Cuba once more seeks UN condemnation of US embargo

Cuba, classic car, taxi
Under current law, Cubans can only freely buy and sell cars that were on the road in Cuba before Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution. Credit: Dr. Thomas Miett

For the 22nd consecutive year, Cuba will ask the United Nations to condemn the United States economic embargo against the island, a top Cuban official announced on Monday, accusing Washington of tightening sanctions in place for more than half a century.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who stated before taking office that he wanted to recast long-hostile U.S.-Cuba relations, has been a disappointment to the Cuban government, which expected him to do more to dismantle the embargo.

The embargo, fully in place since 1962, has done “astronomical” economic harm, Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno said during a news conference to present Cuba’s annual report on the damage wrought on the Communist-run Caribbean island by U.S. sanctions.

Last year the vote at the U.N. General Assembly was overwhelming, with 188 nations – including most of Washington’s closest allies – condemning the embargo. Only the United States, Israel and the tiny Pacific state of Palau supported it.

This year the debate and vote is scheduled for October 29.

Obama has lifted some restrictions on travel and on the sending of remittances to the island, but Moreno said the embargo and its enforcement had been broadened in other areas.

“The blockade not only is being maintained, but strengthened in some aspects,” Moreno charged.

“I ask what right does the United States have to sanction companies that are not North American,” he said, charging that since Obama took office in 2009, fines against embargo violators, domestic and foreign, had dramatically increased and totaled $2.5 billion to date.

Cuba says the embargo is a blockade because it punishes third country companies for doing business with Havana.

Many critics of Cuba’s one-party system, including dissidents on the island, also have called for lifting the embargo, saying it is counter-productive.

BANKS RELUCTANT TO DEAL WITH CUBA

Moreno said foreign banks were increasingly cautious about any transactions involving Cuba due to U.S. pressure, something confirmed by numerous foreign businessmen in Havana.

“Banks calculate the risk versus the gain in doing business with Cuba, even if transactions are legal,” said a foreign banker who asked to remain anonymous.

“Given that Cuba is on the U.S. terrorist list, many times banks decide it is not worth that risk and potential hassles and the trend has accelerated in recent years,” he said.

Cuba held the news conference, where it announced the draft U.N. resolution calling for an end to the embargo, at the William Soler children’s heart center to emphasize that the sanctions do not discriminate between the country’s political leadership and innocent people and amounts to what it calls “genocide.”

The hospital’s director, Eugenio Selman-Housein Sosa, said his center often lacked the most modern equipment and medicines because U.S. companies predominated in some sectors and Washington’s regulations on checking end-users made business next to impossible.

“In the case of Cuba this becomes dramatic,” he said, because the sanctions “impede the acquisition of products that literally signify the difference between life and death.”

Always contentious U.S.-Cuba relations thawed briefly under Obama, but progress came to a halt when Cuba arrested U.S. contractor Alan Gross in Havana in December 2009.

Gross was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for setting up Internet networks in Cuba under a controversial U.S. program that Cuba views as subversive.

The two countries, which do not have diplomatic relations, have renewed immigration and postal service talks suspended after Gross’s arrest, but there are no signals of any major improvement in the foreseeable future.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

National

PHOTO: New Zealand Heral uses wrong image to…

The New Zealand Herald made a terrible mistake of using the wrong image to illustrate the tragic death of Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland – a New Zealand-born Israeli soldier who…

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.