” and return to former President Barack Obama’s “policy of normalizing relations with Cuba.”

Manolo De Los Santos, co-executive chair of the People’s Forum, wondered, “What would Cuba be like today, if the blockade didn’t hinder its development?”

“It is impossible to quantify the pain generated by power cuts, long queues to purchase food, the obstacles to the life projects of families, particularly young people,” he added. “Cuba has a right to live!”

Speaking before the U.N. General Assembly Thursday, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla noted that “more than 80 percent of the current Cuban population was born under the blockade,” which he called a “deliberate act of economic war” akin to “a permanent pandemic, a constant hurricane.”

Rodríguez said that since then-President Donald Trump rolled back most of the reforms set in motion by Obama, the United States “has escalated the siege around our country, taking it to an even crueler and more inhuman dimension, with the purpose of deliberately inflicting the biggest possible damage on Cuban families.”

Taking aim at Biden, Rodríguez added that “the current U.S. administration does not have a policy of its own toward Cuba. It acts out of inertia and continues the inhuman policy of maximum pressure instituted during the presidency of Donald Trump.”

Rodríguez said the embargo has cost Cuba more than $6.3 billion during the first 14 months of the Biden administration, or more than $15 million per day. In 2018 a United Nations commission estimated the total cost to the Cuban economy of the 60-year blockade was at least $130 billion.

Rally against the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba outside the White House in Washington, D.C., Nov. 2, 2022. (CodePink)

CodePink has conducted rallies against the embargo, with protests to #LetCubaLive in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. over the past several days.

CodePink is set to cap a week of action Saturday by joining with the Cuban-American group Puentes de Amor to send a plane loaded with 8.5 tons of food and medicines to the besieged island.

“Unfortunately,” said CodePink Latin American coordinator Samantha Wherry, the shipment “represents a tiny gesture compared to the billions of dollars of harm caused by the U.S. blockade.”

The peace activists have three demands: An end to the U.S. blockade, lifting of all travel and economic restrictions on Cuba, and removal of Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Successive U.S. administrations backed a decades’ long campaign of exile terrorism against Cuba, attempted subversion, failed assassination attempts, economic warfare and covert operations large and small in a fruitless policy of regime change.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from Common Dreams.



The world condemns the US blockade against Cuba

185 countries voted to lift the cruel 60-year blockade that has deprived the Cuban people of more than $1 trillion according to some calculations

November 03, 2022

by Natalia Marques

185 countries voted in favor of the resolution to lift the blockade, Brazil and Ukraine abstained, and the United States and Israel voted against the resolution. (Photo: Permanent Mission of Luxembourg to the UN on Twitter)

On November 3, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) once again voted almost unanimously for the United States to lift the cruel 60-year blockade against Cuba. 185 countries voted in favor of the resolution to lift the blockade, Brazil and Ukraine abstained, and the United States and Israel voted against the resolution.

“No other resolution at the UN has this level of consensus,” tweeted Cuba solidarity activist and co-executive director of the Peoples Forum, Manolo de los Santos.

Voting records from the UN resolution to end the blockade on Cuba (Photo: Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in New York)

The US has waged a war of attrition against Cuba since the nation’s socialist revolution overthrew a US-backed dictator. The blockade is the patchwork of economic, commercial, and financial policies that above all seeks to make foreign trade with Cuba impossible and hinders the delivery of humanitarian aid. Speaking to the UNGA, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez remarked, “More than 80% of the current Cuban population was born under the blockade. Three decades have passed since this Assembly began to demand, every year, the cessation of that policy, classified as an act of genocide and which has the effect of ‘a permanent pandemic, of a constant hurricane’ and is universally rejected.”

Rodriguez also explained the devastating economic effects of the blockade. By the calculations of the Foreign Ministry, the blockade deprives the Cuban people of $15 million per day. Since the inception of the blockade in 1962, the Cuban people have lost as much as $1.391 trillion to the blockade. An article ran by Al Jazeera also estimates the total to be around $1 trillion.

While rejection of the blockade has grown, US measures against Cuba have only increased. President Biden has continued to implement the worst of the 243 new sanctions that former President Donald Trump imposed. Rodriguez explained how in the first seven months of 2022, these sanctions have cost the Cuban people $3.8 billion. Biden also stays faithful to Trump’s policy of voting against the blockade in the UN—in 2016, under President Barack Obama, the US abstained from the vote. Cuba also continues to be on the US state sponsors of terrorism list, a policy which many US activists staunchly oppose.

On October 29, Cuba solidarity activists in the US staged a rally and march in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, in protest of the blockade. Claudia de la Cruz, co-executive director of the People’s Forum, spoke to a crowd of hundreds. “The US dares to say that Cuba should remain in the terrorist list,” she said. “Who calls the US government terrorist? The United States has dared to overthrow governments all across the globe.”

Image: Activists gather in Times Square on October 29, 2022, to protest the blockade against Cuba

Washington claims that it is only trying to help the Cuban people. Sanctions are “one set of tools in Washington’s broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise fundamental freedoms,” according to the then-political coordinator for the US Mission to the UN, Rodney Hunter, in 2021. “Every year we authorize billions of dollars’ worth of exports to Cuba, including food and other agricultural commodities, medicines, medical devices, telecommunications equipment, other goods, and other items to support the Cuban people. Advancing democracy and human rights remain at the core of our policy efforts,” he claimed.

In reality, the network of blockade and sanctions has prevented or complicated much needed humanitarian aid being sent to Cuba. As the Delta variant of COVID-19 ravaged the island in August 2021, the only Cuban oxygen plant was rendered inoperational as its technicians could not acquire spare parts due to the blockade. Cubans were deprived of oxygen as the US stubbornly refused to make an exception. The US blocked a COVID-19 aid shipment from Asia at the height of the pandemic in 2020. During the recent Matanzas fire, which devastated Cuba’s energy supply, activists petitioned the Biden administration to lift the sanctions which prevented much needed monetary donations to the fire recovery efforts. Washington ignored these petitions, as it did after Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the island.

However, despite Cuba’s economic setbacks through Washington’s policies, Cuba has continued to confront and overcome diverse global and climatic challenges oftentimes better than the US. Its people-first COVID-19 response saw not only record low transmission and death rates, but also the development of vaccines available for the Cuban people and people across the global south. A stark contrast from the over one million deaths in the US and billions in profits made by pharmaceutical companies from the vaccine. The island’s hurricane preparedness and relief efforts were also far better than those of the US. Only three died during Hurricane Ian, compared to the over 100 who perished in Florida. Some point to the people-first central planning of Cuba’s socialist government as the key difference.

As De la Cruz declared at the October 29 solidarity rally, “The only threat that Cuba poses to the United States is the possibility of hope. The only threat that people are able to see is that it is possible for a government to put its people front and center.”