Latin America’s Progressive Bloc Lines up at the UN against Washington Sanctions

By Ociel Alí López on September 22, 2023

photo: Teri Matson

The shift to the left that is currently taking place in Latin American governments could be felt in the presidential speeches at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UN), which is being held this week.

These governments were particularly unified in their disagreement with the application of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba. There was also a consensus among them to protest the inclusion of Cuba in the “list of countries sponsoring terrorism” maintained by the U.S. Government.

Since the inauguration of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Colombian President Gustavo Petro, criticism of these policies has become common in this type of forum. But the forcefulness with which the Chilean president, Gabriel Boric, and his counterparts from Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, and Honduras, Xiomara Castro, joined in this demand, shows that there is a formal, heartfelt demand from the region to Washington.

Boric even stated that the sanctions against Venezuela endangered the presidential event scheduled for 2024: “We are convinced that in order to guarantee free elections, with guarantees for all sectors, it is also imperative that the United States lifts the sanctions it currently has against Venezuela”.

Like the other presidents mentioned above, the Chilean president was emphatic in rejecting Washington’s policy towards Havana: “Declaring that Cuba is a country that promotes terrorism is not only false, but it also violates us. And therefore, we urge the U.S. to follow the line taken by Barack Obama’s government when it removed Cuba from that infamous list”.

It is the first time in recent years that such a large number of presidential voices have come together, united around these demands that are already taking the form of a regional protest.

The Argentine president, whose position was moderate during the first years of his presidential term, has been categorical on this occasion: “Argentina firmly opposes the use of unilateral coercive measures and the adoption of discriminatory trade practices. The perpetuation of the blockade against Cuba is inadmissible. Year after year, this General Assembly demands by an overwhelming majority the need to put an end to such blockade”. Then, Fernandez stressed the demand to remove Cuba from the aforementioned list: “we request, once again, the exclusion of Cuba from the list of countries that allegedly sponsor international terrorism”. In the same tone of protest, he demanded: “the immediate cessation of the sanctions imposed by the United States on Venezuela”.

In the same vein, the President of Colombia denounced that Cuba is “unjustly blockaded”.

The President of Honduras went on to warn on the subject of Venezuela and demanded “an end to the practices of sanctions, piracy and confiscation of assets of one nation against another”, since “we cannot speak of a civilized world when we live exposed to being embargoed and having our reserves frozen in foreign banks, as is currently happening to Venezuela, whose assets were confiscated in violation of all the norms of international law”.

Washington responds

After the barrage of claims presented at the UN General Assembly, the spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, Kristina Rosales, recently conducted an interview with a Latin American media and responded: “Cuba remains on the list, it is not leaving; we do not have any announcement or any information to say that we are going to take the country off the list or take any action that contemplates another country, a third country, which in this case is what President Petro says. Cuba remains on the list.”

“We live exposed to be embargoed”: Xiomara Castro denounces confiscation of resources to Venezuela.

Maintaining a radical language that indicates little appreciation for the positions of Latin American governments, Rosales continued: “The US has a serious evaluation process where the situation of the country is examined, Cuba will not be removed, and if there is a change, the US will be the one to make the announcement, but we do not communicate or indicate or inform a third country about what could possibly happen with a terrorist designation”.

Washington’s position raises the level of tension in its relations with several governments in the region and there is no improvement in sight that could lead to a more fluid dialogue.

Source: RT, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English