By ANITA SNOW | The Associated Press
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said Wednesday he expected an “Olympic record’’ style victory next week when the U.N. General Assembly votes on an annual resolution to condemn the four-decade- old U.S. embargo on his communist-run country.
“No one in the world supports the blockade except for President Bush, his regime and the extremist and violent groups in Miami,’’ Perez Roque told The Associated Press in an interview, using the term his government prefers to describe the long-standing trade and travel sanctions.
Roque also said Bush shouldn’t attend the Summit of Americas in Argentina this weekend, claiming that he is neither liked nor respected in Latin America.
“President Bush should take note of the rejection of his regime by Latin America,’’ he said.
Communist-run Cuba, an adversary of the United States for more than four decades, is the only country in the hemisphere that was not invited to the summit hosted by the regional Organization of American States.
But he said Cuba was looking forward to taking part in a competing “People’s Summit’’ and march in the coastal resort of Mar de Plata and had sent a large delegation.
For 13 consecutive years, the U.N. gathering has overwhelmingly voted to condemn the embargo and this year is expected to be no different.
“We could have an Olympic record!’’ for the string of victories for Cuba, the foreign minister said. “This is one of the resolutions most supported in the United Nations.’‘
Cuba has launched a broad public relations campaign drawing attention to its complaints against the embargo before the Nov. 9 vote at U.N. headquarters in New York. Cuban embassies around the world have granted interviews to media in those countries, while the island’s state-run newspapers and broadcast reports have been providing almost daily coverage.
The embargo, in place since 1961 with the goal of toppling Fidel Castro’s socialist system, has been steadily tightened under Bush’s two terms, creating “the hardest chapter of the blockade,’’ Perez Roque said.
The foreign minister repeated his government’s charge that the sanctions have cost Cuba more than $82 billion over the decades and noted that now 70 percent of the island’s more than 11.2 million people were born after sanctions were imposed.
The foreign minister says he remains hopeful that he will see the sanctions end in his lifetime, “but while President Bush is there, the blockade is going to remain.’’