DE RUCNDT #0997/01 3052257
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 312257Z OCT 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5232
INFO RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 0420
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0273
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000997
DEPARTMENT FOR P, IO, EB, WHA/CCA, NEA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL AORC ECON CU
SUBJECT: UNGA: UN PASSES 17TH ANNUAL RESOLUTION AGAINST THE
REF: STATE 115034
1. Summary: In plenary session on October 29, the UN
General Assembly (UNGA) passed its 17th annual resolution
condemning the United States embargo on Cuba with near
unanimity, slightly more one-sided than last year. The usual
diatribes were accompanied by more measured language from the
EU and Norway. The final score was 185-3-2, with two
absences. The President of the General Assembly (PGA) broke
new ground in condemning the United States and hinted at his
views of UN reform. End Summary.
2. After PGA Miguel Brockmann d'Escoto introduced the
Secretary-General's report (A/63/93), he opened debate on the
Resolution on the Necessity of Ending the Economic,
Commercial and Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States
of America Against Cuba (A/63/L.4).
3. The PGA closed the list after 30 speakers signed up, from
Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the G77), Egypt (for the
Non-Aligned Movement), Guyana (for CARICOM), Venezuela,
Mexico, Vietnam, Sudan, South Africa, China, Algeria, Iran,
India, Russia, Angola, Zambia, the United States, Nicaragua,
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Cuba, France (for
the EU), Brazil, Laos, Indonesia, Burma, Belarus, Ecuador,
Syria, Norway and Uganda.
4. Three hours and five minutes of debate yielded 22
accusations of violating international law, 23 criticisms of
unilateralism, and 29 uses of the word "extraterritorial."
French and Norwegian delegates were the only Member States to
hedge, admitting this is "primarily a bilateral matter
between the United States and Cuba" but nevertheless calling
for an end to the embargo. South African PermRep Dumisani
Kumalo closed his remarks with "Viva Commandante Fidel."
5. Russia, China and Vietnam supported the "rights of
nations" to choose their own political systems without
"interference." Venezuela, Vietnam, China and India all
dwelled on hardships endured by the Cuban people, especially
women and children, allegedly due to the embargo. Mexico
said that any sanctions should be based on UN decisions.
With Egyptian PermRep Maged Abdelaziz as spokesman, the
Non-Aligned Movement took the rhetoric one step further,
calling for USG compensation to Cuba. Syria used the
occasion to criticize the United States for, most recently,
"flagrant aggression against Syria."
6. Less stridently, French Deputy PermRep Jean-Pierre
Lacroix claimed the embargo hampers Cuba's development. He
urged the United States to implement the May 18, 1998 London
Understanding covering waivers for Titles III and IV of the
Helms-Burton Act. Lacroix noted that the human rights
situation in Cuba has not fundamentally changed, that the
Government of Cuba (GoC) continues to deny freedoms to its
citizens, and Cuba's achievements are undermined by its
restrictions on human rights. Lacroix called for freedom of
expression and information as well as the unconditional
release all political prisoners.
7. Cuban FM Felipe Perez Roque recounted suffering in Cuba,
and departing from his prepared text, worried about the
health of his children in light of the embargo. Addressing
the United States, Perez lectured, "Your Secretary of State
doesn't come to this debate because she has nothing to say.
You use lies, we use the truth. You threaten, we never
threaten...You gentlemen should feel ashamed, you are
alone...the embargo is a genocidal and illegal policy."
8. Received with whooping and widespread loud applause, the
final count was 185 votes for resolution 63/7, three opposing
(United States, Israel and Palau), two abstentions (the
Marshall Islands and Micronesia), and two absences (Iraq and
El Salvador). Since the previous year's resolution 62/3 had
184 votes, four opposing votes, one abstention, and three
absences, the United States slipped one notch in each voting
category. The Marshall Islands changed last year's vote to
an abstention, and Albania, an absentee last year, voted for
10. PGA d'Escoto closed the meeting commenting on the
"illegal criminal embargo" against his "sister country" and
USG "unwholesome stubbornness," and praise for "Fidel, a hero
of international solidarity." The PGA remarked that the
United States "has been rightfully repudiated and
condemned...We will do all we can to insure the overwhelming
opinion here is no longer flouted."
11. USDel delivered reftel remarks, available in full at the
Mission's web site, www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov.