Cuba Goes To UNGA To Lift Blockade Still In Force Despite Renewed Ties With US

The blockade vs Cuba

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 (Bernama) -- Cuba intends to present a resolution before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) next month against the blockade imposed by the US, which still remained in place, despite renewed diplomatic ties more than a year ago.

Cuban Ambassador to Malaysia, Ibete Fernandez Hernandez, said at a press conference that the resolution titled "Necessity of Ending The Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States Against Cuba" will be brought before the 71st Session of the UNGA on Oct 26.

This will be the 25th time Cuba goes to the UNGA to present resolutions to lift sanctions imposed by the US. The first embargo imposed by the US on Cuba was on Oct 19, 1960.

Cuba and the US restored diplomatic relations on July 20 last year, which had been severed in 1961 during the Cold War.

Hernandez said that the resolution needed to be presented because economic, commercial and financial sanctions, were still in force although Havana and Washington restored ties and reopened embassies more than a year ago, coupled with President Barack Obama's visit to Cuba.

"This blockade constitutes a basic obstacle to the process aimed at normalising the relations between the two countries," the ambassador said.

She said that Cubans appreciated Obama's move in restoring diplomatic ties last year and his visit to Cuba this year, but until now the embargo on the island was still in force and continued to cause profound repercussions on the Cuban economy.

Hernandez claimed that the cumulative cost of the embargo to the Cuban people totalled US$125,873,000,000.

The envoy emphasised that although the amendments made in 2015 and this year by the US Treasury and Commerce Departments to some of the regulations of the blockade policy in order to modify their implementation were steps in the right direction, they were not enough.

Among other things, she said that the US continued to ban the exports of products and equipment to Cuba, which were important to the key sectors of Cuba's economy.

She emphasied that the blockade prevented Cuba from exporting and importing products to or from the US.

Furthermore, Cuba could not have direct banking relations with the US or receive US investment in other sectors of the economy except in telecommunications.

She explained that although the president could approve measures in order to modify applications of the blockade, it could not be fully lifted as many of the restrictions were codified in legislation that only Congress could change.

However Fernandez believed in the American democracy and that the sanctions would be finally lifted.

"It would be a long is not going to happen from today, but at the end of the day, if they (US Congress) wants to demonstrate that there is real democracy, they have to lift the blockade. I don't know when but they have to do it," she said.

Asked what the scenario would be after the US Presidential Election on Nov 8, she said that if Hillary Clinton wins, she expected her not to "break" Obama's legacy and will still continue bilateral relations with Cuba, but it would not be at the same pace.

As such, she said that it was crucial for Cuba to continue to push (for the lifting of the sanctions) at the UNGA as well as at government-to-government level.

She also thanked Malaysia for supporting Cuba and for consistently voting for the lifting of the blockade.