U.N. Pans U.S.-Cuba Embargo

The U.N. vote on Tuesday condemning the U.S. embargo of Cuba was a guaranteed slam-dunk victory over Washington and Cuban officials made the most of it.

The government gathered 5,000 officials and dignitaries at Havana's Karl Marx theater to watch a live broadcast of the U.N. General Assembly debate on a giant screen, as well as the following 179-3 vote against the 42-year-old U.S. embargo of the communist island.

Cuba's parliamentary president Ricardo Alarcon said on national television that U.S. officials "are going in one direction and the world in another that is completely different."

The news led the midday news on Cuban state television following days of heavy coverage of the history of the embargo — which officials here insist is a "blockade."

Leaders were so sure of victory that the front page of Juventud Rebelde, the Communist Party youth wing newspaper, carried a photograph of the U.N. headquarters overlaid with the words: "For Cuba, Against the Blockade."

The U.N. General Assembly has voted repeatedly since 1991 to denounce the U.S. embargo and most of the United States' closest allies — even those who share disputes with Cuba — join in. As a General Assembly measure, its effect is moral rather than legal and the United States has routinely ignored such votes.

Only Israel — which itself has business interests in Cuba — and the Marshall Islands joined the United States in voting against the resolution on Tuesday.

Despite a current crisis in relations with Europe caused in part by a crackdown on local dissidents, Cuba gained six votes over last years 173-3 victory.

"It is a rotund defeat for the sponsors of the Yankee blockade against our country," said the state television announcer.