Sun, Dec 4, 2016 | updated 01:19 AM IST

Don't get too cheery about U.S. abstention on Cuba embargo vote, says expert

Updated: Oct 27, 2016 17:44 IST
Havana [Cuba], Oct. 27 (ANI): A Cuban political observer has cautioned interested parties not to get too cheerful about the United States breaking away from a 24-year voting streak at the United Nations, by abstaining from a vote against a resolution calling for an end to the trade embargo against Cuba.

Cuban political observer Esteban Morales said that while the vote marks another turning point in U.S.-Cuba relations since the two Cold War enemies announced in December 2014 that they would work to normalise ties, the abstention must also be seen in terms of the economic engagement and benefit to be gained by Washington, reports Xinhua.

"We finally got to a point where the U.S. changed its annual vote," said Morales, underscoring the diplomatic progress made by the two countries.

He, however, warned against a too-cheerful interpretation of the vote, saying it only reflected Washington's new found economic interest in Cuba.

"We can't deceive ourselves. The blockade (embargo) is an obstacle for the White House's new policy toward the island and that's why (U.S. President Barack) Obama has said from the beginning it must be lifted," said Morales.

The Obama administration's vote at the UN, he said, "Is a strong message to the U.S. Congress and to radical sectors that times have changed and a new policy towards Cuba is necessary."

"If they want to reach a deal with Cuba, they must change the ideological and aggressive strategies of the past," Morales added.

Obama has taken steps to ease trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, but only the U.S. Congress can fully lift the embargo.

For the first time ever, no countries voted against the resolution, and 191 countries voted in favor, while the United States and Israel both abstained.

Such resolutions are non-binding, but carry political weight.

The blockade is still in force, but this means there has been a change in Washington's attitude. (ANI)