On November 8, the United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution aimed at condemning the US embargo against Cuba. Since then, bloggers have been actively sharing their opinions on the matter.
In 1960 the US government imposed an economic embargo against Cuba, hoping that this would help bring about a transition along with democratic and economic reforms. Every year since 1992, the UN General Assembly has tabled a resolution calling for the end of the embargo, and voting has always been overwhelmingly in favour of the lifting of the embargo. In spite of this, the US continues to maintain its position, arguing that the embargo is a bilateral issue that should not come before the Assembly.
But this year there was a twist. Australia, while still supporting the resolution, presented an amendment requiring the Cuban government to make certain changes in its democratic and economic structures. The blog Cuba Journal republishes a very thorough International Herald Tribune article about this year's voting process which offers some good background on the Australian amendment:
The assembly voted on the resolution soon after adopting a resolution to take “no action” on the Australian amendment, which meant it could not be added to the Cuban draft. The “no action” resolution was adopted by a vote of 126 to 51 with 5 abstentions.
The proposed amendment stated that the U.S. laws and measures “were motivated by valid concerns about the continued lack of democracy and political freedom in Cuba.”
Armando Armengol, a well-known Cuban-American journalist based in Miami, discussed the vote on his blog Cuaderno de Cuba (ES). Though he noted that the number of countries supporting the resolution has increased over the years, Armengol was not very hopeful that this would have any lasting effect:
. . . the measure won't have any more importance than in previous cases. We're talking about a resolution that is approved annually, but lacks the possibility to be anything more than a quote in speeches and documents.
On the other hand, Luis M. García, the Cuba-born, Australia-based author of the blog Growing Up in Castro's Cuba, hails the Australian proposal that “infuriated the Castro representatives in New York,” adding, “it makes me proud to be an Aussie.”
But some other bloggers consider this new adoption of the resolution as an even more emphatic victory for Cuba, precisely because of the increasing volume of votes in favor of the resolution, even in spite of the attempt by Australia to introduce this amendment. The prolific blog Proposiciones (ES), written by Cuban journalist Belkys Pérez Cruz, criticizes the attempt, praising what she calls a record vote favoring Cuba:
The General Assembly registered last year a record of 182 votes in favor, but today it added one more under exceptional circumstances, due to the attempt by the United States, with the assistance of Australia, to amend the resolution against the blockade.
Ever since the General Assembly started considering the subject in 1992 . . . Washington has been trying to undermine the voting process.
The decision by the US administration to present this amendment using Australia as mediator was made after it became evident to US diplomats that they could not counteract the support being given to the resolution against the blockade.
It is interesting to note how different bloggers refer to the US sanctions against Cuba either as an “embargo” or a “blockade”. People sympathetic to Cuba tend to consider those sanctions a blockade, arguing that the word “embargo” has a softer and more condescending connotation. Also noteworthy is that supporters of Cuba seem to interpret the Australian initiative as an idea of the US government disguised as an Australian decision.
Further perspectives on the subject can be found on several other blogs, particularly at Cuba vs. Bush (ES), a blog highly critical of US policies. There are three posts there, one before the voting, another with a table of all the results of previous resolutions, and a more recent one celebrating what they call a “Stunning victory for Cuba at the UN”.
In the speech delivered prior to the voting, the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Felipe Pérez Roque, asserted that the economic sanctions imposed by the United States constitute a genocide and have resulted for in damages, for his country, of more than 86 billion dollars.
He added that seven out of ten Cubans have borne and resisted since birth the effects of such a hostile policy which tries to bring us down by means of hunger and disease.