Friday, April 4, 2008

OAS Human Rights Commission Condemns Cuba Anew

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is a semi-autonomous branch of the Organization of American States (OAS), has once again condemned Cuba for multiple violations and abuses of human rights. The list of is a familiar one, but just to keep the information current it includes:

  • Restricting political rights and freedom of expression

  • Denying free elections

  • Denying an independent judiciary

  • Preventing the organization of independent trade unions

  • Stripping foreign reporters of work permits for the content of their reporting

  • Threatening attacks against Cuban rights activists

  • Imprisoning 26 Cuban journalists

  • Violating multiple articles of international rights treaties


  • But they made progress in extending health care! So we can keep our Che T-Shirts, can't we?

    I know that for many of you it is not anything new to hear that Cuba has been condemned again for violations of human rights. But the very sad thing about the latest report on human rights from the IACHR of the OAS is that it comes at a time when the prestige of Cuba is actually rising in Latin America, if not elsewhere in the world, owing to the public relations campaign the Bolivarian Left has been circulating recently, much of which has actually been swallowed here in America by the Indy Media/MoveOn.org/Daily Kos crowd. It really is sad, but it is also true.

    While it is a repetitive exercise to review the Castro regime's record on human rights, even though still worthwhile, it may be useful to address at least one myth which has circulated here in the U.S. about its historical context -- there has not been an improvement in recent years. I expect this myth will be repeated over the next few days in the event that a discussion of the IACHR's report surfaces.

    Cuba has actually worsened in its conduct over the past few years, ever since the Primavera Negra (Black Spring) crackdown on dissidents in March, 2003. For those of you who do not know much about this, beginning on March 18, 2003 and continuing for a few days afterwards, the Cuban government arrested and later "tried" and imprisoned some seventy-five academics, independent journalists, librarians, trade unionists, and other activists. To this day about fifteen have been released for health reasons -- it is worth mentioning here that conditions in Cuba's prisons do not meet western standards by any stretch of the imagination -- but all others remain behind bars at present, some serving sentences as long as twenty-eight years, including the renowned Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.


    Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet

    There is so much more to tell about this and other continuing violations of human rights in Cuba, but I want to take this moment to refer you to some other very fine bloggers who have been on top of this horrible story and who are waging a good fight deserving of commendation. You will find this particular story referenced today on page one of the Babalu Blog, which may have the most wide-ranging information on Cuba of all the blogging sites. Work their site search engine and you can learn a lot quickly. I am especially attached to Marc Masferrer's Uncommon Sense Blog for its content on the plight of the journalists and others arrested in the Black Spring. Marc's career in journalism has made this into a personal cause and I want to come back to him later when I post more on the fine work of tracking political prisoners in Latin America now underway in the blogosphere. The Spanish language bloggers, many of whom take this story very personally and express its significance in heartbreaking tones, also offer a lot. While there are too many to name in a sentence, perhaps no one has done more than Martha Colmenares to track the plight of political prisoners everywhere, and especially in Venezuela, and the world deserves to know her. Cuba Independiente is one of many Spanish-language blogs to watch, take a look at the map image near the bottom of the page just linked for Cuba: La Isla Cárcel (Cuba: The Island Prison). You can also find more links to other Spanish language blogs at both of these two sites, and I include a couple more on this page in the sidebar at the right.

    StJacques

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