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UN General Assembly Condemns US Embargo of Cuba

The U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a resolution condemning the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. The measure was adopted for the 13th consecutive year.

The 191-member General Assembly approved the non-binding resolution by a vote of 179 to four, with one abstention.

Only Israel and two Pacific island nations stood with the United States.

Cuba's foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, was on hand for the vote. He received applause from the Assembly after a speech in which he accused the United States of denying food and medicine to Cubans as part of a worldwide genocidal war against his country. He spoke through an interpreter.

"Its acts are clear to the Assembly that the blame lies with it, that the blockade exists, it's hardened day by day, and it's savagely applied, provoking the almost unanimous repudiation of the international community of this policy directed against Cuba," said Mr. Roque.

State Department adviser Oliver Garza, representing the United States, called the embargo a bilateral matter. Speaking through an interpreter, he said it should not be an issue for the General Assembly.

He rejected the Cuban criticisms as an attempt to divert attention from their failed economic policies.

"Arguments that the United States is denying Cuba access to food and medicine are baseless," he said. "Since 1992, the United States has licensed over $1.1 billion in the sales and donations of medicine and medical equipment, 80 percent in the form of donations."

Mr. Garza, a former U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua, described Cuba's human rights record as "abysmal." He ridiculed the Havana government's attempt to characterize itself as a victim.

"The Cuban government is not a victim, as it contends. Rather, it is a tyrant, aggressively punishing anyone who dares to have a differing opinion," he added.

European Union representative Arjan Hamburger of the Netherlands told the assembly E.U. countries strongly condemn Cuba's human rights record. But he said all E.U. members voted for the resolution because the embargo punishes non-U.S. firms for doing business with Cuba.

The U.S. imposed the trade embargo on Cuba in the early 1960s, after Fidel Castro took power in Havana. The General Assembly has adopted measures condemning the sanctions each year since 1992. Assembly resolutions reflect international opinion, but have no legal basis.