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UNGA overwhelmingly condemns US embargo on Cuba

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24, 2019 (Xinhua) — Participants attend the opening of the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 24, 2019. (Xinhua/Li Muzi/IANS)

Havana: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has once again overwhelmingly condemned the US trade embargo on Cuba, with 187 of 193 member states approving a non-binding resolution to that effect.

The only nations that voted against the measure on Thursday were the US, Israel and Brazil, which under President Jair Bolsonaro has switched positions on this issue, Efe news reported.

Colombia and Ukraine abstained and Moldova chose not to vote on the resolution, which calls for an end to the “economic, commercial and financial embargo” on the Communist-ruled island.

Only the US and Israel voted last year against the measure, while Moldova and Ukraine opted not to participate.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez alleged beforehand that the US was pressuring Latin American countries to vote against the resolution, which Havana brings before the UN every year.

This year marks the first time Brazil has voted in favour of the embargo.

Shortly before the vote, the US’s new permanent representative to the UN, Kelly Craft, said the international community was questioning her country’s right to choose its trading partners.

“Like all nations, we get to choose which countries we trade with. This is our sovereign right. So, it is worrying that the international community, in the name of protecting sovereignty, continues to challenge this right,” Craft said.

But that argument was rejected by numerous other countries, with Finland’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Jukka Salovaara, saying the US’s “extraterritorial application” of sanctions affects the European Union’s interests.

That was a reference to President Donald Trump’s administration’s decision this year to activate Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a 1996 US law that tightened the long-standing US embargo on Cuba.

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Title III, which allows US citizens (mainly Cuban-Americans) and corporations to sue entities that have been “trafficking” in property that was seized by the island’s government on or after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, had not gone into effect until May 2 due to rolling six-month waivers.

Trump, however, allowed waivers to Title III to expire as part of efforts to bring about political change in Cuba and roll back predecessor Barack Obama’s efforts to forge closer ties with Havana.

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