Explanation of Vote at a UN General Assembly Meeting on the Cuba Embargo

Ambassador Michele J. Sison
U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
November 1, 2017


The United States believes the people of Cuba deserve a stable, prosperous, and democratic country. We strongly support their right to freely determine their own future. It is the Cuban government – and not the United States – that continues to deprive the Cuban people of this aspiration. Our sanctions against Cuba are just one part of our overall effort to help all in Cuba freely exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms and choose their own destiny. For that reason, we vote “No” and strongly oppose this resolution.

Mr. President, every year, the Cuban government uses this resolution to identify the United States as its scapegoat in order to shift blame away from its own policy failures. The Cuban government continues to isolate the Cuban people while disingenuously blaming the embargo. In fact, Cuba currently has one of the most restrictive economies in the world as a direct result of its government’s policies. Irrespective of U.S. policy, the Cuban economy will not thrive until the Cuban government allows a free labor market, fully empowers Cuban entrepreneurs, respects intellectual property rights, allows unfettered access to information via the Internet, opens its state monopolies to private competition, and adopts sound macro-economic policies.

The United States remains a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people. Our policy emphasizes advancing human rights and democracy on the island, while ensuring that our engagement benefits the Cuban people – and not their dictatorial regime. Our policy focuses on engagement with the Cuban people to give them the support and tools they need to move forward, independent of the obstacles imposed by their own government.

The United States continues to call on the Cuban government to allow the people in Cuba to enjoy political and economic freedom. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment, and police violence against those who peacefully seek freedom for political prisoners and who advocate on behalf of positive political and social change. These practices fly in the face of the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed in the Cuban constitution.

This resolution is a distraction from the real problems facing the Cuban people. Therefore, the United States strongly opposes it.

Even if the U.S. Congress lifted the embargo today, Cubans would not be able to realize their potential without significant political, economic, and social reforms by their own government. We encourage this body to support the desire of all in Cuba to determine their own future and enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Doing so would advance the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the purposes for which the UN was created. The Cuban people deserve no less, and the United States will continue to pursue policies that aid them in their quest for real freedom and democracy.

Thank you.