The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution that calls for the US to lift its embargo against Cuba amid the devastating impact of the economic blockade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iran PressAmerica: The vote on Wednesday was 184 in favor, three abstentions by Colombia, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates, and two No votes by the US and Israel. Member states once again said the blockade goes against international law and the UN Charter. Cuba called the embargo “a systematic violation of the rights of the Cuban people.”

“The US government adopted the virus as an ally in its ruthless non-traditional war against Cuba,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the General Assembly. “This constitutes an act of genocide… Just like the virus, the blockade asphyxiates and kills, and it must stop.”

In opposing the resolution and maintaining the Trump administration’s position, the US defended the use of sanctions as part of a broader effort to advance democracy on the island, support human rights and help Cubans exercise their civil liberties.

“We recognize the challenges the Cuban people face. That is why the United States is a significant supplier of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners,” US diplomat and UN mission political coordinator Rodney Hunter told the General Assembly.

Ever since the Cuba-backed resolution was first introduced, UN member states have approved it by an overwhelming margin. The most No votes it has ever garnered were four, including those of the United States and Israel, which has always voted in lockstep with the US.

The only time the US didn’t cast a no vote was in 2016 during the Obama administration’s opening toward Cuba when both the US and Israel abstained.

The General Assembly’s last vote during its 74th session in November 2019 was 187-3 with the US, Israel, and Brazil voting No and Colombia and Ukraine abstaining. The assembly’s 75th session began in September 2020, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vote on the Cuba resolution was postponed.

Rodriguez and several UN members said the embargo has cost the Cuban economy around $147.8 billion in losses over nearly six decades, and about $9 billion calculated from April 2019.