U.S. abstains from UN vote on Cuban embargo
UNITED NATIONS — The United States abstained for the first time in 25 years Wednesday on a U.N. resolution condemning America’s economic embargo against Cuba, a measure it had always opposed.
The U.S. was joined in abstaining by Israel, the only other country to vote against the embargo resolution in the General Assembly last year. When the vote — 191-0 with two abstentions — was shown on the electronic board, diplomats from the 193 U.N. member states burst into applause.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power announced the abstention just before the vote, saying that “after 55plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we are choosing to take the path of engagement.”
The U.S. decision to change its vote follows President Barack Obama’s restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and his support for lifting the embargo, which the Republican-led Congress opposes.
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced Dec. 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 U.S. call for human rights on the Caribbean island and claims for expropriated property.
Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., the son of Cuban immigrants, tweeted that the U.S. decision not to defend the “long-standing, bipartisan, human rights-based US law is shameful.”
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that the act that imposed sanctions on Cuba “isn’t a ‘failed policy’ (and) is the law of the United States, which should always be defended and upheld.”
Ambassador Samantha Power made the abstention announcement just before the vote Wednesday in New York.