National Security

Trump Reverses Obama Policy On Cuba Embargo

REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Trump administration intends to vote this week against a United Nations resolution condemning the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, reversing an Obama administration position amid a period of heightened diplomatic tensions between Washington and Havana.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley will cast a “no” vote Wednesday against the non-binding resolution, which is taken up in the U.N. general assembly every year as an international expression of disapproval of the decades-long embargo. Last year, under Obama, the U.S. abstained from the vote as a part of the administration’s tentative rapprochement policy between Cold War adversaries.

The reversal reflects a more hawkish approach to Cuba by the Trump administration, which was critical of warming relations with the Castro regime even before recent revelations that two dozen U.S. diplomatic personnel were subjected to unexplained “sonic attacks” in Havana.

“The Trump administration policy gives greater emphasis to advancing human rights and democracy in Cuba, while maintaining engagement that advances U.S. interests,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, according to the Associated Press.

Haley’s vote is likely to worsen relations between Washington and Havana that were already under strain due to the diplomatic fallout of the sonic attacks. Cuba has complained that the U.S. overacted to the incidents by pulling most of its non-essential staff from the embassy in Havana and ordering 15 Cuban diplomats to leave Washington. The Trump administration has not directly blamed Cuba for the attacks, but U.S. officials have said Cuba did not do enough to protect American diplomats from harm.

In 2014, Obama and Castro began to normalize bilateral relations, which Washington effectively cut off after Fidel Castro assumed power in the communist revolution. The next year, both countries re-opened embassies in each other’s capitals, but Obama was unable to convince Congress to end the trade embargo.

The U.N. has since 1992 passed a non-binding resolution every year denouncing the embargo. In 2015, Israel was the only country to join the U.S. in voting against the resoution, leading to a 192-2 tally in the general assembly.

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