Making a bit of history, the United States on Wednesday abstained for the first time in an annual General Assembly condemnation of the half-century-old American trade embargo against Cuba.
The abstention — a break from the “no” vote the United States delegation has always cast — was another important signal by the Obama administration of its intention to fully repair relations with Cuba, including an end to the embargo.
The reconciliation began two years ago when President Obama abandoned the policy of his predecessors to isolate the Castro government in Cuba and moved to restore diplomatic ties with the island nation of 11 million.
The United States and Cuba formally re-established embassies in each other’s capitals in July 2015, ending more than more than five decades of Cold War-era enmity.
But the embargo, which can only be rescinded by Congress, remains in force.
Yes, the embargo remains in force because it is the law of the land. This is why only Congress can rescind it!
Following the events of 1961–62, economic and diplomatic isolation became the major prongs of U.S. policy toward Cuba.
This continued even after the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Washington strengthened the embargo with the 1992 Cuba Democracy Act and 1996 Helms-Burton Act (PDF), which state that the embargo may not be lifted until Cuba holds free and fair elections and transitions to a democratic government that excludes the Castros. (Raúl has said he will leave office in 2018.)
To be fair, honest people can disagree about the embargo. I’ve had disagreements with other Cubans or Cuban Americans. The disagreements are not generational. In other words, some Cubans of my parents generation believe that the embargo should end and some Cuban Americans like me believe it should stay.
The bottom line is that the Obama administration is mocking U.S. law and the Congress in front of the world.
Why doesn’t President Obama call on Congress to end the embargo? At the same time, why didn’t he demand reforms from Cuba, or the prerequisites required by law to end the embargo? Most of all, why didn’t he call on the Cuban government to settle the claims of U.S. citizens for property stolen years ago?
As a U.S. citizen, I find this astonishing. I find it remarkable that the U.S. government would pander to governments at the UN over Cuba.
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