[News] UN Votes Overwhelmingly Against U.S. Embargo on Cuba...

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Fri Oct 29 12:28:18 EDT 2004

UN Votes Overwhelmingly Against U.S. Embargo on Cuba

Thu Oct 28, 2004 02:49 PM ET

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Friends and adversaries of the United States
voted overwhelmingly in the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday against
the four-decade-old American economic, financial and commercial embargo
against Cuba.

The vote, conducted for the 13th consecutive year, was a lopsided 179 to 4
with one abstention on the resolution opposing the embargo. The United
States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands voted "no" and Micronesia

Cuba has been under a U.S. trade and travel embargo since
Fidel Castro defeated a CIA-backed assault at the Bay of
Pigs in 1961. In subsequent years, some foreign firms have
been threatened with penalties for dealing with Cuba.

"The U.S. government has unleashed a world wide genocidal economic war
against Cuba," said Havana's foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, the
only speaker warmly applauded.

But the U.S. delegate said Cuba has shown no interest implementing
economic reforms that would lead to democratic change or a free market.

"The Cuban government is not a victim as it contends.
Rather it is a tyrant, aggressively punishing anyone who
dares to have a differing opinion," said Oliver Garza, a
State Department adviser.

Members of the European Union, along with such U.S. allies
as Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, voted for the resolution,
which is nonbinding. They again objected to the "extra-territorial"
effects of U.S. legislation that punishes non-U.S. firms for commercial
dealings with Cuba.

"The European Union strongly condemns the current human
rights situation in Cuba, which since 2003 has not shown
any significant improvement," said the Netherlands deputy ambassador,
Arjan Hamburger, speaking for the EU.

Typical of the more than dozen speakers was Mexico's
delegate, who criticized the United States for not heeding
the resolutions year after year, saying this weakened the U.N.'s
multilateral role.

"Mexico is concerned that this type of resolutions that are presented
year after year do not have any effect on the reality they seek to
change," said Mexican U.N. Ambassador Enrique Berruga.

Garza denied the United States was denying Cuba food and medicine,
saying its had licensed over $1.1 billion in sales and donations since
1992 and agricultural goods worth more than $5 billion since 2001. In
addition remittances amounted to about $1 billion a year, he said.

But Cuba's Perez said that if Washington was so sure Cuba
was using the blockade as a pretext "why does it not lift
the blockade and leave us without a pretext?"

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