United Nations -- The failed policies of
the Fidel Castro’s government, not the United States
trade embargo, are harming the Cuban people, U.S. Ambassador
Ronald Godard told the U.N. General Assembly November 8.
The U.S. trade embargo is a bilateral issue
and has no place in the General Assembly, Godard said. U.S.
and Cuban economic interests "will naturally coincide
and become robust when Cuba is free."
Cuba brings the issue to the General Assembly
each year in an attempt to blame the United States for Cuba's
economic problems, the ambassador said. "As his economic
policies harm the Cuban people, Castro tries to blame the
United States for the failures of the government he leads."
Denying Castro's claim that the embargo
is a blockade, Godard said that "Cuba is free to trade
with any other country in the world without interference
from the United States." The real reason for its trade
problems is Cuba's failure "to pay its bills and billions
of dollars of loans in arrears."
In the General Assembly resolution, sponsored
by Cuba, frequent mention is made of free trade "yet
Castro denies free trade to the Cuban people," Godard
"Castro knows that the United States
supports Cubans who seek the right to independent trade
unions, to open small businesses," he said.
The U.N. Economic Commission on Latin America
(ECLAC) concluded that Cuba must promote small business
opportunities to revive its suffering economy, Godard added.
"But Castro sees even a corner store as a threat to
his power, so he continues to block free market reforms."
The General Assembly held its 14th debate
on "the necessity of ending the economic, commercial
and financial embargo imposed by the United States against
Cuba" November 8. At the end of the daylong session,
the assembly voted 182 to 4 (United States, Israel, Marshall
Islands, Palau) with one abstention to adopt a resolution
urging nations to refrain from applying laws, such as the
Helms-Burton Act, that involve third countries in economic
The 1996 Helms-Burton Act, formally known
as the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD)
Act, continued the United States embargo against Cuba. It
also allows lawsuits in American courts against foreign
companies that invest in businesses once owned by Americans
or by Cubans now living in the United States and authorizes
the banning of executives of such companies from entering
the United States.
The impediment to a vibrant Cuba-U.S. bilateral
relationship "is the dictatorship in Havana,"
Godard also said. "The way forward is through a genuine
transition to political and economic liberty for the Cuban
"The moment the Cuban people are fully
free is when the floodgates of travel and commerce should
open," the ambassador said. "That will be the
moment when the American economy can actually help transform
Cuba's failed and bankrupt economic system and give Cubans
themselves the economic freedom and opportunity long denied
to them by the dictatorship."
to the General Assembly is available on the Web site of
the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
For additional information on U.S. policy,
Washington File United Nations Correspondent