The Latest: Cuba organizes vote-watching party on US embargo

AP News
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Posted: Oct 26, 2016 3:16 PM
The Latest: Cuba organizes vote-watching party on US embargo

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Latest on the U.S. abstention from a U.N. resolution condemning the embargo against Cuba (all times local):

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1:15 p.m.

Cuba organized a vote-watching party on the campus of the University of Havana, where students and government supporters followed the events on a hours-long special live state news broadcast projected onto a giant screen.

The tone of the coverage was triumphant, calling the U.S. abstention on the U.N. vote a historic victory for Cuba but cautioning that it was meaningless without Congressional action.

"The blockade is still in force but this means that there's been a change in attitude at the highest levels of U.S. government and politics," said Raul Palmeiro, a 21-year-old law student and president of the university's official Student Federation.

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12:30 p.m.

The United States has abstained for the first time in 25 years on a U.N. resolution condemning America's economic embargo against Cuba, a measure it had always vehemently opposed.

The General Assembly resolution was overwhelming approved Wednesday by a vote of 191-0 with the United States and Israel abstaining. Diplomats in the assembly chamber burst into applause as the results appeared on an electronic board.

The U.S. decision to change its vote follows President Barack Obama's restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and his support for lifting the embargo, which the Republican-led Congress is against.

The U.S. abstention in the General Assembly vote is certain to anger Republican opponents of lifting the 55-year-old embargo, but it reflects President Barack Obama's belief shortly before he leaves office that it's time to move ahead in normalizing U.S.-Cuban ties.