On June 23, almost every country on Earth voted to demand an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly session. They condemned the choke-hold the U.S. government has had on the Cuban economy and people since the 1960s. Of the 189 countries present, only two — the United States and its apartheid client state Israel — voted to support the blockade. Three countries abstained and the entirety of the other 184 countries voted in favor of condemning the blockade.
Many countries’ representatives spoke in defense of the Cuban people’s right to live free of imperial cruelty, including Mexico, Namibia, Russia, China, South Africa, Vietnam and Venezuela. Venezuela is also targeted by a ferocious U.S. blockade. This vote is in keeping with the almost 30-year trend of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly passing resolutions against the inhumane and unlawful besieging of Cuba by the United States. It sends a clear message that the entire world recognizes Cuba’s right to be part of the global economy as a sovereign nation.
As Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez made clear in his official report, the impact the blockade has on the Cuban people cannot be understated. This appalling and brutal policy not only impacts U.S.-Cuba interactions, but it also penalizes other countries for engaging with Cuba. This includes banning ships that have docked in Cuban harbors from entering U.S. harbors, allowing U.S. entities to sue anyone who does business with Cuban enterprises that were previously U.S.-owned, and allowing the United States to fine European banks for accepting transactions from Cuba, resulting in fines of billions of dollars.
These policies make it immensely difficult for Cuba to economically interact with the rest of the world. This has real, tangible impacts on the lives of the Cuban people. Being able to engage in trade is a deciding factor in access to food, medicine, technology, educational resources and foreign currency. In these areas and more, the U.S. blockade severely limits what resources the Cuban government and people are able to obtain. The blockade has cost the Cuban economy over a trillion dollars in losses — a trillion dollars that could have been spent funding their programs for free healthcare, housing, and education, global medical aid and more.
For people inside the United States, international solidarity can play a decisive role in defeating the blockade. Recent initiatives include the car caravans and rallies on May 30 organized by a wide range of groups in solidarity with Cuba, including the ANSWER Coalition and the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee.
Another important initiative is the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee’s Syringes for Cuba campaign. This campaign seeks to counteract some of the effects of the blockade on essential medical supplies and help get syringes into the hands of Cuban medical professionals so they are able to vaccinate their people against COVID-19.
The United Nations vote brought to the forefront the cruelty of the U.S. blockade on Cuba. The world will continue to stand and struggle in solidarity with the Cuban people until the blockade is ended.