From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject The 2019 UN Vote Against the US Blockade of Cuba: Trump’s Washington Remains Cornered
Date November 13, 2019 1:43 AM
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["The United States government does not have the least moral
authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in the area of ​​human
rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of this issue for
political purposes," Bruno Rodriguez ] [[link removed]]

THE 2019 UN VOTE AGAINST THE US BLOCKADE OF CUBA: TRUMP’S
WASHINGTON REMAINS CORNERED  
[[link removed]]


 

Ike Nahem
November 11, 2019
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_ "The United States government does not have the least moral
authority to criticize Cuba or anyone else in the area of ​​human
rights. We reject the repeated manipulation of this issue for
political purposes," Bruno Rodriguez _

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla speaks at United
Nations General Assembly in New York on November 1, 2018. , Atilgan
Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

 

On November 7, 2019, for the 28th year in a row, the entire United
Nations General Assembly, gathered in one room, voted overwhelmingly
against “the Economic, Commercial, and Financial Embargo Imposed on
Cuba by the United States.” The final tally was 187 in favor, 3
opposed (Brazil, Israel, US), 2 abstentions (Colombia, Ukraine), 1 not
voting (Moldova).

Several points should be noted about these holdouts to the
overwhelming consensus of the world’s constituted governments that
the ultra-powerful nation-state of the United States (population over
300 million) of America should cease and desist its decades-long
shameful, arrogant bullying of socialist Cuba (population less than 12
million). Speaker after speaker, to this observer, barely repressed
their contempt for Washington’s  slanders of Cuba. All fully
understand that Cuba is a classic and model example, among many in
this Hemisphere since the end of the 19th Century, of being on the
receiving end of unrelenting Yankee imperialist aggression, under a
crass cover of flowery bullshit demagogy about “human rights” and
“freedom.” As speaker after speaker declaimed from the General
Assembly rostrum, “28 years is Enough!”

First, let us note that while the crisis-ridden Brazilian government
of Jair Bolsonaro may have added the NO vote of Brazil to those of the
United States and Israel, Bolsonaro is not Brazil. There is not the
slightest doubt that the public opinion of the Brazilian working
class, youth, and population as a whole (likely including the
“professional” diplomatic staff in New York and in the Brazilian
Foreign Ministry), solidly rejects as an abomination the vote dictated
by Bolsonaro and solidarizes with Cuba.

Israel – and the right-wing coalition government of Benjamin
Netanyahu just-hanging-on to power – is of course politically and
militarily dependent on the United States and votes accordingly.
(Netanyahu’s government abstained when the US government under
Barack Obama also did so in 2016.) Interestingly, however, Israel and
Cuba, which have not restored diplomatic relations cut after the 1973
Middle East War, have for many years now, carried out, by all
accounts, normal and even friendly bilateral trade with each other, as
well as extensive people-to-people travel exchanges with no
restrictions.

Finally, while fully 50 separate speakers addressed the 2-day General
Assembly meeting from the rostrum or from their seats –
>>>>> representing their member states directly or speaking for major
constituted blocs recognized by the UN – Israel, Brazil, Colombia,
Ukraine, and the elusive Moldova chose not to speak at all and defend
their “point of view” whatever that might be other than jerking
their knee towards the United States government and the Trump
Administration.

Even regimes installed directly or indirectly by US military force
such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, could not stomach being
identified with Trump’s Washington against Cuba. Again, as for well
over a decade, Washington’s EU and NATO allies voted for the
Resolution presented by Cuba. Both North and South Korea. As did both
North and South Korea and even Iran and US close ally Saudi Arabia.

Why the UN Vote Matters

The annual Resolution does not have any enforcement authority or
mechanisms, is generally ignored or relegated to a back-pages note in
the US capitalist media, and can be even characterized as politically
toothless. Still, from Cuba’s vantage point, the annual Resolution
is an important material and political factor in the defense of
Cuba’s socialist revolution, and registers an objective marker in
the relationship of political forces in the world and is a material
factor in the political limitations on direct US aggression and the
permanent world pressure to crush the blockade in all its forms once
and for all in world public opinion. It can fairly be said that the US
blockade of Cuba is universally hated around the world, including by
many millions in the United States who increasingly know some or much
of the truth about Cuba, including many tens of thousands from
licensed and unlicensed travel to the beautiful island.

Above all, every year it is revolutionary, socialist Cuba that holds
the moral high ground in world politics, worth all the nuclear weapons
in Washington’s arsenal, on this world stage. The revolutionary
diplomats at Cuba’s Mission to the United Nations give great
importance to this annual vote. And every year dozens of Cuba
solidarity activists, mostly from the New York-New Jersey area, take
seats in the 4th Floor Visitors Gallery to respectfully observe the
annual event.

2018 Ruse Not Repeated

Last year in 2018 the United States carried out an elaborate
diversionary ruse to dilute the political impact of the Resolution in
the form of a series of amendments attacking Cuba over this or that
“human rights” nonsense. These fell completely flat as the EU and
every other force voting for the Cuban-sponsored Resolution, refused
to take the bait and Washington’s political isolation and
humiliation was only deepened, as they appeared unprepared and
blindsided.

There was some mystery as to whether Trump’s UN flunkeys would put
themselves through the same wringer again in 2019, but at the end of
the day the US representative, recruited by Donald Trump from giving
commentary on a conservative cable TV news oligopoly, simply took the
floor in turn after the previous 40 speakers had blasted US anti-Cuba
policy, gave a subdued, lame 3-minute litany (“I promise not to
speak too long.”), and promptly sat down. Perhaps the highlight of
her time was a snarky reference to Cuba’s solidarity with the
“former Maduro regime” in Venezuela. A few moments later she was
followed on the rostrum by the present Maduro regime’s Foreign
Minister.

The US approach was simply let’s just get it over with! This points
to the genuine political consternation and isolation that is the
political reality faced by the Trump Administration that is 
accelerating since the debacle of its Venezuela “regime-change”
policy which culminated in the failure of the April 30, 2019
US-directed right-wing military coup. I will return to this decisive
point in assessing the significance of the 2019 UN Cuba vote.

Too Much Pressure

On Day 1, November 6, there were 31 separate presentations. The first
seven from recognized UN blocs: the accredited delegate from Palestine
speaking for “the Group of 77 plus China;” the delegate from
Tunisia for the “African Group;” Azerbaijan’s representative
spoke for the “Non-Aligned Movement,” Grenada’s representative
for the “Caribbean Community;” Singapore’s for the Association
of South East Asian Nations;” and Uganda for the “Organization of
Islamic Cooperation.”

Trump’s envoys were reportedly pressuring nation-states in Latin
America and the Caribbean to side with them against Cuba but,
observing the several hours of discussion, it was clear to me that
Hemispheric states and governments were, if anything, going out of the
way to register in clear and direct language their sharp opposition to
US anti-Cuba policy. Argentina, Costa Rica, and Uruguay rushed to get
their statement of support for the Resolution on the record.

Nearly every individual member of the “Caribbean Community” also
took the rostrum – Grenada; St. Vincent and the Grenadines;
Suriname; Belize; Guyana; St. Kitts and Nevis; Jamaica; Trinidad and
Tobago; Antigua and Barbuda and spoke eloquently and with some passion
and sharpness about their solidarity with Cuba, all citing Cuba’s
internationalist medical, educational, and sports solidarity misiones.
It is very clear that the US blockade of Cuba, in addition to the
moral and political outrage it engenders, has a deleterious economic
impact on Caribbean-wide economic integration and agricultural and
industrial development and exchange for the entire Caribbean.

Sharp Tone, Growing Exasperation

Having attended these discussions and votes, and written about them
several times, I can say that my impression this year was that the
diplomatic language was a little less diplomatic, that the tone was
more than a little sharper from many African and Caribbean states, and
more exasperated from others. Many noted the “regression” from
their hopes and illusions after Barack Obama in his second term led a
retreat of US policy: freed the remaining Cuban Five political
prisoners and heroes; restored Washington-Havana diplomatic relations;
loosened travel restrictions and air travel; and OK’d Cruise Ship
stops.

The tone this year – and I think it was V.I. Lenin who said, “Tone
equals politics” – ranged from “deep concern” to
“unconscionable” and “appalling” as all lined up to
“categorically condemn” the “illegal character” of US policy
which should be “consigned to the trash  heap.” There was less
mincing of mealy-mothed words among the diplomatic gentlemen and
gentleladies. Vietnam’s representative spoke “as a country that
suffered 19 years of US sanctions…we are in solidarity with the
brotherly people of Cuba…we demand the policy be reversed!” The
representative from St. Vincent and the Grenadines spoke of her
country’s “unwavering support and solidarity with the
revolutionary Cuban government; we decry this affront to the
indominable Cuban people.” The Chinese representative like many
speakers listed the recent, escalating measures implemented by Trump
and said, in the end, “bullying will only hurt the bully.” Gabon
spoke sharply of the “nefarious” blockade. Speakers vied over who
could use the most condemning or disdainful phrase to register their
solidarity with Cuba. (And let us not forget this is communist Cuba
led by conscious revolutionary Marxists and Leninists, the political
children of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a generation of
revolutionary women and men who were combatants and fighters for
socialist revolution in the Americas.)

The speaker from Belize spoke of the “unbreakable friendship” with
Cuba and Cuba’s “magnanimous” support in the fields of health
and education “where we have needs and Cuba has strengths.” North
Korea called the blockade a “crime against humanity. South
Africa’s representative demanded “End this Injustice! We demand
that all of it be scrapped!” The Namibian delegate gave a heartfelt
presentation citing Cuba’s “significant contribution to African
liberation and the defeat of apartheid and “winning the independence
of my country.” Speaker after speaker spoke in praise of Cuban and
world revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. (This included a couple of
places where if you praised Fidel or tried to promote his politics
you’d likely end up in the slammer.)

As is the case each year militant statements of solidarity came from
Bolivia, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

Shifts in Hemispheric Politics and the Blockade

While this represents a remarkable continuity and consensus in the
so-called international community, it also registers significant new
developments in the long struggle to, once and for all, eradicate the
US economic and political war against Cuba. The anti-blockade and
anti-US government tone, rhetoric, exasperation, and contempt for the
ongoing US aggression was more pronounced, more bitter, and perhaps
more conducive to action and deeds from past statements for the
record. Events in Latin America and the Caribbean, from Haiti to
Chile, are accelerating and intensifying every burning political issue
and the “Cuba Question” and the US economic and political war and
sanctions has been central and volcanic for decades.

Since the last vote in 2018, and in particular over the last six
months in Latin America and the Caribbean, momentous historic
political developments have shifted the relationship of class and
political forces in the Hemisphere to the detriment of the Donald
Trump White House and the US bourgeoisie it serves (in its own
peculiar style that worries more than a few in the US ruling class)
and in favor of the Cuban revolutionary government and the Hemispheric
working class, including inside the United States, where the class
struggle is notably heating up. (It is said that the number of strikes
in the US today is higher than at any time since the 1980s.)

New Political Dynamics as 2019 Closes

Washington began 2019 with blood in its mouth, full of itself, and
living in its bubble of lies to the point where it believed its own
bullshit. Trump and his minions were apparently convinced that quick
work could and would be made of the sovereign, elected government of
Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela in the midst of the devastating capitalist
economic contraction in that country, greatly multiplied by the
collapse in oil commodity prices, mounting US sanctions; and the
concurrent economic sabotage in cahoots with the Venezuelan
bourgeoisie, which still controls wholesale and retail distribution
networks, and much else in the Venezuelan “mixed economy.”

With Maduro disposed of, to the likes of John Bolton, Elliot Abrams,
and Marco Rubio the path would then be clear: Forward to the
extermination of socialist Cuba!

Alas for Trump and his gang by the time of the humiliating fiasco of
the failed coup that was definitively registered on April 30, 2019, it
was obvious that the Maduro-PSUV government was actually being
considerable strengthened. This is among the many unintended
consequences of the flop of Trump’s anti-Venezuela crusade. These
consequences are now continuing to unfold. As the virulently anti-Cuba
and anti-Venezuela Miami Herald put it in a deliciously demoralized
headline “South America’s wretched month has been great for one
man: Venezuela’s Maduro.” The article goes on to quote a
Venezuelan “businessman and political pundit,” who laments, “I
think people [that is, the Venezuelan capitalists and their allies]
here are resigned. They feel like Maduro has survived. And now the
world is distracted with the protests in Chile, Ecuador, Haiti – so
many other countries.”

From 1992 to 2019: History of the Vote

In 1992, Cuba was reeling from the economic cataclysm of the
“Special Period,” when its economy contracted virtually overnight
by 35% following the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allied
so-called “socialist camp.” Its revolutionary diplomats in New
York City at the United Nations took advantage of an inadvertent lapse
in the attentiveness of US UN personnel – who, in any case were
cooling the champagne in anticipation of socialist Cuba’s imminent
implosion and evaporation under deepening US sanctions and stepped-up
US-based terrorist attacks – to slip onto the General Assembly
agenda the first Resolution “Opposing the Economic, Commercial, and
Financial Embargo Imposed by the United States Against Cuba.”
Precedent established, and unable to be blocked by US veto. Every year
since then for now 28 years now, Washington has been utterly isolated
in this annual vote in the General Assembly.

In the November 2016 UN Vote, the US delegation (with Israel in tow
– actually abstained in the vote against itself, making the vote
formally unanimous. That was in the week before Donald Trump’s
narrow electoral triumph over the hapless Hillary Clinton.

That had capped a process which had unfolded from December 2014 when
the Barack Obama Administration, in the second half of its second
term, began a retreat that partially overturned the bipartisan
ruling-class consensus against Cuba. That consensus had lasted from
the end of the Dwight Eisenhower Administration in 1959-60 through
December 2014. In a dizzying few months Obama, with the public support
of Hillary Clinton (who had been battered on Cuba at successive
Organization of American States “Summits” from 2008-2012)
Secretary of State John Kerry, and Vice-President Joe Biden, released
the remaining Cuban Five heroes, engineered Cuba’s removal from the
State Department’s notorious list of “nations supporting
terrorism,” established formal diplomatic relations with Embassies
in Washington, DC and Havana, and loosened existing travel
restrictions without abolishing them. The overall “embargo”
mandated since the 1996 Helms-Burton Law signed by then-president W.
Clinton remained in place.

Trump has steadily reversed, incrementally and with accumulation, much
of the limited Obama measures without abrogating formal diplomatic
relations or ending all loopholes or even direct flights from US
airports to Cuban cities.(Commercial flights to cities other than
Havana have been canceled but Charter Flight remain possible.) Trump
used the pretext of perturbing reports of “sonic attacks” or some
other mysterious ailments supposedly afflicting US and Canadian
diplomats at the beginning of his term to cut back drastically the
significant people-to-people exchanges that were proving very popular
with US and Cuban citizens, separated families, trade unionists,
creative artists, doctors and scientists, and so on.

Virtual Coup in Venezuela

The situation changed when the disastrous economic crisis in Venezuela
by the end of 2018 led Trump and his team seemed to think the time had
come to choreograph a right-wing military coup in Venezuela with the
hapless Juan Guaido installed as President. This team of
Pence-Pompeo-Bolton and the dusted-off war criminal Elliot Abrams
displayed an uncommon skill combining unsavoriness with incompetence
with Senator Marco Rubio on the ground with “humanitarian” trucks
on the Venezuelan-Colombian border!

For the first 2 months of 2019 they organized a virtual coup that
turned out to be 50% bullshit and 50% fantasy. This was fully backed
by the Democratic Party Capitol Hill leadership and their lackeys in
the capitalist media who went into full Yankee imperialist mode! All
their obsession with and contempt for Donald Trump was cast aside to
join him in the love fest for – let’s hear the drum roll!!! –
Juan Guaido and our bipartisan love for Venezuelan and Latin American
democracy and human rights! Hear, Hear!

Following the late-February 2019 debacle on the Venezuelan-Colombian
and Venezuelan-Brazilian borders, Trump and his gang doubled down and
organized a virtual coup that was supposed to culminate on May Day
with Maduro hopping on the last flight to Jose Marti International
Airport in Havana and Juan Guaido installed in Miraflores. Instead the
mobilized Venezuelan working class dominated the streets on May Day,
Nicolas Maduro’s political position was greatly strengthened in the
working class, in the population, and in the Venezuelan Army with his
stalwart defense of national sovereignty. The army officer corps was
deeply insulted by Trump and Pompeo who though they could throw around
some dirty US money to buy off Venezuelan patriots who Washington had
previously slandered as drug dealers and worse! For Trump – and you
can be sure he was enraged at his minions for the humiliation -- the
virtual coup became a humiliating reality check. What to do?

Trump and Pompeo quickly pivoted to blaming revolutionary Cuba for
their own debacle. (Bolton was also soon sent packing.) Cuba was
accused of having 20,000 soldiers and spooks in country and that was
why Maduro was still in office and not living the life in a Cuban
ocean resort! Cuba actually has 20,000 medical personnel and
educators, and sports trainers in Venezuela.

This, among other things is an egregious insult to the Venezuelan Army
and neighborhood-based organized militias that mobilized continuously
to defend national sovereignty culminating in the defeat of the
virtual coup.

Cuban Doctors in Venezuela

The anti-Cuba measures since then have been coming fast and steady,
US- and world public opinion be damned! Cuban-Major League Baseball
Deal – annulled. Cruse Ship stops in Cuba (very popular with US
citizens, and Cuban small business owners, and a growing source of
foreign exchange for Cuban health care and education) -- cancelled.
“People-to-People” Exchange – eliminated. Then there was the new
Trump first that even the solidly anti-Cuban Administrations of
William Clinton and George W. Bush wouldn’t do. That is, ending the
waiver of Title III of the blockading Helms-Burton Act signed into law
by Clinton in 1996. The way is now open for frivolous lawsuits in US
courts over property legal nationalized by the revolutionary Cuban
government between 1959-1961. At the time, that is over 60 years ago
Washington – which utterly dominated the socially oppressive and
brutally unequal Cuban economy – rejected offers of fair
compensation to affected companies. Companies based in other countries
settled without much difficulty.

Instead the John F. Kennedy Administration was committed to a
CIA-directed mercenary invasion of Cuba in April 1961 and, when that
failed panned a direct US invasion that was only averted with the
settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

We are now seeing the accelerating consequences of Trump and
company’s Venezuelan fiasco in the rapid shift in – to use bloated
academic jargon – the political paradigm in Latin America and the
Caribbean from the uprisings in Haiti and Chile to the return of the
Peronist party in Argentina and even the freeing of Luis Ignacio Lula
da Silva on November 8 in Brazil. It seems certain that the so-called
Lima Group stitched together to prop up Juan Guaido cannot have too
many more days on this planet. This shift takes place amidst ongoing
assaults on the working class under the whip of the International
Monetary Fund and the concentrated summits of world capital.

This then was the background for this year’s vote. [i]

[Ike Nahem is a longtime revolutionary socialist activist and
organizer. He is a founder and organizer for the New York-New Jersey
Cuba Si Coalition and the lead organizar for the 1st and upcoming 2nd
National Conference for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations on
March 20-22 in New York City. Ike has done Cuba solidarity work as his
main political activity for decades. He is a retired Amtrak Locomotive
Engineer and proud member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
and Trainmen, a división of the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters and isa member of Railroad Workers United. His many articles
and essays have been reproduced in Dissident Voice, MRZine,
Counterpunch, Pambazuka News, and other journals and online magazines.
Ike will be giving public classes on the lives of Fidel Castro and
Malcolm X at the People’s Forum in New York City in January and
February 2020. Ike can be reached at

[email protected]]

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