On Tuesday 27 October, the United Nations General Assembly voted by 191-2 in support of a resolution calling for the end to the US blockade of Cuba.
Only the United States and Israel voted against all 191 other member states of the United Nations, in what marked the largest majority in favour of Cuba in the 24 year history of the annual votes against the blockade. Although the vote is non-binding, it sent a clear message to the United States government that it remains isolated from the rest of the world in its policy towards Cuba.
Despite the fact that Cuba and the US have re-established diplomatic relations, the United States continues its 54 year old blockade against the island which the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said had cost the island US$833.8 billion over the last five decades.
Although in his speech to the UN Rodriguez praised US President Obama for efforts to build relations between the two countries, he said that not enough had been done either by the President or Congress to end the blockade which remained very firmly in place:
“And facts show, crystal-clear, that the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against Cuba is being fully and completely implemented.
“Ten months after the announcements made on December 17, no tangible, substantial modification has been introduced in the implementation of the blockade.
“Barely a week ago, a 1.116 billion dollar fine was imposed on the French bank Credit Agricole, which adds up to the 1.710 billion dollar fine imposed on the German bank Commerzbank in March this year for doing transactions with Cuba and other States.”
Speaking against the motion the US representative declared his country would vote against lifting the sanctions, saying that it was unfortunate that Cuba had presented a motion that was “almost identical” to the one the year before.
Country representatives from across the globe spoke in support of the Cuban resolution, praising the country for the international solidarity that it provided to many poor nations in the form of medical brigades and training, despite the effects of the blockade on its own economy.
Rodriguez also focused on the human cost of the blockade in Cuba: “The embargo is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights of all Cubans,” he said. “It is contrary to international law … It has been described as an act of genocide.”
Cuba’s report contained many examples of patients being denied medical treatment because of blockade laws including the case of children waiting for heart operations at the William Solar Paediatric Cardiology Centre who had to “undergo open -heart surgery, with greater risk of complications and mortality, and higher costs.”