Cuba, U.S.A.: Voting on the Embargo

General Assembly, United Nations HQ (New York City) – Photo by Luke Redmond, used under a Creative Commons license. Visit Luke's flickr photostream.

The United Nations General Assembly yesterday approved a resolution condemning the U.S. embargo. For the seventeenth year running, the vote went in favor of the Cuba-sponsored resolution and bloggers – from the diaspora and from Cuba herself – have had a lot of say on the subject.

The Cuban Triangle got straight to the point:

There are lots of reasons, depending on your point of view, not to pay attention to this event. It’s a top priority of Cuban diplomacy. The debate will feature Cuban assertions about the embargo’s damages to the Cuban economy ($3.77 billion in 2007) that can’t be verified, and that ignore the cost to Cuba’s economy of Cuba’s own economic policies. The resolution has no teeth and the UN has no enforcement power. The resolution asserts that the embargo violates international law, as if the United States lacks the right to refrain from trade with another country. In the debate, Cuba will go one better and call U.S. policy “genocidal” not just rhetorically, but as a matter of international law.

Child of the Revolution agreed that the vote “is not binding and therefore does not mean much in practice”, but conceded that:

It represents yet another propaganda win for the Castro brothers.

Havana Times seemed hopeful about the possibility that the vote could make a difference, particularly in light of the fact that a new U.S. administration will be taking over the reins of government come 2009:

While the vote is non-binding, a new US administration in January will have the chance to heed world opinion or maintain its nearly half century of hostility against neighboring Cuba.

The Cuban Triangle was of the opinion that the vote served to remind people of a few things:

First, Cuba knows how to do multilateral diplomacy.

Second, while many governments agree with U.S. criticisms of Cuban human rights practices, virtually all agree, as the resolution says, that U.S. sanctions have “adverse effects” on the Cuban people. And virtually all are willing to vote to urge the United States to lift the embargo.

Third, if a new U.S. Administration decides that it wants to work more closely with allies and other countries on the Cuba issue, U.S. sanctions – from the embargo to direct action against third-country banks and companies – are an obstacle.

Meanwhile, El Cafe Cubano sought to draw attention to what he thinks is the real issue:

Isn't that special…”The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly for the favor of lifting the 46-year-old US trade embargo on communist-ruled Cuba.”
Alrighty then…What about FREE ELECTIONS and DEMOCRACY?

Finally, Havana-based Generation Y added an interesting perspective:

Anticipating the outcome of the vote, I would like to refer to another siege in effect every day. This one prevents me from entering or leaving my country freely, from associating with a political group or creating a small family business. An internal blockade, constructed on a base of limitations, control and censorship, has cost Cubans countless material and spiritual losses. I decide to go out for the newspaper Granma—which requires a huge effort—and try to find the outcome of today’s debate in the United Nations. I go out into the street and what is most glaring are the continuing restrictions imposed on us by our leaders; the wall that no one in the UN will vote against today.


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