UN Ambassador Nikki Haley put the United Nations in its place Wednesday as the UN prepared to adopt a resolution demanding an end to America’s economic embargo on Cuba.
“Let’s be honest about what we really see going on here,” said Haley, who called the resolution “political theatre.”
“This assembly does not have the power to end the US embargo. It is based on US law, which only the United States Congress can change,” Haley stated, according to McClatchy.
Haley said the issue is not that America has sanctions against Cuba, but that Cuba’s government is an offence against freedom.
“Each year, this Assembly’s time is wasted considering this resolution,” Haley told the assembly. “And the United States is subjected to all manner of ridiculous claims — anything to deflect attention from the regime that is actually responsible for the suffering of the Cuban people.”
Last year, when the resolution was considered, the Obama administration abstained from voting. Haley used that as a springboard for her comments.
When the United States abstained on this resolution last year, its decision was explained by saying, “We recognise that the future of the island lies in the hands of the Cuban people. There is a casual cruelty to that remark for which I am profoundly sorry. Regrettably, as of today, the future of Cuba is not in your hands. It remains in the hands of your dictators,” she said, as reported by National Review.
Haley said the United States supports the Cuban people, not its leaders.
“The United States opposes this resolution today in continued solidarity with the Cuban people and in the hope that they will one day be free to choose their own destiny,” she said.
“How is it that our vote came to be changed? Democracy is the answer,” she said, later adding, “To those who are confused as to where the United States stands, let me be clear: As is their right under our Constitution, the American people have spoken. They have chosen a new president, and he has chosen a new ambassador to the United Nations.”
Haley said that American policy will change when Cuban repression ends.
“As long as the Cuban people continue to be deprived of their human rights and fundamental freedoms — as long as the proceeds from trade with Cuba go to prop up the dictatorial regime responsible for denying those rights — the United States does not fear isolation in this chamber or anywhere else,” she said.
Haley said America is not out for popularity at the UN.
“Our principles are not up for a vote. They are enshrined in our Constitution. They also happen to be enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. As long as we are members of the United Nations, we will stand for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms that the Member States of this body has pledged to protect, even if we have to stand alone,” she said.
Haley then had a message for the Cuban government and one for its people.
“The Cuban regime is sending the warped message to the world that the sad state of its economy, the oppression of its people, and the export of its destructive ideology is not its fault. In the spirit of sending messages, I would like to direct the rest of my comments towards the Cuban people. The American people strongly support your dreams to live in a country where you can speak freely, where you can have uncensored access to the Internet, where you can provide for your families, and where you can determine your leadership,” she said.
Haley said that America will always stand on the side of freedom.
“The United States opposes this resolution today in continued solidarity with the Cuban people and in the hope that they will one day be free to choose their own destiny. We might stand alone today. But when the day of freedom comes for the Cuban people — and it will come — we will rejoice with them as only a free people can,” she said.
The Washington Examiner reported that Haley’s defiance was supported by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
“While this resolution is only symbolic, the United States has once again sent a clear and unequivocal message to the Cuban people: we are on your side,” Rubio said in a statement.
“Despite the Obama administration’s unilateral concessions to the Castro regime, I remain hopeful that the Trump administration’s new policy toward Cuba will empower the Cuban people, and bring them closer to freedom and democracy. Ambassador Haley’s vote today is one more step in that direction,” he said.