The only thing different this year was Ebola: For the 23rd year in a row, the United Nations General Assembly passed a near-unanimous resolution condemning the long-standing American embargo against Cuba. The vote this year was identical to 2013, with 188 countries in support and only the US and Israel against, reports Reuters. Palau and the Marshall Islands, which have occasionally voted against the embargo in years past, abstained, as did Micronesia. Several countries, including China and Mexico, used the occasion to praise Cuba for sending more doctors than any other country to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Cuba's foreign minister told the assembly that the embargo introduced in 1960 "has seriously impeded the economic development of the country" and 77% of Cubans have been born under it, reports the AP. "Although our social and health system have prevented the loss of lives, no honest person, in the world or in the United States, can support its devastating consequences," he said. A US envoy defended the embargo, saying the annual symbolic vote against it is the Cuban government's way of shifting "blame for the island's economic problems away from its own policy failures."