US again votes against United Nations resolution to drop economic embargo against Cuba

Biden administration continues Trump-era policy after Barack Obama previously abstained from vote in 2016

Justin Vallejo
New York
Thursday 24 June 2021 18:45
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US votes against UN resolution to drop economic embargo against Cuba

Cuba slammed Joe Biden for breaking an election promise to improve relations between the two countries after the US voted against a United Nations resolution to end the blockade of the island.

The Biden administration voted against the UN General Assembly’s annual resolution to end the economic embargo despite the president’s campaign commitment to lift current restrictions on remittances and travel.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the UN in New York on Wednesday that Mr Biden’s "pernicious passivity" was due to the Democrat’s electoral ambitions in Florida.

"The electoral platform for the Democratic party around the election promised voters that it would rapidly reverse actions taken by the government of Donald Trump, and in particular that it would eliminate restrictions on travel to Cuba, remittances and the fulfilment of bilateral migratory agreements, including restrictions to the issuance of visas," Mr Rodriguez said.

"What will those that who voted for president Joseph Biden think of what is happening. Mr President, the human damage caused by the blockade is incalculable. No Cuban family has escaped the effects of this inhumane policy."

The Trump administration added more than 200 sanctions against the Communist-run government, with the State Department designating the country a state sponsor of terrorism just days before the former president left office.

Asked in March about the new administration’s position toward the country, press secretary Jen Psaki said it was carefully reviewing policy decisions made by their predecessors.

“A Cuba policy shift is not currently among President Biden’s top priorities,” Ms Psaki told reporters

It came after a group of 80 Democrats from the House of Representatives wrote Mr Biden to lift Mr Trump’s "cruel sanctions’ and revert to the position of former president Barack Obama

“With the stroke of a pen, you can assist struggling Cuban families and promote a more constructive approach,” the letter said.

Despite pressure from within his own party, the US voted against the UN resolutions to lift the embargo for the 28th time – with the one exception in 2016 when Washington abstained under Obama.

The US’s diplomat at the UN on Wednesday, Rodney Hunter, told the General Assembly that sanctions against Cuba were a "legitimate tool" in achieving its foreign policy objectives and to support the Cuban people.

"Sanctions are one set of tools in our broader effort toward Cuba, to advance democracy, to promote respect for Human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights," he said.

"The United States opposes this resolution. We encourage this body to support the Cuban people in their quest to determine their own future," he added.

While the UN resolution passed with 184 votes versus two against (including Israel), it carries no binding consequence at lifting the embargo, which can only be done by the US Congress.

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