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UN votes to end Cuba embargo
UNITED NATIONS : Nov 9 (South News) - The United Nations has voted overwhelmingly, for the eighth year in a row, for an end to America's 40-year-old economic embargo against Cuba.
Similar resolutions have been adopted by increasing majorities each year since 1992.The vote was 155 to two, with eight abstentions - a record majority and even larger than last year's 152 to two, with 12 abstentions. Like last year, only Israel voted with the US. The 15 members of the European Union along with such allies as Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all voted for the resolution.
Cuba to sue U.S. for $100 billion
Opening the debate ahead of the vote, the president of Cuba's National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, said Cuba planned to sue the US for more than $100bn in compensation for the "enormous damages" caused by the embargo.
"I am officially announcing to this assembly," Alarcon said in a speech Tuesday, "that a lawsuit will be filed against the government of the United States for compensation of over $100 billion on account of the enormous damages caused to the people of Cuba by the blockade." A Havana court last week upheld a $181.1 billion compensation claim by Cuba against the U.S. government for deaths and injuries it said were caused by four decades of hostilities, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
The Assembly resolution is titled ``Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.''
It refers particularly to the 1996 ``Helms-Burton Act'' that allows U.S. citizens who were Cuban citizens before President Fidel Castro's 1959 communist revolution to file suit in U.S. courts against foreign companies or individuals who ``traffic'' in confiscated property. The law allows U.S. visas to be denied to shareholders and officers of foreign companies operating those properties in Cuba.
The U.N. resolution again expresses concern about ``the continued promulgation and application by member states of laws and regulations, such as that ... known as the 'Helms-Burton Act.''' It says their extra-territorial effects ``affect the sovereignty of other states, the legitimate interests of entities or persons under their jurisdiction and the freedom of trade and navigation.'' As in previous years, the resolution calls on all states to refrain from promulgating and applying such laws. It urges those that continue to apply them to ``take the necessary steps to repeal or invalidate them as soon as possible.''
Rejection of the U.S. embargo is expected to be included in a declaration to be issued by 21 leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal at an Ibero-American summit in Havana next week, according to a text now being prepared.
A recent U.N. report on the implementation of last year's resolution calling for repeal of the U.S. embargo included a note from Cuba saying the international community ``cannot remain impassive before such shameless conduct, which violates the most elementary principle of relations between sovereign states.''
``No matter how powerful a country is, it cannot, on the eve of a new millennium, act with impunity to stifle a small country, deny an entire nation access to its most basis means of subsistence and attempt to induce others to become accessories to such a crime, turning back the clock to the age of barbarism,'' Cuba added.
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