Over Objections, US Pushes Anti-Cuba Resolution at the HRC


3-24-05, 9:10 am

This past weekend in Geneva, Switzerland, the Bush administration pressed on the UN Commission on Human Rights at its 61st session a draft resolution attacking Cuba.

According to Prensa Latina, the US delegation presented a four-paragraph document calling on the commission to report on the situation of human rights in Cuba during the current period of sessions, and to continue monitoring the island next year.

Unlike in 2004 when Bush officials used bullying tactics to pressure other countries on the commission to present and support the resolution, this year they were forced to present the resolution on their own.

The Bush administration-authored resolution does not ask the commission to investigate charges of human rights violations committed at US prison facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Abu Ghraib, or any other US-controlled facility about which reports of violations, including killings, beatings, rape, and psychological torture have surfaced.

The failure to generate support for the draft resolution is regarded as a defeat for Bush’s foreign policy aimed at Cuba and a signal of the continued isolation of the US under Bush in the international community.

According to Cuban diplomats, that represents a setback for the Bush administration, because the extensive pressure they exerted on other countries failed.

The Cuban government rejected the resolution’s mandate of requiring the commission to report on Cuba’s human rights situation because it comes from a politicized resolution to which the island is staunchly opposed, according to Prensa Latina.

The Cuban representative, Juan Antonio Fernández, offered a possible motive for the Bush administration’s tactics: 'The Bush administration is trying to justify the blockade that is resoundingly condemned every year in the UN General Assembly.'

Aside from hating Cuban society, Bush uses Cuba to pander to the leaders of the Cuban-American community in Florida where his brother, Jeb Bush, is governor. If he is harsh on Cuba, he believes that his brother will win more votes from that community. The US maneuver at the human rights commission garnered some stinging criticism from internationally respected human rights activists. Over 2,100 international intellectuals including Nobel Prize winners José Saramago (literature), Rigoberta Menchú (peace), Alice Walker, Dario Fo (playwright and poet), and more signed a petition to the commission urging it to block the US ploy.

Ukraine's parliamentary human rights representative, Nina Karpachova, added her voice to the choir of criticism while visiting Cuba this week. Karpachova expressed her concern that the US’ ploy undermines the legitimacy of the commission and the concept of protecting human rights.

She noted, 'As Ukraine’s ombudsman and human rights representative, I dedicate myself to defending human rights and for that reason I feel very personally what Cuba is doing as opposed to the countries of the ‘great democracy,’ which are increasingly moving away from their people and in real terms are failing to defend the human rights of the absolute majority of citizens in their countries.'

Karpachova’s concerns, only thinly veiled as aimed at the US, were reflected in an unrelated story involving former vice presidential candidate John Edwards. Edwards assumed the directorship of the Research Center on Poverty in the University of North Carolina and told a television interviewer that officially 36 million people currently live in poverty in the US.

This number is 13 million more than it was 30 years ago when Bush’s political allies and forbears began their concerted effort to chip away at the 'war on poverty' enacted by the Johnson administration. Edwards added that this 'is something that can not be tolerated in a rich and prosperous country like ours.'

Meanwhile, 46 million people in the US, the vast majority of whom do not fall under the official poverty line, go without access to health care because they cannot afford skyrocketing costs or ballooning insurance premiums. Official statistics number the unemployed at 8 million, with another 7 million labeled 'underutilized,' or working one or more part time jobs in order to make a living wage.

Karpachova pointed out Cuba's enduring commitment to aiding countries with medical emergencies and disaster relief. 'No other country has done as much for the children of Chernobyl,' she stated.

Italian Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Dario Fo, commented to the international press upon signing the statement in defense of Cuba that 'The United States is the last country to meddle in human rights issues, considering what it has done in Abu Ghraib and is still doing in Guantánamo, where prisoners are reduced to the state of larvae, psychologically destroyed. The United States has created a sort of apartheid of terror used to create a permanent state of panic on its base in Cuba.'