179 Countries Vote Against the Blockade of Cuba

The following article is reprinted from Granma, November 5, 2003.

The UN General Assembly voted by an overwhelming majority this November 4 to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States.

A resolution adopted here in that respect obtained the record total of 179 votes in favor, just the United States, Israel and the Marshall Islands against, and only two abstentions.

The vote recalls declarations made by the heads of state and government at Ibero-American Summits in relation to the need to eliminate the unilateral application of measures of an economic and commercial nature affecting the unfettered development of international trade.

It also expresses concern at the continued promulgation and application of laws and regulations such as the U.S. Helm-Burton Act that affect the sovereignty of other states, the legitimate interests of entities and persons under their jurisdiction, and freedom of trade and navigation.

In consequence it reiterates its exhortation on all states to abstain from undertaking actions of this kind, and urges the most rapid repeal or annulment possible of those in existence.

The UN secretary general is asked to prepare a report on the present resolution "in the light of the aims and principles of the organization's Charter and international law for presentation to the General Assembly in its next period of sessions."

In that way the issue remains on the program of debates for next year as a question of constant interest.

Cuba received the express support of important groups of countries for its demand for an end to the blockade.

When the General Assembly session on the issue was opened, the Mexican representative was the first to speak in favor of the anti-blockade resolution. In succession so did Morocco, on behalf of the Group of 77 plus China; Jamaica, for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); and Malaysia, which presides over the Non-Aligned Movement.

Each of them firmly expressed their opposition to the prolonged policy of harassment in violation of the UN Charter, international law and freedom of trade and navigation.

Viet Nam referred to interference in the sovereignty of states and the non-justification of a blockade that has been unable to force Cubans to give up their efforts to construct a more just society.

After Foreign Minister Felipe P‚rez Roque's speech, received with an ovation, representatives from other countries added their words of support to the resolution presented by Cuba.

The first to do so was the Namibian representative, who maintained that the application of that policy of hostility constitutes an obstacle to the millennium development goals.

South Africa lamented that the issue had to be discussed yet again, despite reiterated calls from the international community to the United States and stated that it was no surprise that the overwhelming majority continues to support the resolution under debate.

For his part the Tanzanian speaker spoke of the violations to freedom of trade and how this has worsened with the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts, which have caused fresh damage to the Cuban economy and that of third countries.

Venezuela shared the general condemnation of the U.S. measures, which constitute a flagrant violation of Cubans' human rights. It called on the General Assembly to adopt measures to repeal legislation such as the Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts.

Sudan reiterated the right of nations to their self-determination and urged a rejection of any attempt to impose unilateral decisions against states.

Iran called on the international community to demand an end to the blockade and to prevent the utilization of food and medicine as instruments of political pressure.

Guinea noted how the continuity of the proposal in the UN symbolizes cohesive world opposition to the U.S. hostile measures against Cuba.

The representatives of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Syria, Indonesia and Laos spoke in similar terms. Given the number of countries that had asked to speak and the length of the debate, the president of the General Assembly decided to move to an immediate vote on the resolution.