India joins intl community urging end to US embargo on Cuba

cubaNEW YORK: India has joined the international community to back a UN resolution seeking the early withdrawal of the over five-decade long economic, commercial and financial embargo on Cuba by the United States.

Except for the US and Israel, 191 of the 193-member countries of the United Nations yesterday voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution – “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”.

At the height of the Cold War, the US had imposed the trade embargo on Cuba in 1959. It has remained in force and can only be lifted by the US Congress, which has steadfastly rejected such a move.

Introducing the resolution, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla alleged the US new policy on Cuba was intended to take relations back to a past of confrontation.

Notably, last year both the US and Israel had abstained from the vote for the first time since it was tabled in 1992.

India continued with its position on Cuba. “As the world’s largest democracy with abiding faith in multilateralism, India stands in solidarity with the international community in its unambiguous rejection of domestic laws having extraterritorial impact,” said MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who addressed the General Assembly to represent India’s position on the issue.

Noting that the continued embargo would severely impact Cuba’s ability to implement the comprehensive 2030 Agenda, he said the international community needs to step up its efforts to promote an environment free from sanctions and embargoes.

“India hopes for the withdrawal of this embargo at the earliest,” the Member of Parliament said as India voted in support of the resolution.

It calls upon all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures, in line with their obligations under the UN Charter and international law, which, among other things, reaffirmed the freedom of trade and navigation.

It also urged States that have and continue to apply such laws and measures to take the steps necessary to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible, he said.

Parrilla also said that two-third of the US population, including Cuban immigrants living in America, were in favor of lifting the blockade.

He said that action to the contrary meant that the US Government was acting in an undemocratic fashion.

The Cuban Foreign Minister said on June 16, US President Donald Trump announced a series of measures intended to tighten the blockade in a hostile speech before an audience made up of staunch followers of the Batista regime, annexationists and terrorists.

“President Trump does not have the least moral authority to question Cuba. He is heading a Government of millionaires destined to implement savage measures against lower-income families, poor people, minorities and immigrants,” he alleged.

Voting against this annual resolution for the 25th time in 26 years, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, the US opposes this resolution in continued solidarity with the Cuban people and in the hope that they will one day be free to choose their own destiny.

“We might stand alone today. But when the day of freedom comes for the Cuban people and it will come we will rejoice with them as only a free people can,” she said.

“As long as we are members of the UN, we will stand for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms that the member States of this body have pledged to protect, even if we have to stand alone,” she said.

Speaking in support of the resolution, Bandyopadhyay said the issue of the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed five decades ago by the US against Cuba has now been considered annually by the General Assembly for more than two and a half decades.

“The continued existence of this embargo, in contravention of world opinion, as expressed by this Assembly, undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the UN itself,” he said.

The Russian representative, Vassily A Nebenzia called the embargo a relic of the past and a glaring interference in the internal affairs of a State.

The embargo was not just a discriminatory practice, unfair and pointless, it undermined the basis for regional and global stability by making sanctions a way of life, he said.

Nebenzia said that while his country had welcomed the US abstaining from the vote last year, any expected normalization of relations had been halted by the new administration in Washington DC. “What we are hearing today is hostile cold war rhetoric,” he added.-PTI

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