UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution urging the United States to end its unilateral embargo against Cuba, the 17th consecutive year that an overwhelming majority in the assembly have supported the measure.
The resolution, entitled "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba," cleared the 192-member assembly with a voteof 185 for, three against and two abstentions.
The United States, Israel, Palau voted against the resolution. Marshall Islands, which cast the "no" vote last year, and Micronesia abstained.
During the three-hour plenary session of the General Assembly, representatives from many countries and groupings criticized Washington's embargo and sanctions against Cuba for almost half a century.
"Seven out of 10 Cubans have spent their entire lives under this irrational and useless policy, which attempts with no success to bring our people to their knees," Cuban foreign minister FelipePerez Roque said.
"The blockade is older than Mr. Barak Obama (U.S. Democratic presidential candidate) and everyone in my generation," said Roque,who was born in March 1965.
Branding the embargo on Cuba as "a genocidal and illegal policy," the Cuban foreign minister said direct accumulated damages caused by the blockade exceeded 93 billion U.S. dollars, almost twice the size of Cuba's gross domestic product, citing "very conservative estimates."
He urged Washington to end its "brutal economic war on a global scale" and spare the Cuban people of more prolonged suffering.
Ambassador John Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda, who spoke on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, condemned "the use of economic coercive measures designed to prevent countries from exercising their right to decide their own political, economic and social systems," urging all countries "not to recognize the unilateral, extraterritorial laws which have imposed sanctions on other states and foreign companies."
"The embargo against Cuba contravenes the fundamental norms of international law, international humanitarian law, United Nations Charter, and the norms and principles governing peaceful relations among states," Ashe said, "Its continued imposition violates the principles of the sovereign equality of states, and of non-intervention and non-interference in each other's domestic affairs."
The representative of Guyana, who spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), expressed concern and solidarity with the people of Cuba.
"When viewed in light of Cuba's own sacrifices, and selfless assistance to other states in times of crisis, such an embargo seems particularly ill-conceived," he said.
South African Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo hailed Cuba's extension of friendship and solidarity to other people around the world.
"It is not unusual to find Cuban doctors and Cuban nurses in many parts of Latin America and Africa," Kumalo said, "Cuba's outstanding work in the areas of health, education, and biotechnology is recognized by the international community."
China's deputy permanent representative to the U.N., Liu Zhenmin, said the U.S. embargo has had extensive impact on Cuba, especially in compromising the right to survival and development of the most vulnerable groups in Cuba, such as women and children.
"The practice of attempting to force another country through embargo and sanctions to give up its right to independently chooseits path of development, even to overthrow its government, constitutes a serious violation of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the basic norms governing contemporary international relations," Liu said.
He said the embargo and sanctions have seriously hampered the efforts of the Cuban people to eradicate poverty, improve their living standard, purse economic and social development, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
"They undermine the right to subsistence and development of the Cuban people," Liu said.
"The international community is now faced with serious challenges of the global food crisis, and ensuing worsening problems of hunger and malnutrition, which makes the sanctions and embargo more unreasonable than ever," he added.
Camillo Gonsalves, the ambassador of St. Vincent and Grenadine to the U.N., described the U.S. embargo as "an ideological tool...a relic of a bygone era."
Ronald Godard, the U.S. State Department's senior advisor for Latin America affairs, defended Washington's Cuba policy.
"Each of the member states of the United Nations has the sovereign right to conduct its own trade with another country as it sees fit, subject only to the treaty obligations it has freely undertaken," Godard said, describing the embargo as "a bilateral issue relating to the efforts of the United States to mitigate the impact of the Cuban government's repressive policies towards its own people."
Maria Rubiales de Chamorro, the ambassador of Nicaragua, said "the light of hope that was lit by the Cuban revolution can never be extinguished by this infamous embargo."
When concluding the session, U.N. General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann urged the United States to end the blockade of Cuba "once and for all."
"There is nothing more counter to the spirit and letter of the (United Nations) Charter than the embargo against Cuba," d'Escoto said.
"In view of recent events in Cuba and the damage caused by hurricane Ike, which hit the island right after hurricane Gustav, maintaining that embargo... is clearly an act of extreme cruelty, "he said.