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UN Calls US Embargo of Cuba a Violation of Humanitarian Law - 2002-04-04


A United Nations special investigator calls the United States' economic embargo of Cuba a violation of international humanitarian law. In a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the investigator says the embargo has had a disastrous economic effect on Cuba.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Kevin Moley, was angered by the U.N. Investigatorąs assertions. He told the U.N. Human Rights Commission that the U.S. embargo is not responsible for what he said were Cubaąs poor economic policies. He said that in almost all agricultural areas, Cuba produces less now than it did 40 years ago when the United States imposed economic sanctions.

"For example, Cuba is the only Latin American country that produces less rice today than in 1957," Ambassador Moley said. "The Cuban governmentąs failure to feed its own people is not a result of the U.S. embargo. It is a result of Cubaąs failed economic system."

The U.N. Investigator, Jean Ziegler, later said he stood by his assertion that the U.S. blockade of Cuba is a "clear violation" of the right to food and of international humanitarian law. He agreed with the U.S. ambassador, who said there was no malnutrition in Cuba.

"The American ambassador is right. It is true," he said. "There is not malnutrition in Cuba on a large scale, because the Cuban regime took the measures to fight malnutrition of the children, and so on and so on. But, they were gravely harmed, gravely harmed over 37 years now, by the fact of the blocus (blockade). So, the Cuban economy could not develop in a normal way, and there are all the sufferings consecutively of this non-development of the Cuban economy because of the blocus [blockade]."

Earlier this year, the United States authorized the limited sale of food and medicine to Cuba for humanitarian needs.

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