Nov 3, 2022 - World

UN votes to condemn U.S. embargo of Cuba

A general view shows a United Nations General Assembly meeting

A general view shows a United Nations General Assembly meeting regarding the commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday voted 185-2 to condemn the U.S. embargo of Cuba for the 30th year in a row.

Why it matters: Although UN resolutions are non-binding and aren't legally enforceable, they carry political weight by illustrating the isolation of the U.S. position and the heft of global opinion against it.

State of play: Only the U.S. and Israel voted to oppose the resolution, while Brazil and Ukraine abstained, AP reported.

  • Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla addressed the UNGA ahead of the vote, calling the embargo a "deliberate act of economic warfare with the purpose of preventing financial income to the country, destroying the government's ability to meet the needs of the population, causing the economy to collapse and creating a situation of ungovernability."
  • Since 2019, the U.S. has "escalated the siege against our country to an extreme dimension, more cruel and inhumane, to deliberately inflict the greatest possible damage to Cuban families," Rodríguez added.

The big picture: While the Obama administration opened up commerce and travel to Cuba, the Trump administration reversed many of its decisions.

  • The Biden administration has in turn reversed some of the Trump administration's moves, but has retained its predecessor's vote to oppose the measure, per AP.
  • Rodríguez acknowledged that there have been some "positive actions" by the Biden administration, but underscored that, by and large, it lacks its own policy towards Cuba, and is instead merely continuing the policy of "maximum pressure" established under its predecessor.

What they're saying: The U.S. said in its explanation of the vote, that while it holds "the Cuban government accountable, our support for the Cuban people is unwavering."

  • "The Cuban government has used harsh prison sentences, even against minors, intimidation tactics, arrests, Internet interruptions, government-sponsored mobs, and horrendous prison conditions to try to prevent Cubans from exercising their human rights," political counselor John Kelley said Thursday at the General Assembly.
  • "We encourage this body to urge the Cuban government to listen to the Cuban people and their demands to determine their own future," he continued.

Go deeper: U.S. lifts Trump-era flight restrictions on Cuba

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from the United States Mission to the United Nations.

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