On Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly condemned the United States embargo on Cuba for the 23rd consecutive year, calling for it to be lifted.
The nonbinding resolution, titled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba“, vote passed 188-2, with only the U.S. and Israel voting against it. As in the 2013 vote, Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained. While General Assembly resolutions cannot be enforced, the annual vote—which first passed in 1992—gives Cuba an opportunity to call for negotiations with the U.S.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Tuesday asked the U.S. to “try to find a solution to our differences through respectful dialogue,” noting that 77 percent of Cubans have been born under the embargo “that has seriously impeded the economic development of the country.”
“Although our social and health system have prevented the loss of lives, no honest person, in the world or in the United States, can support its devastating consequences,” Rodriguez said.
During the vote, several countries—including Iran, Bolivia, Mexico, and India—praised Cuba for its recent efforts in fighting the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. The island nation sent more than 600 doctors to Sierra Leone and the surrounding region, actions that the World Health Organization said were some of the “most important” contributions by a single country.
U.S. envoy Ronald Godard dismissed Tuesday’s resolution, saying the Cuban government uses the vote to “attempt to shift blame” for economic problems that are the country’s own creation.
Despite Godard’s statement, even opinions in Washington are increasingly divided. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for the embargo to be lifted, stating in her book Hard Choices that it is no longer useful to American interests.
Washington broke diplomatic ties and imposed a comprehensive trade embargo on the Communist-run Caribbean island more than half a century ago during the Cold War. Its policy today appears to be influenced by domestic politics in Florida, where Cuban exiles have opposed any conciliation with former President Fidel Castro or current President Raul Castro, who took over for his brother in 2008.