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UN member states condemn US embargo of Cuba for 20th consecutive year

 

The Associated Press

 

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba for the 20th year in a row.

 

The final tally was 186-2, with only Israel joining the United States as it did last year. The small Pacific nations of Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained as they also did last year.

 

Last year’s tally for the symbolic measure was almost identical, 187-2, with three abstentions.

 

Envoys for Vietnam, Russia, Nicaragua and many other countries, as well as the 120-member Nonaligned Movement, spoke Tuesday in favor of the measure calling for the end of the American embargo against the Caribbean country.

 

“The only consequences of the sanctions are the deterioration of the living standard of the Cuban population, creation of artificial barriers to its economic growth and infringement on the rights and interests of third countries,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

 

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said that the sanctions have caused direct economic damages of close to $1 trillion to the Cuban people over nearly half a century.

 

The United States has not eased the embargo in the nearly three years since President Barack Obama’s election raised hopes for a change in policy, he added.

 

“Despite the false image of flexibility that the current U.S. administration intends to portray, the blockade and the sanctions remain intact,” Rodriguez told the assembly.

 

“Why doesn’t President Obama’s administration take care of the U.S. problems and leave us Cubans alone to solve ours in peace?”

 

The United States has made clear it is not prepared to lift the sanctions entirely until the communist-run nation makes more far-reaching political and economic changes.

 

American Ambassador Ronald D. Godard, U.S. Senior Area Adviser for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said the embargo is a bilateral issue and “not appropriately a concern of this assembly.”

 

Godard said the sanctions represent “just one aspect of U.S. policy toward Cuba, whose overarching goal is to encourage a more open environment in Cuba and increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”