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

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.