NEW YORK — Cuba has accused the United States of mounting a campaign of "intimidation, threats and pressure" against the international community to prevent a United Nations vote on Washington's economic blockade against it.
In August, Cuba requested the inclusion of an item for the consideration of the 46th General Assembly titled, "The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba".
Addressing the UN General Assembly on November 13, Cuban ambassador Ricardo Alarcón de Queseda announced the withdrawal of the resolution, which held that the US embargo violates the UN charter and international laws. Calling for an end to the illegal embargo against Cuba, the draft resolution reaffirmed the right of every country to choose its commercial and financial partners without constraints or interference.
"In its efforts to hinder the international community and prevent it from taking the necessary action, the US has launched a frantic campaign of intimidation, threats and pressure", Alarcón said.
"Under the circumstances, the assembly would find it very difficult to exercise its international solidarity", the Cuban envoy said. The US campaign had members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Latin American countries uneasy.
Delegates from NAM countries earlier described the Cuban step as awkward and tricky to deal with at a time when no nation wants to confront the United States.
On November 6, the representatives of these countries met with Alarcón and asked for a postponement of the debate, already delayed from its scheduled hearing earlier that week. They said the resolution would create confrontation at a time when the western hemisphere was poised to increase cooperation and dialogue.
Cuba accused the United States of "blackmailing" Latin American governments into ensuring Cuba's regional isolation when the resolution comes up for voting. The Cubans produced a communiqué which they said had been sent from Washington to regional capitals which stated: "We urge you to instruct your ambassador in Havana and/or your UN permanent representative to approach the Cubans in an effort to have the resolution withdrawn.
"The Cubans should understand that their insistence that you support them threatens your good relations with the US and could damage their bilateral relations with your government", the message added.
"We understand your interest in regional solidarity and your hope that by cooperating with Cuba you can help steer the Castro government towards democracy. If Cuba were sincere, however, about improving relations with its neighbors it would not put its friends in the awkward position of squaring off against the US in an international forum", it continued.
"President George Bush said last May that if Cuba held free and ternational supervision, respected human rights and ended support for insurgencies, relations with the United States could improve significantly", it lectured.
In a statement after Cuba withdrew its resolution, the US mission to the United Nations said: "It is noteworthy that Cuban efforts to generate support for their draft on this subject were unsuccessful". The statement repeated the US position that the Cuban resolution constituted interference in its internal affairs.
But in a combative speech, Alarcón said the US argument had nothing to do with legal interpretations or semantics. The Cuban envoy quoted from the official US document which, he pointed out, many in the assembly were acquainted with.
Alarcón charged that "in more than one case the threatening language has been compounded by suspension of credits, interruptions of bilateral projects and other measures of pressures and reprisals".
Washington's pressure on Latin America was compounded by US government-controlled radio transmissions from Miami on November 12 which called on the rest of the region to "choose between Cuba and the United States".
Cuban officials say such pressure is designed to sabotage the gradual rapprochement between Cuba and Latin America, which began at the Latin American summit in Guadalajara in July and which was enhanced at the group of three (Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela) meeting on the Mexican island of Cozumel.
Havana has asked that the issue of the US embargo be included in the next UN session's agenda.
Alarcón said Cuba is also airing its protest against US sanctions in other international fora. He said the Cuban government is doing this not to annoy its Latin American neighbours, but to show the world Washington's irksome anti-Cuban policy.
The United States prohibits the importation of machinery or technology which contains any Cuban component or raw material. Some US legislators want to extend the economic embargo to US subsidiaries in other countries and penalise ships that dock in Cuban ports. US officials are also lobbying to prevent the import of products using new scientific processes discovered or developed in Cuba.
Cubans have suffered greatly from the country's harsh economic crisis, which officials blame on the US sanctions and dwindling Soviet trade. But Washington has made it clear that it will not change its policy toward Cuba and that any intervention from other governments will be considered "meddling in our internal affairs", US officials said.
Havana-based Latin American diplomats said they understand Cuba's situation, but they cannot afford to cross the United States.
[From Inter Press Service/Pegasus.]