There were 186 votes in favour to lift the embargo and two against (Israel and the US) and three abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau) as the General Assembly reiterated its call to all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures not conforming with their obligations to reaffirm freedom of trade and navigation.
Speaking after the vote, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Permanent Representative, Delano Bart said the twin-island Federation supported the resolution, even though it had very good relations with the United States, and remained one of its closest partners, respecting its international leadership.
He associated the statement with those previously made on behalf of CARICOM, Non-Aligned Movement and Group of 77 developing countries and China, because States should not affect free flow of trade or apply laws that impinge on sovereignty of other States.
Ambassador Bart said Cuba was also one of his country’s strongest allies — it aided development and cooperated within the Caribbean, and much could be learned from the country, but was prevented by the embargo.
“The embargo was a burden on the brothers and sisters of Cuba, with quite an unfair and profound impact. Indeed, other countries in grip of global recession could get outside help, but Cuba could not — that went against the very principles of the partnership of the United Nations. The fact that members annually overwhelmingly voted against the embargo implied that it was wrong, said the St. Kitts and Nevis United Nations representative.
Paulette Bethel of the Bahamas, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), reiterated the unequivocal opposition of CARICOM member States to the United States’ imposition of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba.
“The unilateral imposition of extraterritorial laws on third States was contrary to both the letter and spirit of the United Nations Charter, she said, adding that the embargo itself runs counter to the principles of the Organization.
She noted that CARICOM considered the embargo an anachronism in the twenty first century, contributing only to the suffering of generations of ordinary Cubans and unnecessarily increasing tensions between the United States and Cuba.
“Because the embargo served no justifiable legal, political or moral purpose today,” she said “CARICOM States therefore maintained the position that constructive engagement and peaceful negotiations remained the only acceptable means for advancing long-term peace and stability.”
Noting that the resolution on the matter of the embargo had been repeatedly and overwhelmingly adopted by the General Assembly, she stated that its continued disregard would only complicate the President of the General Assembly’s stated goal of improving the role of the United Nations in matters of global governance.
CARICOM believed that the Assembly President should explore additional mechanisms to operationalise the words of the current resolution.
The representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines noted United States President Barack Obama, in his inaugural address to the Assembly last year, said “alignments of nations rooted in the cleavages of a long gone Cold War” made no sense in an interconnected world, and, “the time has come to realize that the old habits and arguments are irrelevant to the challenges faced by our people.”
He said St. Vincent and the Grenadines “wholeheartedly” aligned itself with those words, as well as today’s statements by the Caribbean Community, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 developing countries and China.
There might be no clearer example of the United States’ disregard of overwhelming international opinion than its continued unilateral imposition of “this senseless blockade,” which had ,over the years, become “a policy in search of a justification.” he said.
A United States Government Accountability Office report last year said the President had discretion to further ease restrictions on measures causing suffering among Cubans, he noted.
“It was most unfortunate that any foreign president exerted such a direct and negative influence on day-to-day lives of another nation’s citizens, in flagrant disregard of international law,” he said.
President Obama’s cathartic and laudable statements rang hollow when viewed through the prism of existing legislation that attempted to “impose a cookie-cutter concept of democracy totally divorced from the culture, history and context of the Cuban people,” he said.