News / Americas

    Cuba Once More Seeks UN Condemnation of US Embargo

    FILE - An old, U.S.- made car in Havana.
    FILE - An old, U.S.- made car in Havana.
    Reuters
    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, saying 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.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.

    More Americas News

    In Cuba, Racial Inequality Deepens With Tourism Boom

    As capitalism creeps in more than 60 years after revolution that promised social equality, local residents, analysts concerned about gap between haves and have nots

    Video WFP: 3.6 Million Haitians Face Food Insecurity

    Half of Haiti's population works in agriculture; Around 75 percent live on less than $2 per day

    Video Olympics Technology Center Getting Ready for 2016 Games

    This year, the whole system will be cloud-based, enabling millions of fans around the world instant access to relevant information about the competition

    Red Cross Scales Up Community Action to Combat Zika

    ICRCS is mobilizing its large volunteer force in affected communities to help them clear up trash and areas where mosquitoes can breed

    Haiti's Prime Minister Calls for Peace on 1st Day Without President

    Evans Paul urges Haitian protesters to end weeks of sometimes violent street marches and join a dialogue to create a transitional government

    Social Media Erupts in Support of Sikh Man Barred from Flight

    Waris Ahluwalia says he was barred from boarding a flight from Mexico City to New York because he refused to remove his turban