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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The United States abstained from voting on a U.N. resolution condemning the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
Their decision to abstain is a first for the U.S. in more than 25 years.
The move means the Obama administration along with the United Nations are now pitted against the Republican-led Congress that wants to keep in place the 55-year-old embargo against the Caribbean island nation.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power’s announcement Wednesday ahead of the vote was greeted with applause. Power said they abstained because of President Barack Obama’s new approach with Cuba. However, she made it clear the U.S. “categorically” rejects statements that the embargo violated international law.
President Obama has been pushing for the blockade to be lifted citing it has not worked.
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parilla showed appreciation for the vote.
“The vote to abstain means a positive path in the future of bettering relations between the U.S. and Cuba,” said Rodriguez Parilla.
He also shared his criticism of the embargo which is still in effect amid renewed relations with the U.S.
“It’s been two years since the President Barack Obama said he would work with Congress with the objective of lifting the embargo against Cuba,” said Rodriguez Parilla during Wednesday’s General Assembly meeting.
The Cuban government has demanded the embargo be lifted if they are to have fully normalized relations with the United States.
“The economic blockade still persists, provokes damage to the community and prevents our economy from developing,” said Rodriguez Parilla.
Despite the move, Rodriguez Parilla said more needs to be done to lift the embargo, not just discuss it.
“The lift of the blockade is key in normalizing relations…..the change of vote is a signal of a positive path. We hope it becomes a reality,” said Rodriguez Parilla.
Wednesday’s vote ended with 191 nations in favor of U.N. resolution A/71/91 to end the embargo against Cuba. The United States and Israel were the only two members to abstain.
Click here to read more about U.S.- Cuba Relations.