Historic US double defeat in UN

* 183 AGAINST 1
* Cuba defeats US manoeuvre that sought to use Australia as a pawn
* Other defeats for Bush

HAVANA (10 November 2006) - THE DOUBLE DEFEAT of United States by Cuba in the UN represented another strong rejection of the international community to the blockade and of Washington's dark maneuvers represented by Australia.

For the 15th consecutive year and a record of 183 votes for, the General Assembly ratified its demand of ending the economic, trade and financial siege to the Caribbean island, maintaining the White House traditional isolation in that issue. This time, only four countries voted against the resolution: the United States, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. The latter two have been protectorates of the United States for the last 60 years -- their foreign affairs and budgets are controlled by Washington as is to all intents and purposes Israel's. Absent from the vote were Nicaragua, the Ivory Coast, El Salvador and Iraq. The rest of the world voted against the blockade.

In analyzing the vote, foreign minister Felipe Pérez Roque noted that Montenegro and Marruecos were two new countries to vote with Cuba. He said that one African country, Ivory Coast, was absent instead of voting with the island because of US threats to veto the continuing presence of UN peacekeeping troops in that country, which would open the door to further conflict.

In statements to the prime time TV and radio program The Round Table on Thursday, Pérez Roque, said the overwhelming vote is a clear expression of the island's recognition and prestige throughout the world, its internationalism, moral authority, solidarity and medical and education cooperation with other nations.

According to statements by Pérez Roque, Cuba's firm position frustrated Australia's last-minute White House ordered attempt to modify the motion.

By analyzing what had happened, "we must highlight that the US government, instead of paying attention to the international demand of ending the longest blockade of history, aimed to neutralize the UN failure," said Pérez Roque.

He denounced the Bush administration's pressures on UN member nations to stop them from supporting Cuba's annual resolution. He noted that on October 19th, there was information on Bush's attempts to find an ally that would present the amendment to the resolution. Pérez Roque stressed that European nations did not want to fall into the U.S. tactic, which would only discredit them. He said the Australian Foreign Affairs Ministry received a last-minute call from top-level US government officials to play the role of straw man, which lent itself to serve as their accomplice in presenting the amendment a few short minutes before the UNGA vote on alleged violations of human rights in the Caribbean nation. Despite servile Australia having bowed to Washington's pressures, it too had to express its condemnation of the blockade.

The attempt was frustrated by Cuba when Ambassador Rodrigo Malmierca requested a motion of "No Action" before voting in favour of the main resolution. The Cuban motion received the support of 126 states - over two thirds of those present in the General Assembly - while 51 voted against it, and five nations abstained. 115 of the 126 countries that voted against the US's anti-Cuba amendment presented by Australia are members of the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned Movement. With that vote, the U.S. ploy was foiled.

"The Australian government is a sort of pocket imperialism, always ready in the Pacific Ocean to follow its Washington mentors," the Cuban minister had told a Prensa Latina correspondent in Washington earlier on Wednesday. Perez Roque remarked that the Australian government has no moral ground to criticize Cuba while it submits its own indigenous population to a truly apartheid regime and supports the torture center kept by the US in the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo in Cuba.

The Cuban foreign minister said that the objective of the failed motion was to stop the approval of the island's resolution on the need to end the economic, financial and commercial blockade against the Caribbean island.

To maintain the blockade even with a modification attempt were the double defeats of a government that does not seem to learn from its almost 50 years of failure to destroy the Cuban Revolution.

Cuba's top diplomat praised the quality of the vote and speeches in defense of the island made by representatives of China, Russia and South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 as well as the Caribbean Community, in addition to the majority of the members of the Non-Aligned Movement and almost all nations of the Third World.

The Prensa Latina correspondent in New York spoke with several delegates who voted in support of the "No Action" motion of Cuba. Anthony B. Severin, from St. Lucia, spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community; Mexico also opposed the change and dubbed it a dangerous attempt, since the Australian proposal tried to justify the very existence of the blockade. The South African representative, Sivo Maqungo, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 (actually made up of 134 nations), rebuffed the Australian amendment and ratified those nations' support for the Cuban resolution, as did Russia and China.

Pérez Roque said there was an explosion of spontaneous applause when the final 183-4 vote flashed on the tabulation screen. While the Cuban delegation was congratulated by representatives of many countries, the US representatives were all alone and finally scurried out of the hall, he noted.

Pérez Roque added: "The United States can ignore the UN vote, but it cannot ignore the support for Cuba because the truth of the Revolution is being spread far and wide, despite Washington's well-financed campaigns against the island."

Other defeats for Bush

At the end of the Round Table program, Pérez Roque said Daniel Ortega's victory last Sunday in Nicaragua took place amid scandalous interference by the US, which threatened to cut off family remittances sent home by Nicaraguans living in the US, to deport illegal immigrants and to cut off trade.

The foreign minister noted that gains by the Democrats in the US legislative elections should not be overvalued nor bring excessive hopes.

While pointing out that 60 per cent of the US electorate didn't bother to vote, he said the elections were more than anything a defeat of Bush and the conservative group that holds power.

Pérez Roque said the results are a demonstration that when the US people know the truth they won't support a government that tries to deceive them.

"Vast segments of the United States have become aware of this situation and were willing to put national issues, like the handling of the war in Iraq and the corruption and lack of ethics shown by the Republicans, above local issues," said the Cuban foreign minister on the Round Table program.

"This defeat of Bush has been well received by almost the entire world."

From Prensa Latina, Radio Havana and Cuban News agency reports.

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