US ab­stains from UN vote on Cuba em­bargo

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

Thick smoke and flames rise from amid the tents after fires were started in the makeshift mi­grant camp known as ‘the jun­gle’ near Calais, north­ern France, on Wed­nes­day. Fire­fight­ers have doused sev­eral dozen fires set by mi­grants as they left the makeshift camp where they have been. WASH­ING­TON (AP): THE UNITED States on Wed­nes­day will ab­stain for the first time from a United Na­tions res­o­lu­tion criticising Amer­ica’s eco­nomic em­bargo against Cuba, ac­cord­ing to diplo­mats fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter. Such a step would ef­fec­tively pit the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and Cuba with the world body against the Repub­li­can-led Congress, which sup­ports the 55-year-old em­bargo de­spite the US re­sump­tion of full di­plo­matic re­la­tions with Cuba.

The diplo­mats said the US am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, Samantha Power, will ex­plain the de­ci­sion shortly be­fore the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly vote. The diplo­mats spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not autho­rised to dis­cuss the vote pub­licly.

A US of­fi­cial said Power would point to ele­ments of this year’s res­o­lu­tion that the US does not back, de­spite its over­all sup­port for lift­ing the em­bargo, as the rea­son why the US was ab­stain­ing in­stead of vot­ing for the res­o­lu­tion out­right.

The US has al­ways op­posed the an­nual res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing the em­bargo. But an ab­sten­tion would be in keep­ing with the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s be­lief that the em­bargo should be lifted as part of nor­mal­is­ing di­plo­matic re­la­tions with Cuba.

Gen­eral Assem­bly res­o­lu­tions are non­bind­ing and un­en­force­able. But the 24year-old ex­er­cise in which the UN over­whelm­ingly votes to con­demn the em­bargo has given Cuba a global stage to demon­strate Amer­ica’s iso­la­tion on its Cuba pol­icy.

SPIRIT OF EN­GAGE­MENT

The ad­min­is­tra­tion had con­sid­ered ab­stain­ing from the vote last year, but con­cluded it could not do so be­cause the res­o­lu­tion did not re­flect what it con­sid­ered to be the spirit of en­gage­ment be­tween Obama and Cuban Pres­i­dent Raúl Cas­tro.

The 2015 vote ended up 191-2 to con­demn the com­mer­cial, eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial em­bargo against Cuba; it was the high­est num­ber of votes ever for the mea­sure. Only Is­rael joined the United States in op­pos­ing the res­o­lu­tion.

Obama and Cas­tro an­nounced on De­cem­ber 17, 2014, that they were restor­ing di­plo­matic ties, which were bro­ken in 1961 after Fidel Cas­tro took power and in­stalled a com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment.

On July 20 last year, di­plo­matic re­la­tions were re­stored and em­bassies of the two coun­tries were re­opened, but se­ri­ous is­sues re­main, es­pe­cially the US call for hu­man rights on the Caribbean is­land and claims for ex­pro­pri­ated prop­erty.

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