Monday, November 14, 2005

UN Votes Against Cuban Economic Embargo

“Cuban Trade Embargo Going Out of Fashion” By Fang Zhou China Daily 11/14/2005
“U.N. Urges U.S. to Lift Cuba Embargo” By Evelyn Leopold Reuters 11/08/2005
“Bush Tightens Cuba Embargo” By Jim Lobe Inter Press Service English News Wire 05/07/2004

On November 8, 2005 the United States once again refused the United Nation’s General Assembly’s resolution to call for an end of its embargo against Cuba. This is the 14th consecutive year that the U.S. has refused a U.N. resolution to lift its four-decade old economic embargo.

Cuba has been under a U.S. embargo since 1961. The embargo, aimed at overthrowing President Fidel Castro’s socialist regime, has been steadily tightened in recent years.
For the past few years, the U.S. has taken measures designed to reduce the flow of money and visitors, including Cuban-Americans, from the United States to Cuba.

In May 2004, the Bush Administration also committed up to $59 million for public diplomacy, overcoming the jamming of U.S. government radio and television broadcasts to Cuba, and providing support for "democracy-building activities," including helping pro-democracy activists with training and support.

Cubans in the U.S. can only go to visit immediate family members once every three years (as opposed to previous policy that allowed the visitation to extended family once a year). Cuban-Americans or other US visitors can pay only $50 per day for food and lodging while in Cuba – down from 164 dollars a day. Cash remittances remained limited to $300 per family every three months, and the administration also further restricted the travel by students to Cuba through educational programs.

The U.N. emphasized that the U.S. trade, financial, and travel embargo, particularly its provisions that penalize foreign companies that deal with Cuba, has adversely affected the Cuban people. Cuban authorities allege that the Cuban economy has suffered $82 billion from the embargo. The U.S. is not legally obligated to follow the U.N. resolution. The U.N. margin of approval – with 182 in favor, four against, and one abstention – was the highest it has ever been. The four nations voting “no” were the United States, Israel, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstained.

Critics of the embargo say that it has failed to bring change to Cuba and allows Castro to blame the country’s economic failures on the United States. Others criticize the United States for ignoring international opinion and once again isolating itself from the rest of the world.

The U.S. envoy at the U.N. General Session stated that “[i]f the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it is because of his economic mismanagement, not the embargo.”

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