Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cuba lambasts U.S. embargo at U.N. General Assembly

News Analysis and Opinion -
Cuba once more takes its case to United Nations, where everyone listens - except the United States

*Updates below*
Guadalajara -
The U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, a case study in disastrously failed foreign policy, turned 50 years old in February (Cuban embargo is 50 - Feb. 7, 2012).

Almost a year ago, on October 25, 2011, the United Nations condemned it, 186-2, for the 20th consecutive year. The U.S. ignored the wrist slap, which was unenforceable. The U.N. will undoubtedly deliver an encore performance this year, and Washington will once again look the other way (as will much of the American press, which tends to avoid such troublesome, "unpatriotic" topics).

But none of that deterred Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez yesterday when he blasted the embargo once more, just as he did a year ago, reminding the General Assembly that it has cost the island nation at least $1 trillion in economic damages over the last half century. The embargo, put in place by president John Kennedy, is the last vestige of a Cold War strategy which has long outlived its usefulness, and which is applied to no other country - including China and Saudi Arabia, two of the biggest human rights violators on the planet. You don't lecture your banker or oil supplier, of course.

Rodríguez also harshly criticized the U.S. for maintaining Cuba on the state-sponsored terrorism list. Some American experts join him in that assessment. The foreign minister said the only reason the U.S. keeps his country on the short list is to justify the embargo, "which has caused untold human suffering." Seventy percent of Cubans alive today have never known anything other than the economic embargo, which has been condemned by world leaders for decades.
Rodríguez told the General Assembly that Cuba still extends its hand to the United States, seeking to "normalize relations" with a huge neighbor less than 100 miles from Havana, "based on equality and full respect for our independence." But he was critical of Barack Obama's hint of a new approach four years ago, which the foreign minister said had failed to materialize. Predictably, he called for the immediate release of the Miami Five (stories below), a regular theme of the Castro government.

The foreign minister complained that insofar as Cuban affairs are concerned, there is essentially no difference between Republican and Democratic policy. He pointed out that the Obama administration vetoed Cuba's presence at the Summit of the Americas in April, annoying many regional participants (Colombia's president Santos calls for normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations).

"Cuba has survived the forced isolation imposed upon it by the United States," Rodríguez told the diplomats, emphasizing that the U.S. has "neither the moral nor the political right to judge Cuba."

Nov. 10 - The United Nations General Assembly will vote once again on a resolution to condemn the U.S. embargo of Cuba next Tuesday, Nov. 13. Earlier this week Mexico's senate unanimously urged the Calderón administration to support the resolution and vote against the United States. There really wasn't any need to do so, because every Mexican administration for the past two decades has been firmly opposed to the Cuban embargo, and Calderón has spoken out forcefully against it. Nor is there any doubt that the U.N. resolution will pass overwhelmingly, as it does every year. On Thursday a Mexican senator told the chamber, "The embargo is inhuman and immoral, an anachronistic, absurd, inefficient penalty applied by the most powerful economic and military power on the face of the earth against an island. And its extraterritorial reach affects anyone who would do business with Cuba, contrary to internationally recognized principles and norms which seek to protect free commerce."

Nov. 13 - For the 21st consecutive year the United Nations General Assembly has energetically condemned the 50 year old U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, by a vote of 188-3. The United States, Israel and Palau voted against the measure, while the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. The resolution, advanced at the U.N. by Cuba, is unenforceable. The U.S. has already announced that it will ignore it: EU mantendrá el bloqueo a Cuba.

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Words of wisdom from Ron Paul, Jan. 23, 2012:
La Guerra Fría ya terminó. Creo que hemos realzado a Castro por más de 40 años, le impusimos estas sanciones, y esto sólo ha servido para convertirnos en su excusa. El ahora puede atribuir la culpa de todo lo malo a Estados Unidos. Creo que llegó la hora de poner fin a este negocio del aislamiento.
"The Cold War is over. We've actually boosted Castro for more than 40 years with the economic sanctions against him, and we've made ourselves into his excuse (for retaining power). He can lay full responsibility for everything gone wrong in Cuba on the United States. I think that the time has come to end this business of isolating Cuba."

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