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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Amid renewed relations between Cuba and the United States, the United Nations has voted on a controversial topic between the two.
On Tuesday, the assembly voted in favor to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. They voted on a resolution condemning it 191 to 2. The United States and Israel both voted against it.
In a statement the United States said it could not support the resolution because it failed to take into account the “significant steps in the spirit of engagement” they had taken. They also said they were disappointed Cuba had chosen to present a resolution “identical” to those in the past years.
In response, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, said, “What is missing is not a spirit of agreement but facts that allow the execution of the blockade.”
He continued, “The position expressed in Cuba’s speech this morning reflects our solid goal to move towards improvement of relations with the U.S.”
Rodríguez Parrilla also said the conditions exist to improve relations between the two nations but those conditions would not exist as long as the embargo does.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen released a statement following the vote saying, “The United States voted against the Cuban resolution while, once again, the United Nations General Assembly falls in line to support the brutal Castro dictatorship while ignoring the plight of the people of Cuba. Instead of voting against US efforts to sanction oppressors, the international community should be condemning the communist regime and calling for changes to the dictatorship that has not allowed free and fair elections or the exercise of basic human rights since its illegal power grab.”
This vote is considered strictly symbolic and is not expected to change anything in each country’s policy on the matter. It’s something they have done for the last 20 years, but unlike in the past, both nations are in diplomatic talks.
President Barack Obama has called for an end to the embargo and so have Cuban foreign officials but the main decision is left to Congress. The embargo can only be repealed by them.
The vote comes after President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro met last month to talk about relations between the two nations.
“They agreed they need to work on the agenda that both countries will be discussing in the next few months towards the normalization of relations,” said Parrilla who gave a summary of the meeting last month.
The Cuban foreign leader emphasized the weight the embargo would have on relations between the two nations.
“The Cuban president reiterated for Cuba and the United States to be able to have normalized relations, the blockade or embargo that has caused damages and hardships to the Cuban people and affects the interests of American citizens must be lifted and the territory occupied by the US naval base in Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba,” said Rodríguez Parrilla on September 29th.
Click here to read more about U.S.- Cuba Relations.