The Biden administration on Wednesday continued the US tradition of voting against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an end to the decades-old trade embargo on Cuba. The vote is another sign that President Biden has no intention of taking steps towards normalization with Cuba.
Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has held an annual vote calling for the embargo to be lifted. For the first 24 years, the US voted against it, and in 2016, the Obama administration abstained from voting. After that, the Trump administration voted against the measure.
The resolution has wide support and has passed each time, but the US refuses to lift the embargo. On Wednesday, the US and Israel were the only countries that voted against it. Somehow, after over 50 years and no change in Cuba’s government, the US claims the embargo and sanctions in general are “tools for democracy.”
Rodney Hunter, the policy coordinator for the US mission to the UN, said sanctions are “one set of tools in Washington’s broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise fundamental freedoms.”
The trade embargo on Cuba is probably the best example of how sanctions don’t work to achieve Washington’s stated foreign policy goals and instead inflict more suffering on civilians in the target country. In countries that have been put under heavy US sanctions more recently, such as Venezuela and Iran, the people are suffering, and the governments have stayed the same.
The Obama administration took steps to normalize with Cuba, but since the embargo wasn’t fully lifted, President Trump was able to reverse these steps. On the campaign trail, President Biden said he would return to the Obama-era Cuba policy. But so far, Biden has done nothing to that end. The White House has said changing Cuba policy is not a “priority” of the president.