Once again the international community represented at the United Nations General Assembly on November 7 has spoken and voted to reject overwhelmingly the financial and economic blockade (embargo) imposed by the United States against Cuba through unilateral sanctions. The US blockade has been imposed in an escalating progression over the last 57 years with the most damaging rapid increase in the last few months under the Trump administration. Yet, Cuba thrives socially and internationally, if not economically. Despite the undeniable negative impact of the blockade on the population, by and large the majority of Cubans are confidently committed to resisting and enduring. But what motivates that courageous resilience and the international support for Cuba?
The UN vote was on a resolution presented by Cuba based on its report titled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. The vote resulted in 187 in favor of ending the US blockade of Cuba, 3 (US, “Israel” and Brazil) against, and 2 (Colombia and Ukraine ) abstained.
This is not the first time that such a vote has taken place and therefore it should not catch us by surprise. A similar vote has been called for the last 28 years where Cuba has received majority support. In 2018 only two nations voted against, the United States and “Israel”.
The reason for Cuba’s persistent international denunciation of the US-driven blockade is that it is illegal, unfair and harmful to all Cubans. In just one year from April 2018 to March 2019 it has brought losses to Cuba for US$4.3 billion.
The Obama administration had eased restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba, which led the way to reopening embassies in Washington and Havana in 2014 and to Obama’s visit to Havana in 2016. With the exception of the embassies that remain open, the Trump administration has reversed those policies and added more. In 2018, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton included Cuba in what he called the “Troika of tyranny” together with Venezuela and Nicaragua. But more threatening has been the activation for the first time since 1996 of the section Title III of the Helms-Burton Act that allows Cuban-Americans and US citizens to sue Cuban companies and potentially foreign companies in US courts for “trafficking” in properties legally nationalised by the Cuban government.