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UNGA asks US to lift embargo against Cuba

But the US is expected to ignore the call given in a resolution adopted by 183 votes to four with one abstention.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 14:19 IST

For the 15th straight year, the 192-member United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly asked the United States to lift its 45-year old unilateral economic and commercial embargo against Cuba as soon as possible after defeating an Australian amendment asking Havana to free political prisoners and respect human rights.

But the United States, as in the previous years, is expected to ignore the call given in a resolution adopted on Wednesday by 183 votes to four with one abstention.

Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau joined the United States in voting against the resolution while Micronesia abstained.

During debate on the resolution, several members, including India, criticized the extra-territorial aspects of the American legislations, which targets foreign companies and foreign subsidiaries of American companies doing business with Cuba.

Addressing the Assembly, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque equated the embargo to genocide and described it as a "flagrant violation of international law and the charter of the United Nations."

American deputy Ambassador Ronald Godard accused Cuba of ignoring the human, economic, labour and political rights.

Speaking on the resolution, Indian delegate Vijaya Raghavan, MP, reiterated New Delhi's opposition to extra-territorial aspects of the economic embargo that had been implemented through 1992 Cuban Democracy Act and the 1996 Helms Burton Act.

He also stressed the need for consolidating endeavours toward the creation and strengthening of conducive economic environment capable of providing equal opportunities to all countries.

The sanctions have limited Cuba's access to markets, capital, technology and investment, he said, pointing out that they are not in conformity with multilateral trading regimes and cannot be justified even under the GATT exception clause of "essential security interests".

In a normal situation, Raghavan said Cuba and the United States would be natural economic partners, benefiting mutually from trade.

It is our understanding that a considerable part of US businesses would like to take advantage of the Cuban market.

The imports of food and agriculture from United States, which account for 13 per cent of total Cuban imports of food and agriculture, reflected the impact of the US legislation enacted in 2000 had, he added.

The embargo, Raghavan said, has had an impact on the Cuban efforts towards the eradication of poverty, improving livelihoods and promoting socio-economic development.

They also hinder the full enjoyment of human rights, such as the right to development, right to food, medical care and social services, which, despite these constraints, are of a high order.

First Published: Nov 09, 2006 14:19 IST