Broad Recognition of Cuba's Human Rights Record

The following is reprinted from Granma International, May 9, 2013

GENEVA, May 1.— The great majority of speakers during Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recognized the guarantees and protection offered human rights in the country, despite damage caused by the U.S. blockade.

Representatives from Latin American, African and Asian countries in the UN Human Rights Council saluted and congratulated the efforts made by Cuba to protect all persons, without distinction whatsoever, according to Prensa Latina.

The Nicaraguan delegate said that his country could testify to the commitment Cuba makes to guarantee the well-being and security of all its citizens, despite constant aggression from the United States.

“Cuba also faces the same challenges existent in any developing country and these challenges are aggravated by the economic blockade, which is incompatible with the promotion and protection of human rights,” the representative from Brazil stated.

The Brazilian government, he added, recognizes and emphasizes the measures taken in Cuba to combat discrimination for reasons of sexual orientation or gender identity, and the existence of a legal framework for the promotion and protection of the rights of women.

During the interactive discussion, Venezuela expressed its hope that Cuba would maintain the struggle against the negative effects of the U.S. blockade and continue to promote peoples’ right to self-determination in international forums.

Peru emphasized the high human development index achieved by Cuba, while Panama saluted work done to protect women and children, as well as the early fulfillment of several UN Millennium Development Goals.

The active solidarity offered by Cuba to developing countries, such as cooperation in the areas of health and education, was highlighted by many speakers.

More than 130 national delegations spoke during the review and the most common view expressed was one encouraging Cuba to maintain the direction of current efforts.

Despite the broad international support, some representatives, including those from the United States, repeated their customary attacks on the Cuban social and political system.

According to DPA, U.S. representative Eileen Donahoe accused Cuba of implementing a “broad, complex web” of regulatory and constitutional measures which hamper the work of “peaceful activists” defending democracy.

Addressing her final comments, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla stated that there is “a great difference between the defense of human rights and actions undertaken by agents of foreign powers,” EFE reported.

“Cuba will never accept a change of regime; thus some of the suggestions made in this hall, in this vein, will obviously not be addressed,” the Minister added.

In regards to other statements about alleged violations of freedom of expression in the mass media, Rodríguez Parrilla commented that the most important protection Cuba provides for freedom of the press is that its communications media are “social property” and do not, therefore, “adhere to the specific interests of private property.”

In a subsequent meeting with the press, the Cuban Minister reiterated that the country maintains close, fluid and systematic cooperation with all UN bodies involved in this issue, in regards to suggestions by participants that a special Human Rights Council rapporteur, or some other international body, visit Cuba. (SE)