The United States found itself up against virtually the entire world Wednesday as country after country at the United Nations denounced the nearly 50-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, which the island government says is as strong as ever under President Barack Obama.
It was the 18th time the U.N. General Assembly voted to condemn the embargo, and the first time since Obama took office in January. In a near unanimous vote — 187 to 3 — the only nations to side with the United States were Israel and Palau, a country of 21,000 people in the Pacific.
Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained.
Experts said the vote underscored Washington's increasingly isolated position on Cuba, and highlighted how little Obama has moved on the topic since taking office.
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While the buzz in the U.S. is how Obama is warming relations with the long-hostile nation, Cuba's government says much of the talk is a media gimmick. "The vote represents the fact that the continued consensus around the world is that the United States policy doesn't make any sense," said American University dean William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuba. "The more time passes without the Obama administration doing something significantly different than [former President] George Bush did, the more hollow the promise of change for Cuba policy looks."
Calling trade sanctions an act of genocide and economic warfare, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said the embargo has cost the country $96 billion.
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