US seeking support for amendments to annual UN embargo resolution

In a move condemned by Cuba’s government, the Trump administration has introduced into the UN a series of amendments to the draft resolution that Cuba submits annually calling on member states to condemn the US embargo.

Speaking in Havana, Cuba’s President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, denounced the US amendments as a political manoeuvre aimed at weakening international support for the island.

The proposed amendments to the Cuban text were circulated by the US during the week of 22 October and will be considered on 31 October.

In recent years, UN support has been almost unanimous for Cuba with even the US and Israel abstaining during the Obama administration.

The proposed US amendments break new ground by seeking to build on language in resolutions that have been agreed by the UN in 2015 in relation to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or which the US is proposing separately in relation to a third country – widely believed to be Venezuela – for which it has growing international support.

US amendment 1 on the embargo calls on Cuba to grant its citizens internationally recognised civil, political and economic rights and freedoms; amendment 2  suggests that the ‘lack of access to information and freedom of expression’, ‘the absence of judicial independence’, and ‘arbitrary arrest’ are undermining collective efforts to implement Goal 16 of the UN’s globally agreed  2030 SDGs;  amendment 3 expresses concern that the absence of women in Cuba’s most powerful decision-making bodies undermines collective efforts to implement Goal 5 of SDG’s relating to gender equality; amendment 4 expresses concern that  the status of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) and ‘the prohibition of the right to strike and restrictions on collective bargaining’ undermine Goal 8 of the SDGs; amendment 5 urges Cuba to create and maintain an independent, diverse and pluralistic civil society; amendment 6 urges Cuba to end its control of the internet and other networks; amendment 7 seeks the release of ‘arbitrarily detained’ persons; and amendment 8  urges greater accountability.

Responding at a press conference during which he delivered a lengthy statement on the issue, Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs attacked the new US approach, and its attempt to invoke the SDG’s, the US’s poor human rights record, and the use of language yet to be agreed relating to an unnamed third country.

During a short media question and answer session, Rodríguez told a journalist who asked how Cuba might respond, said: “What I can say is that we regret that the Government of the United States is advancing on a course of confrontation with Cuba, before making clear that Cuba will respond as circumstances demand.