The Guardian 2 November, 2005

UN to vote again on Cuba blockade

On November 8, the United Nations General Assembly will vote once more on the lifting of the economic blockade imposed by the US on its island neighbour, Cuba. Last year the vote was a resounding condemnation of the aggressive policy — 179 nations (including Australia) voted for the lifting of the blockade, with the US, Israel and Marshall Islands voting against and abstentions from Micronesia and Morocco. The vote against this year could well be even more overwhelming, putting even greater pressure on the Bush Administration to drop the 45-year-old act of aggression.

At a press conference held last week in Sydney, the Cuban Consul General in Australia, Nelida Hernandez, called on the Australian Government to support the UN resolution calling for an end to the blockade. She pointed out that Australian businesses wanting to trade with Cuba have not been immune from the bullying and threats from successive US Administrations.

The 15th Iberamerican summit of Spanish and Latin American government representatives held recently in Madrid has called for the lifting of the measure. In its resolution, the delegates referred to it as a "blockade" and not the US-preferred term "embargo".

Commissions of Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power have issued a call for their colleagues and parliamentarians world-wide to call for an end to the economic, commercial and financial blockade of their country.

Cuba's Deputy Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, recently reported that Cuba has suffered economic losses of US$82 billion due to the blockade. This figure is in addition to the US$54 billion worth of losses that are attributable to acts of terrorism and sabotage stimulated, financed and organised from the US.

He described the blockade as an act of genocide against the people of the developing Caribbean nation, as defined by Article II of the Geneva Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948.

The Deputy Foreign Minister also pointed out that the blockade is in violation of international law and the principles of the UN Charter by preventing freedom of trade and navigation and by imposing a blockade in peacetime.

Along with the many grave economic consequences of the blockade for the Cuban people, they continue to suffer many slights and irritations. For example, Dr Vincente Vérez will not be permitted to travel from Cuba to the US to receive the California Technical Museum's award for his contribution to the development of a vaccine against haemophilus influenza type B. The Bush Administration has declared that his attendance at the award ceremony in San José would be prejudicial to the interests of the US.

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