U.S. ab­stains from UN vote on Cuban em­bargo

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Edith M. Led­erer and Matthew Lee

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.”

BE­BETO MATTHEWS/AP

Am­bas­sador Sa­man­tha Power made the ab­sten­tion an­nounce­ment just be­fore the vote Wed­nes­day in New York.

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