http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/canada-and-183-countries-vote-against-us-cuba-embargo-at-un/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Canada and 183 countries vote against US Cuba embargo at UN

Posted October 30, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Steven Edwards , CanWest News Service

An annual United Nations vote on the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba saw support for the Caribbean island remain overwhelming Tuesday despite a call by President George W. Bush last week for countries to join Washington in pushing Havana towards democracy.

Canada was among 184 countries that supported the UN measure denouncing the embargo, which the world body passed for the 16th year.

Joining the United States in opposing it were close American allies Israel, Palau and Marshall Islands, while Micronesia abstained.

But despite the world denunciation, the United States argued more American goods are arriving in Cuba than at any time since Washington imposed the embargo in 1962 following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.

“According to the Cuban government’s own trade statistics, the United States has exported nearly $2 billion in agricultural, medical and humanitarian goods to Cuba since 2002,” Ronald Godard, a senior U.S. representative at the UN, told world delegates.

“We are one of Cuba’s largest suppliers of food and one of Cuba’s largest trading partners.”

The exports to Cuba began after pressure from American farmers and others in the agricultural sector led the U.S. to relax the embargo in 2000 on grounds goods would be supplied for humanitarian reasons.

With deliveries of food and medicines totalling $270 million last year, Godard said the American people were the world’s “largest providers of humanitarian aid” to Cuba.

“We maintain our policy of directing aid and trade into the hands of the Cuban people to break the absolute control that the Cuban regime holds over the resources that its people need,” he said.

Cuba painted a sharply contrasting picture, saying the embargo had starved the Cuban economy of $89 billion - or $222 billion if adjusted for inflation.

“Anyone can understand the level of socio-economic development that Cuba would have attained had it not been subjected to this unrelenting and obsessive economic war,” Felipe Peres Roque, Cuba’s foreign affairs minister, told the General Assembly.

He charged the blockade attempts to “subdue the Cuban people through starvation and disease.”

While Canada did not address the assembly, Australia signalled its vote didn’t represent endorsement of the Cuban regime, which has a poor human rights record.

“The Cuban minister claims the blockade is the main obstacle to the rights of the Cuban people,” said Robert Hill, Australia’s ambassador to the UN. “He will, with respect, have greater credibility in pursuing this argument when he can show that the rights of all Cuban people are properly respected and protected by his own government.”

In a speech last week declaring the U.S. embargo would continue, Bush said the Cuban regime’s “communist system” - not the blockade - was the “source of Cuba’s suffering.”

But while he called on countries to help Washington create a multi-billion-dollar “freedom fund” to aid Cuba’s eventual transition to a free-market economy, the vote Tuesday denouncing the embargo was one more than last year’s.

Member Comments

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On October 31, 2007, HavanAndrew wrote:

So a week after George W. gives a new pseudo passionate approach to Cuba emphasizing democracy, the United Nations votes against the embargo, again. What is it that Washington doesn’t understand about democracy? What will it take for the countries of the world, including Cuba and the United States, that a truly new and unique approach is needed to assist Cuba? It is time for Washington to keep quiet about Cuba as nothing new is being said. The biggest crutch Castro has had for such a long time is the embargo, a change would have happened a long time ago if he had only himself to blame. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to realize this.

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On October 31, 2007, publisher wrote:

Bush is loyal to his advisors and is very stubborn. His advisors are old Cuban exiles who give him outdated information about the world and he listens.

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On November 01, 2007, Yeyo wrote:

I agree with both earlier comments in this subject.
As a Cuban born and raised in Cuba I can tell you that the Embargo/Blockade is doing nothing but helping the Castro’s dictatorship.
The Embargo or “el bloqueo” (the blockade) as is called in Cuba is the main tool they need to confirm to the Cuban people and other countries around the world that the poverty the country is immerse in is due to the embargo and to the mean Americans.
I have mentioned earlier that when the Cuban government needs something, like medicines, high tech tools, machinery, etc. they can easily buy it in Canada, Mexico, Panama or elsewhere. The only cause of the misery Cubans live everyday is the bureaucratic, nepotist, authoritarian and corrupt government of Fidel Castro.
On the other hand what the Embargo is really doing is avoiding contacts between Americans (with their freeworld experiences) and the average Cubans. Those encounters may propel the interchange of experiences and give the Cubans hope and strength to look to the future.
Any measure that avoids human contacts is simply wrong.

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On November 06, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

From a hopeful start in 1945, the UN has declined into a Dictators’ Mutual Admiration Society, thus reducing the import of its resolutions.  The USA is a sovereign nation.  As such, it can trade, or not trade, with other nations as it sees fit.  Cuba has no end of alternate suppliers in Canada, Europe and Latin America, although cash up front may well be required in view of Cuba’s dodgy credit history.  American products will continue to be freely available in Cuba; for example, Kentucky bourbon is imported via Jamaica.