HAVANA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) — Organizations of Cuban civil society here Wednesday called on the United States to end its over half-century economic, trade and financial blockade against the island nation.

Representatives from religious communities, trade unions, students, scientific and academic organizations gathered at Havana's Higher Institute of International Relations and presented a statement, denouncing the "criminal" U.S. policy.

The statement said Cuba's economic damage caused by the sanctions are valuated at about 125 billion U.S. dollars, according to "conservative estimates" from the island's authorities.

U.S. President Barack Obama was urged to use his executive power to end that "unfair" punishment and the next administration was also requested to do so.

During the gathering, members of Cuban social organizations rejected the U.S. "regime change" policy toward the island, adding the normalization of relations does not include disrespecting the Caribbean country's sovereignty.

They also asked other civil societies, especially the Americans, to join in the struggle against the "cruel siege," which "violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of United Nations."

The embargo was signed by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in February 1962 in an effort to smother the young Cuban Revolution led by former President Fidel Castro, who ordered the nationalization of American companies on the island.

After 54 years of political enmity, Havana and Washington restored formal ties in July 2015, but the economic blockade, a product of the Cold War era, remains.

On Oct. 26, the island will present its resolution "Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba," to be voted at the General Assembly of the United Nations.