India has come out strongly against the decades-old US sanctions against Cuba calling it a “contravention of world opinion,” even as President Donald Trump wants to roll back the minor relaxations introduced by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Trinamool MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, told the General Assembly on Wednesday: “The continued existence of this embargo, in contravention of world opinion, as expressed by this Assembly, undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations itself.” “As the world’s largest democracy with an abiding faith in multilateralism, India stands in solidarity with the international community in its unambiguous rejection of domestic laws having an extraterritorial impact,” he said.
He praised Cuba’s advances in the social and health fields calling them a “notable achievements of the Cuban people” that helped the nation achieve a high ranking on the Human Development Index. Bandyopadhyay, who represents the Kolkata Uttar Lok Sabha constituency, is a member of the multi-party contingent of MPs in the Indian delegation to the current General Assembly session. India’s objections centred around domestic laws such as the slew of US legislation going back to 1960 that unilaterally imposed sanctions on Cuba after the revolution led by Fidel Castro. Domestic laws should not have an impact on other countries, it contends, while supporting sanctions by the UN.
“The international community needs to step up its efforts to promote an environment free from sanctions and embargoes,” Bandyopadhyay said. Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has passed resolutions against the embargo with near-unanimous majorities. The resolution received 191 votes this year with only the US and Israel voting against it.
Last year the Obama administration abstained from voting on it for the first time signalling the thaw in relations. But US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley said the US would revert to voting against the resolution. “To those who are confused as to where the United States stands, let me be clear: As is their right under our constitution, the American people have spoken,” she said. “They have chosen a new president, and he has chosen a new ambassador to the United Nations.”
Haley, who advocates hardline policies, added: “As long as the Cuban people continue to be deprived of their human rights and fundamental freedoms – as long as the proceeds from trade with Cuba go to prop up the dictatorial regime responsible for denying those rights – the United States does not fear isolation in this chamber or anywhere else. Our principles are not up for a vote.” India has close economic ties with Cuba. India’s Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu was in the Cuba’s capital, Havana, earlier this week to discuss developing trade and business relations and participate in Havana International Trade Fair.
Trade between India and Cuba was $43.1 million in 2016-17.