Senators Urge U.S. to Abstain from UN Cuban Embargo Vote

Today, 10 U.S. Senators, led by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), sent a letter to President Trump urging him to direct the U.S. to abstain from voting on the United Nations resolution condemning the Cuban embargo. The UN is expected to vote on this resolution for the 26th time in the next few days. 

Last year, the U.S. abstained from voting on the resolution for the first time in 25 years,"as it has become abundantly clear that our effort to isolate Cuba has instead isolated us from the international community and particularly from allies and partners in this hemisphere."

"Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba.  The longer we maintain this outdated Cold War policy the more our international and regional credibility suffers," the Senators wrote. 

The letter was signed by Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). 

The letter text is available here and below.  

October 31, 2017

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump:

Next month, the UN General Assembly will vote on a resolution calling for an end to the United States embargo against Cuba for the 26th time.  As you know, last year the United States abstained from voting on the resolution for the first time, as it has become abundantly clear that our effort to isolate Cuba has instead isolated us from the international community and particularly from allies and partners in this hemisphere.  We recognize that because the embargo is still U.S. law, the Administration is unlikely to oppose the resolution.  However, as one of only two nations that did not vote in favor of the resolution, we urge you to direct our UN Ambassador to again abstain in order to prevent further isolation of the United States.

Our failed embargo against Cuba has been repeatedly and publicly condemned by the international community as ineffective and harmful to the people of Cuba.  The longer we maintain this outdated Cold War policy the more our international and regional credibility suffers.    
Proponents of the embargo have asserted that the resolution ignores the plight of Cuban dissidents, and that the embargo serves to advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba.  In fact, the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Cuban-Americans, and Cubans, including Cuban entrepreneurs and many dissidents, oppose the embargo and favor engagement by the United States with Cuba.  Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other human rights defenders have also cited the embargo’s ineffectiveness in furthering the cause of human rights in Cuba. 

A move to once again defy the international community by voting “no” would neither reflect the will of the American people, nor would it represent the voices of the hundreds of U.S. companies, universities, state and local agencies, and cultural institutions that have already started to engage with and invest in Cuba.

One vote on a UN resolution cannot replace the legislation required to end the embargo.  Only Congress can repeal this outdated policy.  It does, however, signal to the international community that the United States remains open to dialogue and further negotiation with Cuba.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, 

Patrick Leahy
Amy Klobuchar
Chris Van Hollen
Jack Reed
Sherrod Brown
Edward Markey
Elizabeth Warren
Al Franken
Jeff Merkley
Sheldon Whitehouse