Cuba, the US, and the farce of Geneva
Cuba, the US, and the farce of Geneva
Translated by Diana Baharona
The call launched by more than 4,000 writers, artists, academics, members of parliament and other public figures from five continents, among them six Nobel laureates, who urged the Geneva Human Rights Commission not give in to blackmail by the United States and to reject a motion against Cuba, was not successful. The resolution brought by Washington against the Caribbean island passed.1 After the Bush administration exerted pressures on Third World representatives on the commission (particularly those from Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America), the initiative against Cuba was adopted on April 14, 2005, by a majority of 21 votes to 17, with 15 abstentions.2
To pass the resolution, Washington had to resort to coercion. For example, the U.S. threatened an African nation with not buying any more cotton from it. The U.S. delegation also warned another African country that if it voted against the motion, the U.S. would not intervene to stop an uprising by the opposition during upcoming elections. An Asian country was threatened with repatriation of a wave of immigrants if it dared vote against the resolution. Several Latin American nations were also intimidated.3
Generally, this kind of text is presented every year by a third country at the demand of Washington. But this year the United States had to bring the resolution itself since no nation would go along with this petty political game whose only objective is to ratchet up the aggression against Cuba a little more. In effect, the Bush administration tries to justify, through this resolution, the inhuman economic sanctions it imposes on the Cuban population and its diverse political and diplomatic attacks against it.4 In spite of all its might, the United States had to resort to assorted threats and economic blackmail to force member states to vote against Cuba.5
It is rationally possible to understand, to a certain extent and taking political and economic [realities] into account, that a government of an underdeveloped country would agree to participate in the strategy of isolating Cuba, even though this complicity is ethically unacceptable. Certain members of the commission, facing moral considerations on one hand and U.S. intimidation on the other, chose the road of abstention. Nevertheless, it is difficult to accept that the European Union would ally itself with the aggressive policies of the United States, taking collaboration to the point of co-sponsoring the Washington resolution. Unfortunately, Europe showed once again that it was incapable of adopting a sovereign position, preferring to submit to U.S. political maneuvers.6 In reality, the diplomatic power of Europe is no more than an illusion.
From a strictly moral point of view the United States, responsible for two military invasions of sovereign countries since 2001 -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- author of the war crimes committed at Abu Graib and at the Guantanamo naval base against people whose legal existence is not even recognized, does not exactly have any legitimacy to bring a human rights resolution against anyone. With more than 100,000 Iraqi victims counted since the beginning of the armed aggression, to which is added the parody of "free elections," shamefully certified by the majority of the international community, Washington does not have any lessons to teach regarding democracy and respect for fundamental rights.7
During the 61st session of the Geneva Human Rights Commission, the United States was isolated on several occasions due to its positions taken on certain issues. For example, the U.S. delegation voted against the resolution titled "the struggle against defamation of religions," presented by Pakistan and passed by a wide margin (31-16). The United States was also the only one to vote against a text presented by Libya in support of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, which passed by a huge majority of commission members (only Costa Rica abstained).8
Nevertheless, another resolution approved by a large majority and rejected by Washington clearly illustrates the Bush administration's foreign policy against Cuba. Brought by the Cuban delegation, the resolution which condemned "the use of mercenaries to violate human rights and the right of the people of a country to self-determination" was approved with 35 votes in favor and 15 against, namely the U.S. and the countries of the European Union.9 In effect, the United States refused to adopt a resolution that condemns its widespread practices, including the terrorist war it wages against Havana and which has cost the lives of numerous Cuban citizens.
According to the words of Roger Noriega, an extremist of Cuban origin and also Assistant Secretary for Western Hemispheric Affairs, the Bush administration decided to increase by $14.4 million the colossal budget of $36 million allocated to Cuban mercenaries on the payroll of the White House.10 In total more than $50 million is allocated for the sycophants that the media transnationals fallaciously call "Cuban dissidents."11 Noriega, who stated that more than $6 million had already been given out, was so honest that he even named some of the people in charge of formulating U.S. foreign policy against Cuba. He acknowledged in writing the name of Martha Beatriz Roque, of Ladies in White (wives and daughters of the U.S. agents convicted by Cuban courts in March 2003) and Oswaldo Paya.12
Another name evoked on that occasion was that of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), whose activities Noriega praised: "The French NGO has also dedicated its efforts to making public service announcements, placing ads, and writing reports, in order to focus attention on the lack of media freedoms in Cuba."13 Not at all surprising given the links between the organization directed by Robert Menard and the tiny fascist Cuban exile groups in Florida, of which several are responsible for terrorist acts against Cuba.14
At the same time the case of Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles exploded. A former CIA agent, Posada Carriles had been sentenced to eight years in prison for the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro in 2000. He had been scandalously freed by former Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso a few days before the end of her term in August 2004, in exchange for a golden retirement for her in Miami.15 Since then he was a fugitive. Nevertheless, since the beginning of April 2005 Posada Carriles is hiding in Miami, with the complicity of the U.S. authorities who protect him while he files his asylum petition. How is it, at a time of such an intense struggle against terrorism, that the Bush administration can protect an individual sentenced by U.S. courts for terrorist activities? As Congressman William D. Delahunt (D-Mass.) pointed out, "If Posada is allowed to remain here, it would obliterate Americaâ€™s credibility in the war on terrorism, because it would suggest that we share the views of those who Al Qaeda [...] I can't imagine how one could defend a terrorist where there exists overwhelming evidence that he was responsible or a co-conspirator in blowing up a civilian plane."16 The explosion cost the lives of 73 people in October 1976.
So the White House, at the same time that the charade in Geneva was being performed, was protecting and continues to protect one of the worst terrorists in the Western Hemisphere, whose residency in the United States has been prohibited by U.S. courts. Furthermore Cuba and Venezuela are requesting his extradition.17 It is suitable to ask on what ethical grounds a nation which protects individuals involved in international terrorism can condemn the Havana government. Only the Cuban extreme right in Florida cheered the measure adopted against Cuba and the support given by the European Union.18
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque explained the reason why Washington is obsessed with bringing a resolution against Cuba: "The United States accuses us because it fears our example, because it wants to persecute our vocation of independence, because it attempts to crush the example of a country that has refused to submit to its dictates. That is what is at the heart of it."19
Since 1987, Cuba is the only country of Latin America against which the United States has brought a resolution on human rights. What is the reality of the Latin American countries that agreed to Washington's petty political maneuver, namely Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico? To what extent do they respect human rights?
According to the U.S. State Department's own 2004 world human rights report, in Honduras police are responsible for several "extrajudicial killings." Several "organized private and vigilante security forces were believed to have committed a number of arbitrary and summary executions" of unionists and political opponents, thanks to the creation of â€œdeath squadsâ€. According to this same report, "Prison conditions remained harsh and often detainees did not receive due processâ€. "Members of the economic, military and official elites enjoyed considerable impunity. Other human rights problems included violence and discrimination against women and discrimination against indigenous people." The report concludes that "the government did not effectively enforce all labor laws and child labor remained a serious problem."20 The annual report of Amnesty International on Honduras is also overwhelming and reports abuses committed against "members of indigenous groups [who] faced torture, threats and harassment."21
With respect to Guatemala, the same annual State Department study reports that "state institutions charged with enforcing the rule of remained weak." The report adds that "police brutality and prison conditions were concerns," as well as the threats and abuses against "nongovernmental organizations and human rights workers."22 Amnesty International reports that "human rights abuses in Guatemala reached levels not seen for many years." The organization adds that "the principal targets were those involved in challenging the impunity by those responsible for widespread massacres ad other atrocities during Guatemalaâ€™s 30-year civil conflict."23
With regards to Mexico, Amnesty International emphasizes that "human rights violations" were "widespread." "At least one human right defender was murdered and others received threats," according to the 2004 report. "Several social activists faced criminal charges that were reported to be politically motivated" and "many indigenous communities continued to suffer marginalization and violence."24
It isn't necessary to spend time on the issue of respect for human rights in Saudi Arabia, Armenia, Hungary, Romania or South Korea; five countries that joined in the game of the United States by voting for the resolution against Cuba.
It is appropriate to point out that at no time did Amnesty International or Washington accuse Cuba of the abuses committed in nations such as Honduras, Mexico or Guatemala. The State Department's own report for 2004 emphasizes that "there are no disappearances or murders for political reasons" in Cuba.26 The comedy orchestrated in Geneva smells of political nepotism and its only goal is to justify the implacable state of siege that the United States maintains against Cuba.
Ukraine also played a sad role on the commission. The 15th anniversary of the medical assistance program provided by Havana to the child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which allowed 18,153 Ukrainian children between five and 15 years old to receive free medical treatment in Cuba, was just celebrated. The government of Viktor Yuchenko thanked the altruistic efforts of the Cubans by submitting to the will of the United States and voting, against the public opinion of the Ukrainian people, for the text which stigmatized the Cuban revolution.27 All of that a few days after the Ukrainian minister of health, Nikola Efimovich Polischuk, declared that no country in the world did as much for the child victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster as Cuba.28
U.S. agression against Cuba will clearly not end soon. At the same time, it is regrettable and shameful that the European Union, and France in the foreground, would associate themselves with it in such a servile and criminal manner.
1 El Nuevo Herald, « Gorbachov firma en defensa de Castro », April 11, 2005, p. 23A.
2 Sam Cage, « ComisiÃ³n de la ONU condena situaciÃ³n de derechos humanos en Cuba », El Nuevo Herald, April 14, 2005.
3 Felipe PÃ©rez Roque, « ResoluciÃ³n yanqui en Ginebra contra Cuba », Cuba Debate, April 15, 2005.
4 Orlando Oramas LeÃ³n, « OficializÃ³ EE.UU. propuesta anticubana en CDH », Granma, April 11, 2005. www.granma.cu/espanol/2005/abril/lun11/oficializa-e.html (site consulted April 13, 2005).
5 Sam Cage, « U.S. Criticizes Cuba on Human Rights », Washington Post, April 12, 2005.
6 El Nuevo Herald, « PrevÃ©n una confrontaciÃ³n entre Europa y Cuba », April 14, 2005, p. 5A; El Nuevo Herald, « Europa apoya la condena a Cuba », April 12, 2005.
7 Amnesty International, « United States of America », Report 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/print/E9B959205B323ACB80256E80004C86E4 (site consulted April 16, 2005).
8 Cuba Debate, « Estados Unidos ya lleva perdidas cuatro votaciones en la ComisiÃ³n de Derechos Humanos de Ginebra », April 14, 2005. www.cubadebate.cu/index.php?tpl=noticias-show-full¬iciaid=4702¬iciafecha=2005-04-14 (site consulted April 15, 2005).
9 Agencia de InformaciÃ³n Nacional, « La CDH adopte une rÃ©solution cubaine contre le mercenariat », April 8, 2005. www.ain.cubaweb.cu/idioma/frances/2005/abr8ginebra-aprueban.htm (site consulted April 11, 2005).
10 Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, (Washington : United States Department of State, May 2004). www.state.gov/documents/organization/32334.pdf (site consulted May 7, 2004), p. 22.
11 Roger F. Noriega, « Assistant Secretary Noriegaâ€™s Statement Before the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations », Department of State, March 3, 2005. www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/rm/2005/ql/42986.htm (site consulted April 9, 2005).
14 Salim Lamrani, Cuba face Ã lâ€™Empire / Propagande, guerre Ã©conomique et terrorisme dâ€™Etat (Outremont : LanctÃ´t, 2005), pp. 87-94.
15 Ibid., pp. 183-93 ; Pascual Serrano, « La ex presidenta panameÃ±a Mireya Moscoso asiste como invitada de honor a la casa en Miami de los terroristas indultados durante su presidencia », RebeliÃ³n, April 14, 2005. www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=13940 (site consulted April 15, 2005).
16 Michael A. Fletcher, « U.S. Asylum Sought by Cuban Tied to Terror Cases », The Washington Post, April 13, 2005, p. A02.
17 El Nuevo Herald, « Venezuela insistirÃ¡ en extradicciÃ³n de cubano anticastrista », April 12, 2005.
18 El Nuevo Herald, « El exilio celebra el voto contra Castro », April 15, 2005, p.19A.
19 Granma, « EE.UU. pretende en CDH acallar ejemplo de Cuba, afirma canciller », April 14, 2005. www.granma.cu/espagnol/2005/abril/juev14/ejemplo.html (site consulted April 15, 2005).
20 Bureau of Democracy, « Western Hemisphere. Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2004-2005 », U.S. Department of State, 28 mars 2005. www.state.gov/g/drl/sls/shrd/2004/43113.htm (site consulted April 15, 2005).
21 Amnesty International, « Honduras », Report 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/hnd-summary-eng (site consulted April 16, 2005).
22 Bureau of Democracy, op. cit.
23 Amnesty International, « Guatemala », Report 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/print/A1E3A7E26BA5512580256E7F003E2358 (site consulted April 16, 2005).
24 Amnesty International, « Mexico », Report 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/print/B51DB1801491DA6D80256E7F00404751 (site consulted April 16, 2005).
25 See U.S. Department of State and Amnesty International 2004 reports for these countries.
26 Bureau of Democracy, op. cit. ; Amnesty International, « Cuba », Report 2004. http://web.amnesty.org/web/web.nsf/print/425C41E3DC6E6F0080256E7F0037A61D (site consulted April 16, 2005).
27 Fernando Ravsberg, « Cuba : 15 aÃ±os con vÃctimas de Chernobyl », BBC Mundo, April 6, 2005.
28 El Nuevo Herald, « Atendidos 18,000 niÃ±os de Chernobyl », March 31, 2005.