The United Nations voted overwhelmingly to condemn America’s economic embargo on Cuba on Thursday while rejecting proposed amendments strongly criticizing the country’s dire human rights record.
Cuba is currently a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Only the U.S. and Israel voted against the Cuban-sponsored resolution, which sought to condemn the U.S.’s trade embargo on the island in place since the rise of Fidel Castro in 1960. Out of the 193-member body, the final result was 189-2 with no abstentions, as Moldova and Ukraine were unable to vote.
The U.S. had tabled eight amendments, all of which were rejected, that criticized the communist regime’s flagrant human rights violations including everything from political repression to a total lack of democracy and freedom of expression.
Following the vote, outgoing U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley denounced the exercise as a “waste of time,” adding that the U.N. had “lost the opportunity to speak on behalf of human rights” and that the Cuban people “been left, once again, to the brutal winds of the Castro dictatorship.”
“Our reason for the embargo is and has always been Cuba’s denial of freedom and the denial of the most basic human rights for the Cuban people,” she said. “There are no winners here today, there are only losers. The U.N. Charter commits every country here to the promotion of peace, security and human rights and that charter was betrayed today.”
“They have been abandoned by the United Nations and most of the world’s governments, but the Cuban people are not alone today,” she continued. “The American people will stand with them until they are restored the rights that God has given us all, rights that no government can legitimately deny its people. We have no problem standing alone on behalf of the things we believe in, and we will proudly do so again today if necessary.”
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla claimed that the continued embargo was a violation of Cuban people’s rights.
“The embargo is a flagrant massive and systematic violation of human rights of Cuban men and women,” Parrilla told the General Assembly. “It has been, and still is, the main obstacle to the well-being and prosperity of several generations.”
Although largely symbolic, the vote underlines the Trump administration’s commitment to isolating the communist regime in the face of an international community unwilling to hold the regime accountable for its crimes and abuses.
Since coming to office, Trump has reversed Barack Obama’s policy of “Cuban Thaw,” which aimed to liberalize trade ties and restore diplomatic relations between the two countries. In 2016, the Obama administration abstained from the vote for the first time in U.S. history, although the embargo was never fully lifted.
On Thursday, Trump’s National Security adviser John Bolton announced new sanctions on regimes in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, declaring that the U.S. would “not reward torturers, murderers, and abusers.”