British rift with US over Cuba voting
Wednesday 13 November 1996
The dramatic turnaround by Britain and other EU members in a vote at the UN General Assembly was triggered by widespread anger at the US over its recent passage of the so-called Helms-Burton Act, which seeks to penalise foreign companies doing business inside Cuba. The EU has asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to declare the legislation illegal.
Approval by the General Assembly of a resolution calling for an end to the US embargo has become an annual ritual that serves to embarrass Washington.Until now, however, Britain and other EU states, including, last year Germany and the Netherlands, have abstained.
Yesterday, however, marked the first time that the EU has adopted a common position on the issue, voting in favour of the Cuban resolution. "This is the first time we have voted as a block in this, and it reflects our common opposition to Helms-Burton," a senior diplomat said.
In a joint statement, the EU said it remained critical of the regime of Fidel Castro and that it recognised that the economic plight in Cuba remained in part of the regime's making. It went on, however, to castigate the US for adopting the Helms-Burton Act. The EU has joined a chorus of foreign protest at the legislation, led also by Canada and Mexico, on the grounds that it represents an illegal extension of US law to foreign countries.
In the bluntly worded statement, the EU declared: "We cannot accept that the United States may unilaterally determine or restrict the European Union's economic and commercial relations with any other state. Measures of this type violate the general principles of international law and the sovereignty of independent states."
Victor Marrero, US representative to the assembly, swiftly fired back, however. "By introducing this resolution ... Cuba has manipulated the concerns of countries around the world to claim support for its reprehensible policies of intolerance and oppression."
The vote comes as one more humiliation in what has already been an unusually difficult week for the US at the United Nations. Only days ago, the US also found itself the victim of hostility over its debt to the UN as well as its efforts to unseat the Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, when, for the first time in the UN's history, Washington was denied a seat on the organisation's most important budgetary committee.
Cuba's vice-president, Carlos Lage Davila, said the assembly had voted "not only against a policy that is unfair, but also to make sure that no state, however powerful, may be able to ignore international law".
- 1 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Indian woman creates 'Marriage CV' after parents put her on dating site: 'Definitely not marriage material. Won’t grow long hair, ever'
Isis 'bulldozes' Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a 'war crime'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Westboro Baptist Church couldn't picket Leonard Nimoy's funeral because they didn't know where it was
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...
£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...