The United States may choose to abstain from an upcoming vote at the United Nations General Assembly calling for an end to the half-century lock blockade against Cuba, according to diplomatic sources.
“There is a strong rumor that is running that the United States will abstain in this vote,” Venezuelan ambassador ot the UN Rafael Ramirez told Prensa Latina Friday. “We will see how it turns out.”
The Nicaraguan representative, Maria Rubiales, said she heard the same thing.
The possible abstention would reflect a shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba, announced in December 2014, when U.S. President Barack Obama admitted that his country’s existing policy had been a failure.
Since then, Cuba and the U.S. have formally restored diplomatic relations and opened embassies in each others country.
Obama has used some of his power as president to unilaterally lessen the impact of the blockade on Cuba. Ultimately, however, the power to lift the blockade rests with the U.S. Congress, currently dominated by Republicans, many of whom are dead set against change.
Earlier this month, nine governors from across the U.S. asked the Congress to lift the blockade against Cuba.
Speaking at the UN in late September, Obama was confident, declaring that his country would “inevitably” lift the blockade.
The UN vote on the blockade is set to take place on October 27. The U.S. blockade on Cuba has been condemned at the U.N. every year since 1992. Last year, 188 countries condemned the blockade with only the U.S. and its stalwart ally Israel voting against it. Should the U.S. abstain, Israel is expected to do the same.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez announced during a press conference in September that the country would once again present a resolution before the General Assembly calling for an end to the blockade.
Rodriguez added that this year’s resolution would differ slightly from those presented in previous years, with a greater emphasis on the alleged violation of international law. It is also expected to call on UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to prepare and present a report on the implementation of the resolution by the U.S. government.
According the Cuban government, the blockade has cost the country’s economy US$833.7 billion over the last five decades.