UN votes to end US embargo on Cuba for 22nd year

Updated 06 November 2013

UN votes to end US embargo on Cuba for 22nd year

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted for the 22nd time to condemn the US economic embargo against Cuba, whose foreign minister said the more than 5-decade-old blockade was barbaric and amounted to genocide.
There were 188 votes for the resolution, entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” in the 193-nation General Assembly. The only country that joined the United States in voting against the resolution was Israel.
Last year, there were the same number of votes for the resolution, though the tiny Pacific island nation of Palau voted with Israel and the United States against the resolution.
US President Barack Obama, who said before taking office that he wanted to recast long-hostile US-Cuba relations, has been a disappointment to the Cuban government, which hoped he would do more to dismantle the embargo.
“The human damages caused by the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by the United States are incalculable,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the assembly.
“It provokes hardships and is a mass, flagrant and systematic violation of human rights,” he said. “The fact that 53 years later the same policy still prevails is something extraordinary and barbaric.”
He added that the economic damage to Cuba amounted to $1.126 trillion and that the blockade “has been classified as an act of genocide” under the Geneva Convention of 1948.
Other countries lined up to slam the US embargo, including Ethiopia on behalf of African states, Iran on behalf of the 120-nation non-aligned movement, India, Mexico, China, Ecuador, Russia, Bolivia and Indonesia. Nicaragua’s delegate called the blockade “inhuman and criminal.”
Countries criticizing the US blockade spoke of the importance of non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign states, a concept enshrined in the United Nations charter.
Rodriguez said the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration.” Some 30 US and foreign entities were hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba, he said.
US envoy Ronald Godard dismissed the resolution, saying that while Washington welcomed some of the recent changes in Cuba, the country “still has one of the most restrictive economic systems in the world.”
He added that the United States continues to allow aid and monetary remittances to flow into Cuba.
“The United States is a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people,” Godard said.
He also urged the government to release Alan Gross, a US contractor serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba for setting up Internet networks, work that a Cuban judge said was a crime against the Cuban state.


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 35 min 31 sec ago

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.