12:25.- Final vote: 191 in favour // 2 abstentions // and zero against. For the first time in history, the world unanimously rejects the U.S. blockade against Cuba.
12:10.- Rodríguez thanked Samantha Power for her touching words regarding the Cuban doctor who contracted Ebola whilst serving on an internationalist mission in West Africa, noting however, that Cuban medical assistance has been hindered by Washington’s financial persecution of the island.
12:07.- The Cuban Minister highlights the incalculable human losses caused by the blockade; noting that there is not a single Cuban family that has not suffered its effects.
12:05.- The most important and the right thing, is to dismantle the blockade, states Rodríguez.
12:04.- In this regard he notes that no changes were made in the financial sphere, and as such Cuban institutions continue to be unable to open corresponding bank accounts in the U.S.
12:03.- The Cuban official recalls that President Obama has extensive prerogatives to continue modifying the application of the blockade, however he notes that many of these are aimed at benefiting the U.S., citing the new package of measures issued 12 days ago by the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Commerce, allowing citizens from that country to purchase and import unlimited quantities of rum and cigars for their personal use, while exports of these products to the U.S. remains prohibited.
12:00.- Rodríguez notes that although Obama has taken steps to modify the application of the blockade, the majority of regulations remain in place and are applied with force. Moreover, he highlights the interventionist nature of measures taken in the telecommunication sphere for example, while noting the clear political motives behind those related to trade relations.
11:54.- The Cuban Foreign minister recalls that for 24 years the UN has voted to support the resolution, while the Cuban people have resisted for 58.
11:51.- Rodríguez describes the decision by the U.S. to abstain from the vote – after 23 years opposing the resolution – as a positive step toward advancing the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.
11:50.- Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, presents the resolution against the blockade. Recalling the events of the last two years he highlights the return of the three remaining Cuban anti-terrorists; opening of embassies in both capital cities; and President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Havana.
11:47.- Samantha Power concludes by calling for an end to the blockade imposed by her country on Cuba, stating that despite differences, the two countries can collaborate
The two countries may not agree on all issues, Power said, but can collaborate in the UN to confront global challenges. She recalled that in 2014, when the Ebola epidemic erupted in West Africa, Cuba and the United States were able to cooperate and work jointly, adding that Cuba’s contribution was significant for a country with only 11 million inhabitants.
Abstaining on this resolution, she continued, does not mean the U.S. is in agreement with all of Cuba’s policies, but recognizes that there is good reason for the two countries to have a relationship and noted that the Cuban government has had success in many areas.
She states that this is a clear example demonstrating that U.S. policy toward Cuba has been ineffective. Cuba has not been isolated, on the contrary, she says, as the UN votes have shown, the U.S. is isolated, emphasizing that President Obama decided to make a decisive change.
The United States representative, Samantha Power, approaches the podium and announces that her country will abstain in the General Assembly vote on putting an end to the blockade. This is the first time in 24 years that the United States has changed its position.
Speaking for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) was the representative from Jamaica who stated that the blockade limits the ability of the proud, independent Cuban people from conducting basic financial transactions internationally, emphasizing that the policy’s goal of forcing change in Cuba has only produced suffering for the population.
The representative said that the anachronistic blockade violates the United Nations Charter and repeated General Assembly votes reflect worldwide solidarity with Cuba, adding that Caricom hopes to see this vestige of the Cold War end.
The Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) was represented by a speaker from Singapore who expressed support for Cuba’s resolution. He applauded progress made in relations between Cuba and the United States, while noting that much remains to be done, most importantly, eliminating the blockade.
First to speak was the representative of African nations who reaffirmed their support to the Cuban resolution calling for an end to the hostile U.S. policy. He was followed by a speaker from Thailand, representing the Group of 77 +China, who expressed concern given the accumulated damage to the Cuban people caused by the blockade over many years, adding that President Obama could do more.
This morning October 26, Cuban ambassador to the U.S. José Ramón Cabañas announced on his Twitter account that the General Assembly session to vote on the U.S. blockade of Cuba was about to open. Speakers from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean were among the first to express support for the Cuban resolution