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UN urges end of US embargo on Cuba

General Assembly overwhelmingly votes for an end of US economic embargo on Cuba, whose FM says it amounts to genocide.

Last Modified: 29 Oct 2013 20:56
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The UN General Assembly has urged the US to end more than 5-decade-old economic embargo against Cuba [EPA]

The UN General Assembly has urged the US to end more than 5-decade-old economic embargo against Cuba, which Havana describes as barbaric and amounted to genocide.

This came in a symbolic vote of the 193-nation General Assembly on Tuesday. The unenforceable resolution was 188-2. The United States and Israel voted against it, while Pacific island states of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau abstained.

Envoys from around the world slammed US policy.

"The call of the international community is getting louder and louder, demanding that the US government change its policy toward Cuba," China's deputy UN ambassador Wang Min told the debate.

Bolivia's UN ambassador Sacha Llorenty Soliz said the embargo was "sullying the history of mankind" and finished his speech with the rallying cry: "Up with Cuba -- dear Cuba!"

European nations now oppose the embargo because US legislation even punishes foreign firms that trade with Cuba.

‘Barbaric genocide’

Speaking before the General Assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez railed against the embargo, saying "The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion."

"Our small island poses no threat to the national security of the superpower," Rodriguez said. "The human damages caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba are incalculable."

"Seventy-six percent of Cubans have lived under its devastating effects since the day they are born," he added.

"It provokes hardships and is a mass, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights," he said. "The fact that 53 years later the same policy still prevails is something extraordinary and barbaric."

He added that the blockade "has been classified as an act of genocide" under the Geneva Convention of 1948.

In return, US envoy Ronald Godard dismissed the resolution, saying that while Washington welcomed some of the recent changes in Cuba, the country "still has one of the most restrictive economic systems in the world."

He added that the United States continues to allow aid and monetary remittances to flow into Cuba.

"The United States is a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people," Godard said.

The embargo was enacted in 1960 following Cuba's nationalisation of properties belonging to US citizens and corporations. Sanctions were strengthened to a near-total embargo in 1962.

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