Thursday, November 09, 2006

It’s time to reconsider the U.S. embargo of Cuba

The General Assembly of the United Nations has again adopted a resolution calling on the United States to end the economic embargo imposed upon Cuba in 1961. Regardless of the actions of the U.N. General Assembly, a re-evaluation of U.S. policy is way overdue as argued here before. Reasonable people can disagree about the merits of the embargo almost half a century ago. However, it is difficult to find a reasonable argument today to keep this policy in effect.

This from the VOA:

For the 15th consecutive year, the General Assembly approved a non-binding measure criticizing Washington's embargo against Fidel Castro's Cuba. The vote this time was virtually the same as last year: 183-4, with only Israel and two small Pacific island states voting with the United States.

The vote on the resolution has become an annual exercise in the Assembly since 1992. This year's list of speakers condemning the embargo and America's human rights policies included such vocal U.S. critics as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Syria, Burma, Belarus, China, Vietnam and Laos.

Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque personally represented Havana. He blasted the embargo, calling it tantamount to genocide.

"The economic war waged by the United States against Cuba, which is the most extensive and cruel war that has existed, and which can be qualified as an act of genocide, and is a clear violation of international law and of the United Nations charter, over these 48 years, the United States embargo has caused in Cuba economic damage in excess of $86 billion," he said.

The U.S. representative at the session, Ambassador Ronald Godard, rejected the charges. He called the embargo a bilateral issue between the United States and Cuba.

General Assembly resolutions have no legal effect, and they have had no effect in the past. But the vote is considered a barometer of international opinion.

The United States imposed the trade embargo after Fidel Castro defeated a failed CIA-backed assault on the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

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