Mexico continues to apply pressure on the United States to change its policies regarding Cuba, declaring at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly Thursday that it was time to end its trade embargo.
“In the face of the severe economic and health crisis at a global level, putting an end to the economic blockade against Cuba is urgent,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told the gathering in New York.
“Instead of unilateral measures we must put measures of solidarity and mutual support into operation to boost economic growth and development,” Ebrard said.
Mexico’s call at the United Nations comes after repeated appeals for its suspension by President López Obrador.
Just last week he declared that “no state has the right to subjugate another people, another country” and urged United States President Biden to use his “political sensitivity” and end the blockade.
Mexico’s position has broad international support. A total of 184 countries voted in June in favor of a United Nations resolution to demand the end of the blockade. Only the United States and Israel voted against it. The resolution has been approved annually since 1992, the year the General Assembly began voting on the issue, with the exception of 2020 due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a 15-minute address, Ebrard also touched on a range of other issues including COVID-19 vaccine equity, climate change, immigration and arms trafficking.
“Since the beginning [of the pandemic] Mexico has raised the necessity of guaranteeing equitable and universal access to medications, vaccines and other medical supplies. We do it again with a sense of urgency because while 33% of the global population in high-income countries has already had at least one dose of a [COVID-19] vaccine, only 1.4% of inhabitants of low-income countries have had access to vaccines,” he said, adding that vaccines need to be considered “global public assets.”
The foreign minister described climate change as “the other great challenge of these times” before noting that Mexico has reaffirmed its support for the Paris Agreement and maintains its interest in working with the international community to combat global warming.
“Mexico’s contribution doesn’t just have mitigation commitments, it also has a strong component of adaptation. This component acknowledges the country’s vulnerability to climate change impacts and the urgent need to build resilience against them,” Ebrard said.
“The Mexican adaptation measures include solutions based on nature, … for example the Sembrando Vida [Sowing Life] program, promoted by the government of Mexico, is one of the largest reforestation programs in the world; up until now 700 million trees have been planted, which doesn’t just allow environmental degradation to be combatted but also helps to create dignified work opportunities.”
With regard to immigration – currently a hot-button issue in Mexico due to the arrival of record numbers of migrants this year – Ebrard asserted that the phenomenon is not a “pernicious” one.
“On the contrary, all of our societies have benefited at certain times in their historical development because of the contribution of migrants,” he said.
He noted that Mexico has offered refuge to hundreds of Afghans, more than 18,000 Haitians and over 70,000 Central Americans since the current federal government took office in late 2018.
However, the government has also used force to detain migrants transiting Mexico and deported thousands to the countries from which they fled. The National Guard and immigration agents recently broke up four migrant caravans traveling through the country’s south.
A day after declaring that reducing violence in Mexico will be very difficult if the United States doesn’t do more to stop the illegal flow of weapons into the country, Ebrard told the General Assembly that the Mexican government will continue to be an advocate for the need to combat the sale of arms.
“We will continue to draw the attention of the international community to the irresponsible trade and trafficking of weapons,” he said.
“… We hope that the [Security] Council can implement measures so that there is stricter control of small and light weapons because they are the fuel that feeds the world’s conflicts.”