U.S. backs UN to lift Cuba embargo

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New UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
New UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

The United States of America May have supported the United Nations in its bid to end the trade embargo against Cuba.

For the first time in decades, the United States of America abstained from voting against an annual UN resolution calling for an end to its economic embargo against Cuba.

US Ambassador, Samantha Power said the historic decision reflected the new policy of engagement over isolation, the BBC reports.

Recall that diplomatic ties between U.S. and Cuba were restored in 2015.

However, following the abstinence from the vote, Republican-controlled Congress opposes lifting the longstanding embargo.

The UN General Assembly has voted to approve the resolution every year since 1992, and the US has always strongly opposed it.

Ms Power said that “After 55-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we are choosing to take the path of engagement,”

She added, however, that the abstention did “not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government”, including “serious human rights violations”.

According to analysis by the BBC, the Cuban government views the abstention by the US as a victory.

It has spent decades arguing against the economic embargo (or the “blockade” as Cuba call it), saying it is a cruel and unjust policy designed to hurt ordinary Cubans.

While this vote doesn’t have any weight in actually lifting the measure – that depends on the US Congress – it is important symbolically.

It is a final message from President Obama that his administration considers the policy to be outdated and counterproductive.

“Instead of isolating Cuba” said Ambassador Samantha Power shortly before the vote, “our policy isolated the United States, including right here at the United Nations.”

Still, that view is unlikely to change the minds of the Republican leaders in Congress, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, who have vowed to keep supporting the embargo as long as they’re in office.

The future of the US embargo on Cuba – as well as so much else – now hinges on November’s election.

The decision at the UN General Assembly led to immediate protest from US politicians opposed to lifting the embargo.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz tweeted that the act imposing sanctions on Cuba was “the law of the United States, which should always be defended and upheld”.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Cuba was “grateful” for Ms Power’s efforts.

“A change in vote by the United States is a promising signal,” he said. “We hope it will be reflected in reality.”

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