by Xinhua Writer Mao Pengfei
At a United Nations General Assembly session, delegates from 191 member nations voted in favor of a Cuban-drafted resolution calling for an end to the embargo.
“This year’s vote saw 191 countries support Cuba’s resolution against the blockade,” Cuba’s state daily Granma said.
Since the resolution condemning the embargo was first put to vote in 1992, the United States has been increasingly isolated over the issue.
As in prior years, only the United States and Israel voted against the resolution, but “unlike previously, this year there were no abstentions,” Granma noted.
In 2014, the Pacific island nations of Palau, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained, making the final vote 188 in favor to two against.
The Cuban government was closely watching to see whether Washington would consider the new reality of the Cuba-U.S. ties and at least abstain from voting against the resolution.
U.S. President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, this summer restored the diplomatic ties between the two countries severed during the John F. Kennedy administration.
Obama has also eased restrictions on trade, remittances and travel. While he has acknowledged the half-century embargo as a “failure,” he maintains that only the U.S. Congress can repeal it.
Cuba has made it clear that the embargo, which it calls a blockade, remains the single-biggest obstacle to the normalization of bilateral ties.
Cuban journalist and former diplomat Manuel Yepe Menendez thinks the U.S. vote “discredits the current U.S. foreign policy” and reveals more about the U.S. power structure than it does about the Cuba-U.S. ties.
“I understand the United States’ vote at the UN today as a vote against Obama,” Menendez told Xinhua, adding that “it remains to be seen what the Republican party, those who oppose U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba, aim to gain by making him swallow the bitter pill of voting in favor of a (sanctions scheme) he recently described as a failure.”
“I believe the ridiculous situation that the U.S. foreign policy has been subjected to is directed above all through this vote by the forces that in reality govern behind the throne in the United States, in order to ridicule President Obama,” he added.
Given Obama’s decision to reverse the longstanding U.S. policy toward Cuba, “one would at the very least expect a different vote on the part of the Obama administration (such as an abstention), not the same ridiculous U.S. foreign policy, challenging the rest of the world, solely followed and supported by Israel,” Menendez said.
On the other hand, Menendez said the vote “strengthens the prestige of Cuba’s foreign policy,” which by contrast shows it is “solid, transparent and strong.”
Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the UN General Assembly before the vote, “10 months after the announcements made on Dec. 17, no tangible, substantial modification has been introduced in the implementation of the blockade.”
Rodriguez went on to list recent economic and financial damages caused by the embargo, including fines worth billions of U.S. dollars banks that allow transactions with Cuba, which hamper the island’s economic growth and development.
“We will continue to present this draft resolution for as long as the blockade persists,” Rodriguez said.
Castro and Obama surprised the world on Dec. 17, 2014, by jointly announcing the decision to restore diplomatic ties severed by Washington in 1961. Enditem