Cuba wins again at U.N.

By Julie Fry


Cuba solidarity activists were invited to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations on Oct. 29 to hear from Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, who was in New York to attend the annual vote on a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

This is the 18th year in a row that the General Assembly has passed such a resolution. The U.S. has become increasingly isolated over the years in its position on Cuba. The vote this year was 187 to 3 in support of the resolution, with only Israel and the tiny island nation of Palau voting with the U.S. Two more countries joined with Cuba since last year’s vote of 185 to 3 against the blockade.

One after another, world leaders rose to speak in the General Assembly about the cruelty and illegality of the blockade against Cuba. Foreign Minister Rodríguez called the blockade “an uncultured act of arrogance” and “an act of genocide” against the Cuban people. He spoke about the humanitarian toll caused by the blockade during the decades since it was imposed.

The enormous support Cuba received in the U.N. is surely an indication of the friendship and respect that the people of the world feel for socialist Cuba, which has provided decades of international solidarity and humanitarian assistance to countries everywhere. The fact that Cuba, a small and poor nation, has provided so much material aid in the form of doctors and other assistance to the world’s poor only highlights the cruelty of the U.S. blockade in the eyes of the majority of the world. The U.S. failed to convince even its closest allies in Europe and Latin America that the blockade is legal or just.

The importance of this international solidarity was also highlighted at the meeting on Oct. 29, where Foreign Minister Rodríguez stressed the importance of continuing the fight for the freedom of the Cuban Five, who were arrested in the U.S. for their efforts to stop terrorism against Cuba. Leonard Weinglass, one of the attorneys for the Five, gave an update about the current legal posture of their cases. Three of the Five’s sentences were vacated by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Antonio Guerrero, one of the Five who was originally sentenced to life in prison, was resentenced in October to 21 years and 8 months by the original trial judge.

Weinglass reported that the U.S. attorney handling Guerrero’s case contacted him before the sentencing hearing in October to offer a lesser sentence of 20 years for Guerrero. At the sentencing hearing, the U.S. attorney publicly admitted that this was due, in part, to the international attention the case has received. This statement is the first time the U.S. government has acknowledged that the international solidarity movement to free the Cuban Five is affecting its strategy with the case.

Despite this, the judge, presiding in a Miami courtroom filled with anti-Cuba activists, rejected the government’s offer and imposed a higher sentence.

Weinglass and Foreign Minister Rodríguez encouraged the audience to redouble their efforts to free the Cuban Five and spread the word about this case. Fernando González and Ramón Labañino are scheduled to be resentenced on Dec. 9. The attorneys for the Five are continuing their efforts to appeal the conviction of Gerardo Hernández, who was sentenced to two life terms.

Minister Rodríguez thanked the solidarity activists for their support and resolve to continue the fight for the Five until they are all free.


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