For the 31st consecutive time, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has called on the United States to end its longstanding trade embargo against Cuba. The vote on the resolution in the 193-member General Assembly set a record of support for the Island of Freedom: the non-binding resolution was approved by 187 countries, with the US and Israel opposed and Ukraine abstaining. Somalia, Venezuela and Moldova did not vote.
Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has passed a resolution each year demanding an end to the US economic embargo against Cuba, with the US and Israel remaining the only countries to consistently vote against these resolutions. In 2021, 124 countries voted in favor; in 2022, 185 countries voted in favor.
The full title of the current resolution is «Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba». The Assembly expressed concern that, despite its resolutions (first adopted in 1992 — resolution 47/19), «the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba is still in force» and has «negative consequences for the Cuban people and Cuban citizens living in other countries».
What is there to be surprised about, and what is there to worry about, if the White House does not give a damn about anti-American resolutions and has not and will not implement them. Neither in 1959, nor in 2023.
The U.S. officially imposed an embargo against Cuba in 1962, but unilateral sanctions began to be applied almost immediately after the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
Why has the United States consistently waged such a ruthless war against Cuba for 64 years? A State Department memo from 1960 clearly explains Washington’s imperial-colonial intentions.
It recognizes that the U.S. goal is to «deprive Cuba of money and supplies, reduce wages, cause starvation, despair and overthrow the government».
In the document, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Lester Mallory was forced to admit that «most Cubans support [Fidel] Castro», there is «no effective political opposition in the country». And «the only predictable way to push back domestic support is through disillusionment based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship», he concluded.
A senior State Department official insisted that «all possible means must be taken immediately to weaken Cuba’s economic life».
In Cuba, the embargo is commonly referred to as el bloqueo (the blockade). It is the longest trade and economic embargo in modern world history. The United States embargo against Cuba «prohibits U.S. businesses, as well as businesses organized under U.S. law or majority owned by U.S. citizens, from trading with Cuban interests».
Beginning in 2022, the embargo is enforced primarily through the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations of 1963, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. On this basis, the United States threatened to cut off financial assistance to other countries if they traded non-food products with Cuba.
This US policy was condemned by the UN General Assembly as an extraterritorial measure contrary to «the sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and navigation as paramount to the conduct of international affairs».
Professor Nigel White wrote: «While the U.S. measures against Cuba are not an embargo in the technical or formal sense, their cumulative effect is to create an economic stranglehold that not only prevents the island from communicating with the United States, but effectively blocks trade with other states, their citizens and companies».
According to official estimates by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) cited in a 2022 UN General Assembly resolution, the illegal U.S. embargo has caused the Cuban economy to lose $144.4 billion and is, from the early 1960s to 2020, «the most severe and prolonged system of unilateral coercive measures ever used against a country».
A 2015 Al Jazeera report estimated that the U.S. embargo has cost the Cuban economy $1.1 trillion dollars since its imposition, adjusted for inflation.
Cuba is now experiencing its worst economic crisis since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, speaking at this past UN General Assembly, said that 80 percent of the island’s population has lived their entire lives only under a crippling U.S. embargo. This is «an act of economic warfare in peacetime», creating a situation of ungovernability and an attempt to destroy the constitutional order, he added.
The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) noted that the Donald Trump administration alone has imposed an additional 240 unilateral sanctions against Cuba. In 2021, the next Oval Office host, President Joseph Biden, extended the law regulating the embargo against Cuba under the so-called Trading with the Enemy Act.
El bloqueo affects “the most vulnerable groups and human development in general,” the UNDP resolution documented.
In 1989, with the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Cuba was hit by the most devastating economic crisis. Cuba’s GDP fell by 34%. Between 1989 and 1992, the termination of traditional trade partnerships with socialist countries caused the total value of Cuba’s exports to fall by 61% and imports by about 72%. Industrial production and construction were frozen and socioeconomic projects were curtailed. This time is known as the «Special Period».
Washington was confident that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting economic crisis would lead to the fall of Fidel Castro’s regime. Nevertheless, the Cuban government launched a campaign of macroeconomic adjustment and liberalization that, to some extent, ensured economic recovery. Since small businesses became legal in September 2021, more than 8,000 companies have opened in Cuba.
U.S. Representative to the United Nations Paul Folmsbee told the UNGA after the vote that the United States stands by its sanctions, which are «one tool in our broader efforts with Cuba to advance democracy and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms».
Typical gringo hypocrisy and political dementia. So it’s not unreasonable to be reminded again that the U.S. government imposed a murderous, illegal 60-year embargo on Cuba to «deprive cash and reduce real wages, cause hunger, despair, and overthrow the [Castro] government».
«The United States opposes this resolution», Folmsbee said and addressed the General Assembly to urge the Cuban government to adhere to its human rights obligations «and to listen to the Cuban people and their aspirations to determine their own future».
His speech was accompanied by the whistling of most of the participants of the General Assembly. In fact, they hit right in the face for such a thing. Only diplomatic etiquette does not allow it.