The United States has justified its half-a-century-old embargo against Cuba saying that it represents just one aspect of U.S. policy toward Cuba, whose overarching goal is to encourage a more open environment in Cuba and increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As expected, the US voted in the UN General Assembly on Tuesday against a resolution calling for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba for the past half century.
In a resolution adopted by 186 votes in favor to two against , the Assembly reiterated its call to all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures not conforming with their obligations to reaffirm freedom of trade and navigation.
Israel was the other country that voted against Cuba, while Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau abstained from voting.
Giving an explanation for opposing the UN resolution,US Ambassador Ronald Godard told the General Assembly meeting that the United States reaffirms its strong commitment to supporting the right and the heartfelt desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future. He accused the Cuban regime of depriving them of this right for more than half a century.
Terming the resolution as one "designed to confuse and obscure," Godard said the U.S. economic relationship with Cuba is a bilateral issue, and is not appropriately a concern of the General Assembly.
He blamed that the Cuban government's own policies - not any action of the U.S. government - are the greatest obstacle to Cuba's economic development, which concentrate political and economic decisions in the hands of the few, stifling economic growth.
He reminded the Assembly that the United States is a leading source of food and humanitarian aid to Cuba, and that it has been one of Cuba's principal trading partners for years.
He reiterated the Obama administration's policy that the United States is "open to a new relationship with Cuba" if the Cuban government starts taking proper steps to open up its own country and provide the space and the respect for human rights that will allow the Cuban people to determine their own destiny. He also demanded the unconditional and immediate release of the 62-year-old American citizen Alan Gross, who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the crime of trying to connect Cuba's Jewish communities to the Internet.
Renewing its call to end the embargo for the 20th consecutive year, the General Assembly urged the United States to repeal or invalidate laws and measures not conforming with their obligations to reaffirm freedom of trade and navigation.
It also requested the UN Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the resolution at the Assembly's next session, which begins in September 2012.
Introducing the text, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Foreign Minister of Cuba, stated that the US has never hidden the fact that the objective of the embargo - which he said has caused more than $975 billion in damage to the Cuban people - is to overthrow his country's Government.
He vowed that "What the US Government wants to see changed will not change," and added: "Our elections shall not be auction sales. There shall not be $4 billion electoral campaigns nor a parliament supported by 13 per cent of voters."
by RTT Staff Writer
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