60 years on, the world remains united in its opposition to the US blockade of Cuba


“The United Nations General Assembly met on the 3rd November 2022 and, for the 30th straight year, voted to condemn the blockade and voted in support of Cuba’s resolution calling for its end.”

By Tariq Anderson, Cuba Solidarity Campaign

After decades of economic war waged against Cuba, the world remains as united as ever in its opposition and condemnation of the US-imposed blockade.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) met on the 3rd November 2022 and, for the 30th straight year, voted to condemn the blockade and voted in support of Cuba’s resolution calling for its end. 189 member states took part in the vote, with an overwhelming 185 states voting in favour, 2 abstaining (Brazil and Ukraine) and just 2 voting against (Israel and the United States).

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the illegal and inhumane blockade, first introduced by President John F. Kennedy in February 1962 with the signing of ‘Proclamation 3447 – Embargo on All Trade with Cuba’. The blockade represents the longest and most comprehensive set of sanctions in modern history and, as a memorandum written by the then US Assistant Secretary of State in 1960 made clear, US policy towards the island was intended to “weaken the economic life of Cuba… to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

At the UNGA, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, noted that more than 80 per cent of the Cuban population had been born under the blockade and set out the enormous economic, political and social impact that the blockade has had. During the first 14 months of Joe Biden’s term in office, the economic damage cause by the blockade amounted to $6.36 billion and the cumulative economic damage that had been inflicted on the island over the past 60 years amounts to an extraordinary $154.22 billion (at current prices).

The economic difficulties that Cuba faces continue to have a significant impact on the lives of the Cuban people – from shortages of basic food items and medicines, planned power cuts and delays to public transport. Despite promises made during his presidential campaign, the Biden administration has left the blockade in place and recent announcements to reverse some of Donald Trump’s policies are yet to be implemented.

Speaker after speaker addressed the UNGA to condemn the blockade and other sanctions placed on Cuba, including the US’s designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism. Nicaragua’s delegate expressed their solidarity with Cuba, noting that its revolutionary spirit and socialist conviction had enabled it to stand alongside the developed nations of the world during the pandemic, producing its own vaccines and helping “our developing peoples”. Nerys Dockery, Saint Kitts and Nevis’s representative to the UN, said that she owes her ability to deliver her speech to Cuba, as only five months prior the sight in her right eye was saved by a Cuban optician. She asked:

“What justifies Cuba, a small Caribbean nation, which has such a disproportionately positive impact on the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose internationalism and humanitarianism has saved, impacted and empowered so many human lives…what justifies it continuing to be burdened and limited by an outdated embargo?”

Member states also questioned how the nations of the world could continuously and overwhelmingly call for an end to the blockade over a 30-year period and yet see no results. “Every year, we speak about the devastating impact of the embargo on the people of Cuba, but we see no effort to remove the restrictions,” Zimbabwe’s delegate said.

Closing his speech to the UNGA, requesting a vote in favour of Cuba’s draft resolution, Foreign Minister Rodríguez appealed to the nations of the world:

“I do it in the name of the brave, noble and worthy people of Cuba, who despite adversity have not been and will not be defeated; on behalf of our girls, boys and young people, who oppose hateful policies, but suffer their cruel effects; on behalf of the generations of Cuban men and women who have been born and those who will be born under the most cruel and prolonged system of coercive measures that has ever been applied against any country and that must be abolished for the good of all.”

  • Tariq Anderson, is the Trade Union and Campaigns Officer of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC), you can follow CSC on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
  • You can sign Cuba Solidarity Campaign’s open letter to Joe Biden, calling for an end to the blockade, here.
  • Join the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Jeremy Corbyn MP and guests from across Latin America and the Caribbean at Latin America Conference 2023 on Saturday January 28 in London. Book your place here.
Featured Image: Plaza de la Revolución, Havana. Photo credit: Martin Abegglen/WikiCommons. Attributed under ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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