Tomorrow, the United Nations General Assembly will likely vote overwhelmingly to condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba for an 18th consecutive year. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) strongly applauds this statement from the international community and the nations of Latin America.
For the first time, the United States will defend the embargo donning the title of the only nation in the Western Hemisphere without formal diplomatic relations with Cuba. In May of this year, long-time U.S. ally El Salvador restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, leaving the U.S. as the only country in the hemisphere that has yet to do so. Strategic U.S. partners, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia maintain full diplomatic relations with Cuba and have consistently opposed the embargo vis-à-vis regional forums including the Organization of American States, the Rio Group and MERCOSUR.
"While condemnation of the embargo is not a new message from Latin America, the unanimity and frequency with which the embargo is denounced reminds us that it remains a significant irritant in U.S-Latin America relations," said WOLA Program Director, Geoff Thale.
The Obama Administration has taken initial steps to change U.S. policy toward Cuba, including removing restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans and restarting talks with Cuban officials on migration and the resumption of direct mail service between the U.S and Cuba. Yet, in the U.N. Secretary General's 2009 report on the U.S. embargo against Cuba, many Latin American governments call on the United States to take greater action.
The Government of Brazil "urges all sides to work towards expanding these initiatives to bring about real change for the Cuban people, who suffer the most from the blockade. Direct dialogue with no preconditions should be pursued." While the Mexican Government "underlines that this type of measure has serious humanitarian consequences that are contrary to international law…"
"Earlier this year at the Summit of the Americas, President Obama spoke of the progress that can be made when our hemisphere's leaders ‘break free of stale debates' in regards to U.S. relations with Latin America, said Thale. "It is time to demonstrate a commitment to this important principle and shift U.S. policy toward Cuba into a new era."
Geoff Thale, Program Director
Photo by Union Nations Photo via Flickr Creative Commons.