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Country Joins Call to End Cuba Embargo

November 5, 2004

WHILE Costa Rica and most of theworld called for an end to more than fourdecades of U.S. trade sanctions againstCuba at the U.N. General Assembly lastweek, the Cuban Consulate in Costa Ricaannounced it is feeling their squeeze.In the landslide vote that was the 13thpassage of the resolution in as many years,179 countries supported ending the sanctions,four countries opposed (the UnitedStates, Israel, the Marshall Islands, andPalau) and one abstained (the FederatedStates of Micronesia).The U.S. representative before theUnited Nations said the resolution attemptedto blame the failed economic policies ofthe communist regime in Cuba on theUnited States and divert attention from theisland’s human rights record, according toa U.N. statement.In what the Cuban Consulate in SanJosé called a new effect of the sanctions, itsoffices apparently have been denied serviceby the Germany-based Siemenstelecommunications company, a companywith which the consulate had previouslydealt.ACCORDING to Cuban Consul toCosta Rica Jorge Rodríguez, Siemens representativeslast month said the firm couldno longer conduct business with the consulatebecause of a recent change in its policythat makes it comply with the U.S.trade sanctions.Siemens officials, however, would notconfirm or deny the charge. Erwin Eller,Siemens CEO in Central America, told TheTico Times the company is resolving theissue and he is under orders to not saymore than the fact that its internal investigationsare still under way.Rodríguez said after denying service,Siemens representatives offered to servethe consulate through a third party.“But I rejected that as a solution that istruly undignified,” the Cuban official said.The sanctions and the denial of serviceby some businesses are the results ofunfounded fears of the U.S. government,Rodríguez said.“THESE are ridiculous extremes.How can it affect the security of the UnitedStates if the Cuban consulate in Costa Ricahas phone service?” he asked.This year’s U.N. resolution expressedconcern over further U.S. measures tostrengthen the sanctions since the firstU.N. resolution to end them in 1991,“which adversely affected the Cuban peopleand Cuban nationals living in othercountries,” a U.N. statement said.Costa Rica has voted in favor of endingthe sanctions every year since the inceptionof the resolution, except 1992, when itabstained.“The position expressed today (Oct.28) has been part of the foreign policy ofour country since (after) 1992,” CostaRican Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar saidin a statement.COSTA Rica’s vote was in the spirit ofencouraging free international trade, Tovarsaid, but he couched his support for endingthe sanctions with admonition againstCuba’s human rights record.Costa Rica “does not waiver whatsoeverin its position with respect to humanrights, freedoms and the aspiration to anopen democracy in Cuba,” Tovar said.Costa Rica voted in favor of a motionbefore the U.N. Human RightsCommission condemning Cuba’s rightsrecord last February (TT, May 7).Rodríguez called the sanctions an actof war and genocide against his country,which is not involved in a conflict or at warwith the United States.“They can block us, but they can’tblock our dreams, our hopes, or our solidarity,”he said.

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