UNITED NATIONS--Cuba yesterday withdrew its resolution seeking an end to the U.S. economic embargo against the island nation. Havana's ambassador angrily accused the United States of intimidating the measure's wouldbe supporters.
"Washington not only has the intention of persisting in an illegal and criminal blockade of Cuba, but also of blocking a discussion by the General Assembly," Cuban Ambassador Ricardo Alarcon told the 166-nation assembly.
Alarcon was the only speaker. Others who had planned to speak, including Iraq, Libya, Vietnam and Afghanistan, withdrew when the resolution was withdrawn. Most Latin nations had indicated they would abstain and some indicated they would vote no.
Alarcon accused the U.S. government of "a campaign of intimidation, threats and pressure" directed at Latin American and other nations which were considering voting with Cuba against the 30-year-old embargo.
Many nations, including U.S. friends and allies, oppose the embargo, but did not want to risk antagonizing the United States--which made clear a vote with Cuba could harm ties with the United States.
Alarcon delivered a long speech in Spanish, but used English in quoting from State Department guidelines to diplomats for the intensive U.S. lobbying against the Cuban resolution.
Alarcon referred to the guidelines as "crude." He quoted one portion as saying: "The Cubans should understand that their insistence that you support them threatens your good relationship with the U.S. and could damage their bilateral relations with your government."
In a written response to Alarcon's claims, the U.S. mission said Cuba was misrepresenting the nature of the embargo.
"The United States chooses not to trade with Cuba for good reasons," it said, noting that Cuba expropriated millions of dollars in private property belonging to Americans.
It also said the Cuban government has supported efforts to subvert democratic governments in Latin America and "has trained terrorists from the world over."
The U.S. statement also said Cuba oppresses its people and refuses to cooperate with the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
Cuba estimates that the economic, commercial and financial embargo has cost it at least $15 billion
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