April 17, 2003
CASTRO'S 'BRUTALITY' CALLS FOR UNCHR CONDEMNATION
** Fidel Castro "took advantage" of
the world's attention on Iraq to launch another "wave of repression"
in Cuba and deserves condemnation by the UNCHR.
** Argentine commentary judged President
Duhalde's decision to abstain from voting against Cuba a "serious
mistake" and a "lamentable change of policy" guided by the
** Brazilian writers found the Lula
administration's "timid" stance "deplorable" and
"ridiculous," others agreed that abstention in the face of Castro's
human rights violations was "cowardice."
** Defending their "traditional
non-intervention" and "right to be different," Mexican writers
leaned toward abstention, arguing there are other means to "move"
Cuba toward democracy.
Cuba the 'worst kind of dictatorship,' Fidel can
no longer play 'victim'-- Latin papers denounced Castro's "abominable persecution
and execution of dissidents" and stressed the "gratuity of the
right-of-center O Globo asserted that "this new blow to freedom of
opinion in Cuba must be rejected by all," especially in Latin America
"which worked hard to revitalize democracy after a long institutional
short circuit." Chile's leading La
Tercera insisted that the policy to condemn Cuba "be kept and even
hardened" as a sign of rejection of the island's "flagrant human
rights violations." Colombia's
leading El Tiempo concluded that as long as Castro "is alive,"
there will be "no openness to democracy" in Cuba.
Castro 'exploited' the opportunity to tighten
his grip when attention was on Iraq-- Rather
than seizing the moment when "most of the world opposes his greatest
enemy: the U.S." to reiterate
Cuba's demands, Fidel "acted with the myopia typical of petty
tyrants" and "preferred to use force, in a criminal way." Ireland's centrist Sunday Tribune
observed that "Castro's brutality may not be as overt as that of Saddam
Hussein, but brutality it still is."
While a Mexican daily speculated that Castro was trying to
"provoke" the U.S., Canada's leading Globe and Mail instead
suggested that Washington's "man in Havana" Carson had
"goaded" Castro's regime into its "harshest crackdown on
UNCHR 'dilemma': It's a vote about the 'tyrant'
and human rights not U.S. Cuba policy-- The decision to vote against Cuba should be
"congruent" with the reality of human rights on the island, not made
"out of spite" just to "snub" the U.S. Papers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala
and Panama urged their governments to condemn Cuba. Duhalde's abstention and Lula's
"hedging" were portrayed as cowardice. Argentine papers decided Duhalde's position
was part of an "election strategy" led by "popular
anti-U.S." sentiment. Liberal Folha
de Sao Paulo held that "only a perfect idiot" would equate voting
against Castro with "selling out to imperialism." Mexican writers were conflicted but
rationalized abstention by insisting that it sent a message against both the
U.S.' "abusive and imperialist
politics" and "the abusive and totalitarian policies of
Cuba." Havana Cubavision,
meanwhile, vowed Cuba would not be affected by the "felonies" of the
"empire" and its "lackey accomplices."
This report is based on 61 reports from 19 countries, March 18-April
17. Editorial excerpts from each country
are listed from the most recent date.
"Informative Note Accuses U.S. Of Blackmail In Geneva"
Government owned, government-controlled
television station Havana Cubavision read the following "Informative
Note" (4/15): "Tomorrow...the vote will be held in Geneva on the
tired issue of human rights in Cuba. The United States Government is exercising
colossal pressures on Latin American, African and other Third World
countries. As usual, NATO [members],
with their proverbial and cynical hypocrisy, are supporting as a block the
anti-Cuban resolution presented by despicable lackeys of the empire, which are
in this occasion the governments of Peru, Uruguay and Costa Rica, using as an
excuse the legitimate measures adopted against the mercenaries who, at the
service of the empire that pays them as has been amply proven, commit acts of
treason against the Fatherland. They have gone so far as to spread the news
worldwide that the hijackers of the passenger boat on 2 April with 36 people on
board, sentenced to capital punishment, were three political dissidents....The
Revolution has been forced to adopt harsh measures, which it did not want but
were unavoidable, within the strict framework of the law and without any spirit
of vengeance, which does not fit in the soul of a people determined to fight
until the last drop of blood in defense of its ideals of justice, brotherhood,
solidarity, and humanism, which have been amply demonstrated throughout 44
years of combat....
The United States is exercising all of its power
through blackmail of every kind.... Despite the colossal machinery of
intimidation and blackmail deployed by the United States and its allies, at a
moment when its hegemonic control of the world has been strengthened, it can be
foreseen that the vote against Cuba will be decided by a relatively close
margin. Cuba is not affected by the felonies committed against it. It has been able
to withstand bloody aggressions, blockade and economic war, slander and
infamies, with nothing able to break it. Its morals, its authority, and its
prestige grow stronger each day with the masses, inside and outside the
country. The fascist clique probably thinks that its hegemony and the support
of its lackey accomplices, who betray the honor and the interests of their own
people and of humanity, will be eternal. History will not delay in
demonstrating the opposite."
"'Official Note' Rejects Constant
Provocations of USIS Director James Cason"
An "Official Note" read by station
announcer for government-owned Havana Cubavision declared (3/18): "Our people have met with profound
indignation, the public complaints and the
shameless and constant provocation of the chief of the US Interests
Section [USINT in Cuba. These actions
have obviously been conceived and carried out as part of the current
administration's hostile and aggressive policy toward our country, with the
close cooperation and support of the terrorist mafia in Miami, and the extreme
rightwing in the United States....
In response to the open and shameless goal of
organizing from inside [the USINT] a mercenary force like the one that invaded
us in Giron, which fulfilled orders from a foreign government...and planted
terror and grief in our country -- this time disguised as apparently innocent
and harmless lambs...let there be no doubt that the revolution will implement
with the necessary rigor and to the extent that the circumstances demand, the
laws create to defend itself from new and old tactics and strategies against
Cuba. For these reasons, several dozen
individuals directly linked to the conspiratorial activities of Mr. James
Cason, have been arrested by the pertinent authorities and will stand trial in
our courts of justice. The revolution
has often been generous and tolerant by virtue of its great political strength
and its ability to resist any form of aggression on any grounds.... Those who
know the Cuban revolution know very well that it never bluffs nor is there a
force in the world capable of intimidating it."
"Why Did Washington Goad Cuba?"
Paul Knox commented in the leading Globe and
Mail (Internent version) (4/11): "When James Cason was named last year
as the senior U.S. diplomat in Cuba, he said he planned to be 'creative, active
and vigorous' in the job. The chief result of his vigorous creativity is that
dozens of political activists and journalists have been imprisoned for
outrageously long terms after being convicted of conspiring with Mr. Cason to
overthrow the regime of President Fidel Castro.... No one should be surprised about the Cuban
crackdown -- least of all in Washington. But if it was foreseen by U.S.
strategists, what's the plan? Remember, this is the Bush administration. The
same folks who are bombing the bejesus out of Baghdad to deliver democracy to
the Arab world. The same ones who vow never again to betray opponents of a
tyrannical regime the way Iraqi foes of Saddam Husayn were hung out to dry by
the U.S.-led coalition in 1991. I can't believe the U.S. government plans to
seriously ratchet up pressure on Mr. Castro at the same time as it is heavily
engaged halfway around the world....
What will the Bushites do now to back up Mr. Cason's new friends?
Please, no more military action. But since domestic politics preclude dropping
the embargo, the options for peaceful pressure are severely limited. Cutting off money transfers to Cuba would
impose further hardship on long-suffering Cubans and enrage their relatives in
exile. There seems little point in further tightening travel restrictions. Perhaps the jailed dissidents know what
Washington is up to. At any rate, they've got plenty of time to think about it."
"The President Made The Wrong Choice"
An editorial in independent La Prensa read (4/17): "On
this occasion, Argentina decides to abstain; this means, it endorses torture
and the arbitrary decision of Cuba's supreme will. In a frightening and light
attitude, President Duhalde chose to follow electoral demands and mediocrity,
with the excuse that he was coordinating with his partner Brazil, in order to
snub - and this is the key word - the U.S. again. This is painful. The GOA not
only ignores that the national interest will never be defended if it confronts
with the dominant superpower. Aligning with the world's worst members also
implies an ethical disorder."
"Duhalde Privileges His Candidate"
Mariano Obarrio, political columnist of daily-of-record La
Nacion wrote (4/16): "President Duhalde's decision not to question
Cuba and vote at the UN against what the U.S. requests is due to the fact that
Duhalde made prevail the opinion of his presidential candidate, Nestor
Kirchner, with whom he talked about the positive electoral impact of his
decision. The members of the Duhalde administration preferred to publicly omit
the political aspect of his decision, and decided to emphasize that Duhalde
prioritized the Argentine alliance with Brazil."
"Duhalde Decided Not To Vote In Favor Of Condemning Cuba At
Ana Gerschenson and Atilio Bleta, political columnists of leading Clarin
wrote (4/16) "Yesterday, President Duhalde ordered Argentina to abstain
from accusing Cuba of human rights violations at the UN Commission in Geneva.
It is a turning point in the Argentine position after 13 years of condemnation
of the Castro regime.... Duhalde's abstention could gain votes for his
'progressive' candidate, Nestor Kirchner.... The truth is that, through his
decision, Duhalde repositioned Argentina's foreign policy. It took Argentina
away from its automatic alignment with the U.S. - started by Menem in the '90s
- and prioritized the country's regional alliance with Brazil... Duhalde's
decision showed some disagreement in the national cabinet. Foreign Minister
Ruckauf was concerned about the political and economic repercussions of the
Argentine decision in its future relationship with countries like the US or
"It Was An Election Gesture"
Business-financial Ambito Financiero carried an opinion
piece by Argentine former vice Foreign Minister Andres Cisneros, who wrote
(4/16): "The change in Argentina's vote on Cuba has an election odor
incompatible with the governmental decision-making process in a serious
country. Not even the Alianza dared so much.
Lamentable as it is, today's decision took place in the framework of an
increasing process of bastardization of human rights... In his decision,
Duhalde took into account opinion surveys, consultations with Lula and the
status of Cuba as a 'small country suffering a blockade.' First and foremost,
Cuba does not suffer a blockade but an embargo, and there is no need to vote in
this way to oppose the embargo: Argentina has attacked the embargo for 12
years. One thing is not related to the other. To think that it is right for the
Cuban regime to violate its citizens' human rights under the excuse that the
regime suffers an embargo implies an alarming conceptual disorder... We should
consider that the only element Duhalde should have taken into account to decide
his vote is whether human rights are violated or not in Cuba. Everything else
should be left out. He took into account everything else and left out the human
"A Vote With Mercosur For Abstention"
Fernando Cibeira, political columnist of left-of-center Pagina
12 stressed (4/16) "In a decision that changes the direction of the
Argentine foreign policy of the past twelve years, President Eduardo Duhalde
announced that Argentina would abstain from condemning the Cuban regime at the
UN Human Rights Commission for human rights violations in line with Brazil's
usual position. With impeccable logic, the President said that 'Argentina will
not condemn a small country that suffers a blockade,' and explained that 'he considered
inopportune considering this war in Iraq that is a unilateral violation of
human rights'... Duhalde emphasized that his decision was related to what had
been agreed between the two main Mercosur partners regarding a common position
on foreign policy issues."
"Cuba And Human Rights"
An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion read (4/16):
"Argentina has decided to change its vote on human rights violations in
Cuba at the UN Human Rights Commission after having condemned the Castro regime
three times in a row.... Therefore, our country will not be aligned with the
countries condemning Castro's crimes.... There is no reason to justify this
lamentable change of position.... President Duhalde has made a serious mistake
by abandoning the already traditional Argentine position of condemnation of the
Castro regime.... In the current Argentine political context, it is hard to
avoid the suspicion that this change of position has been decided due to some
election strategy...now that some sectors of the population show a critical
view of Washington policies in the international field.... If this is the case,
a very serious distortion of reality has occurred. What is being analyzed at
the UNCHR is not Washington's strategic behavior but the Cuban situation. It is
not the U.S. policy that we are talking about, but Castro's dictatorship... The
USG - who traditionally promotes the condemnation vote against Cuba - made
public its disappointment due to Argentina's change of position. Beyond this
predictable repercussion, our country's step means a lamentable retreat."
"Argentina's Favorable Vote For Cuba: A Serious Mistake"
An editorial in business-financial El Cronista reads
(4/16): "Duhalde's attitude is very
serious for many reasons. First, for a reason of principles.... The second is
related to the serious human rights violations that have happened in Cuba for
years.... A democratic country like
Argentina should not be cowardly or indifferent toward government and countries
infringing on human rights. Let's not be confused: this is not an ideological
or economic issue. Any dictatorship, whether it is right or left-wing, should
be severely criticized. Also, the current president has no legitimacy to change
a traditional position that has been maintained during three administrations
against Cuba. In order to modify a State policy, like this one..., Duhalde
should have been supported by the popular vote."
"Cuba And Argentina's Vote"
An editorial in independent La Prensa
read (4/3): "Argentina's final decision (regarding the Cuba vote at the
UNHRC) won't be the country's position but that of the politician who's
currently ruling it. This means that, on this issue at least, Argentina lacks
identity. President Duhalde... has already expressed he will possibly change
Argentina's vote to an abstention. In doing this he would be changing our
previous position, which condemned Cuba for its human rights violations....
Duhalde is actually bearing in mind what the U.S. reaction will be, because he
hopes Argentina won't suffer U.S. retaliation on this issue. Our abstention
vis-à-vis Cuba is, however, absolutely coherent with our neutrality regarding
Iraq. We remain halfway, we don't choose between one side and the other; a
comfortable position, apparently with no dangerous commitments, but also imbued
with fears and a degree of cowardice.... Duhalde's idea is to side with
Brazilian President Lula's 'abstention' position, presenting it as a joint
position of Mercosur countries."
BRAZIL: "The Constraints of Timidity"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (4/17): "The
timidity with which President Lula da Silva's administration is dealing with
Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's abominable persecution and execution of
dissidents is deplorable. In a
reflection of its double-standard stance toward the Marxist narco-guerrillas
[FARC] in Colombia, Brazil's hedging on this subject gives the impression that
nostalgia for the revolutionary, authoritarian and left-wing guerrilla still
exists in the Workers' Party [President Lula's party]. Brazil must not hesitate
in opposing the hateful actions of a tyrannical regime like that of the
Cuban.... The U.S.-sponsored economic embargo against the island, which has
submitted Cubans to intolerable privations, must be condemned, as well as U.S.
retaliations against nations conducting business with Havana. But the
dictatorial nature of Castro's regime must be condemned as well."
The lead editorial in center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo
maintained (4/17): "Dictatorships arrest and kill people because this is
their nature.... In fact, imprisonment for political reasons has always been
part of the Cuban 'administrative' routine.... There is no doubt that the
economic embargo has kept Fidel Castro in power. There is no doubt either that
if it all depended on the Congress, and pressure from U.S. export industries,
the embargo would have ended already. But this will not happen in the Bush
administration.... The anti-Castro lobby in Washington has become stronger.
Consequently, the new wave of repression in Havana is a reckless provocation of
Bush's America.... But Castro seems to fear domestic dissidents more than the
neighboring superpower and his enemies in Miami.... It is deplorable that
President Lula da Silva has not directed the Brazilian delegation at the UN's
HR Commission to vote for monitoring Cuba. It would have been an action
consistent with extraordinary moral greatness."
"It's Not Concern, It's Horror"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo political columnist Clovis Rossi
held (4/17): "The official Brazilian position of viewing with 'concern'
the recent wave of human rights violations in Cuba is ridiculous. It should be viewed with horror, disavowal, in
any other way that is more forceful. Concern should be reserved for other types
of problems, such as those emerging about the U.S. and how it is treating
prisoners in Guantanamo.... Concern should also be reserved for the many
actions that took place during the massacre in Iraq. Another type of behavior
is expected from democracies. Nothing
but violence can be expected from a dictatorship like that of the Cuban, and it
does not engender concern -- it engenders rejection.... The violation of human
rights and the economic embargo are separate issues. Violation of human rights is an intrinsic
part of every dictatorship. If the Brazilian government does not want to be
party to a supposed U.S. conspiracy against Cuba, then it should at least
present a motion that denounces and/or call for an investigation of the
situation of prisoners in Guantanamo, or of the crimes committed by U.S. troops
in Iraq. It is not possible to allow exceptions with regard with human rights
when those who violate them oppose the U.S. Only a perfect idiot would say that
if Brazil votes against Cuba on human rights issues, it has sold out to
"Brazil 'Concerned' With Cuba"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo observed (4/16):
"Criticized for [not speaking out about] the repressive measures aimed at
those who oppose Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba, the Brazilian government will
take an unusual diplomatic measure in Geneva today. It will present to the UN's
Human Rights Commission a declaration expressing 'strong concern' about the
recent wave of repression on the island.... Brazil has adopted abstention as a
practice when motions against the Cuban government are considered, because it
believes that the topic is always politicized by the USG's influence.... There
will be another abstention today, but the declaration demonstrates that the
repression exerted in Cuba is beginning to bother both the GOB and its Foreign
Ministry. The GOB has been criticized by its opposition in the Congress, which
wants it to issue a condemnation of the Cuban government. Several GOB
officials, such as President Lula da Silva and Minister Jose Dirceu, have
personal ties with Cuba and Fidel Castro.... Despite the criticism, Brazil's
declaration will not explicitly condemn the Castro regime or request any type
of sanction against Cuba."
Center-left Jornal do Brasil asserted (4/16): "In its
slow agony Fidel Castro's regime is returning to the bloody impetuosity which
fed it at the beginning.... While
protests against this intolerance that sacrifices the lives of political
prisoners are being repeated throughout the world, representatives of the
Brazilian people decided to invite the Cuban Ambassador in Brazil, Jorge Lexano
Peres, to explain this wave of intolerance in Cuba to the Brazilian
Senate. It's a waste of time. There is no way to explain the
inexplicable. Brazil has already pledged
its commitment to democracy even in Paraguay.
It should now send a word of reality to its friend Fidel Castro, guest
at the 'Granja do Torto' barbecue (the Brazilian presidential country house)
when Lula took office. The Brazilian president has the personal authority to
dissuade him of his ruthlessness in exterminating the opposition.... There's no
time to lose."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo held (4/15):
"Taking advantage of the fact that the world's attention had turned to
U.S. excesses in Iraq, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro decided to consolidate his
power and launched another wave of repression on the island.... Havana
condemned to death and executed three people who had hijacked a passenger
boat.... One must recognize that...the hijackers committed a serious
crime. But this is not enough to justify
the application of the death penalty for a crime that involved no deaths. Fidel
Castro should have taken advantage of the moment when most of world public
opinion opposes his greatest enemy - the U.S. - to reiterate Cuba's demands....
But acting with the myopia typical of petty tyrants, Fidel preferred to use
force, in a criminal way that has already condemned him internationally. The
UN's Human Rights Commission will examine the case in the next few days. But no
one should expect much from a human rights commission headed by Muhammar
Kaddafi's Libya. This is but more evidence of the confused times in which we
"A Regime With Sclerosis"
Center-left Jornal do Brasil noted
(4/14): "The violence of the Cuban
regime against its dissidents is not surprising.... What's most revolting in
Fidel Castro's current attack against human rights is the gratuity of the
aggression. Nowadays the
one-single-island of Communism is ridiculous.
The Cuban regime is hardened, has sclerosis..... Brazilian diplomacy,
with rare exceptions, has been careful not to look condescendingly at
Castro....Cuba is a worst kind of dictatorship."
"The Myth That Time Disgraced"
Editor Augusto Nunes wrote in center-left Jornal
do Brasil (4/13): "During his reign of 45 years there were splendid
moments...and also heinous ones. The
brutal offensive against political dissidents figures in the latter, in which a
small multitude of journalists were rounded up when the world was fixed on
Iraq. An exhibitionist, Fidel can be
discreet when he needs to be....Freedom of expression and thought is a victory
of civilized men. It's only a crime for
dictators, like Fidel in his twilight years."
"Terror In Havana"
Calling upon the GOB to condemn Castro's recent actions against
the opposition, right-of-center O Globo
stressed (4/11): "Fidel
Castro's regime took advantage of public opinion being turned towards developments
in Iraq and hauled in the nets filled with prisoners from the opposition....
Fidel's Cuba doesn't adapt itself to an international environment in which
there is little room for dictatorial systems..... This new blow to freedom of
opinion in Cuba must be rejected by all, especially in Latin America, a region
that worked hard to revitalize democracy after a long institutional
short-circuit. Brazil, with aspirations
to consolidate itself as the region's leader, cannot stand aside as it did in
the coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Even if that may cause embarrassment to the
group of Cuban friends in the upper echelons of government, to defend democracy
is a matter of State. The newly-designated Brazilian Ambassador in Havana,
Tilden Santiago, one of those friends of the Island, should have privileged
access to Cuban leaders. He has all
means to approach the issue. Unless this
is a subject not to be treated with friends."
MEXICO: "Castro's Friends"
Juan Molinar Horcasitas wrote in old-guard nationalist Universal
(4/16): "The GOM should firmly and clearly defend human rights in Geneva,
voting in favor of the U.N. human rights resolution that asks the Cuban
government to accept the visit of a U.N. human rights envoy. Even though we haven't lacked those who
oppose this action, everything indicates that Castro's infamous authoritarian
regime is becoming more and more isolated, because his actions are increasingly
indefensible, even for his most loyal friends in Mexico and Latin America. I think that no human rights crusader could
remain unaffected by what is happening in Cuba.
I hope that international pressure on Cuba creates positive effects for
the defense of human rights."
Carlos Fuentes wrote in independent Reforma (4/16): "The fact is that every time a
U.S. president -Carter, Clinton-sent an exploratory peace dove to
Cuba, Fidel made sure it was shot down.
Fidel needs his American ogre, and in George W. Bush, he has one almost
as if Hollywood had designed him. I
maintain the position I have held since 1966, when the Cuban literary
bureaucracy, manipulated by Roberto Fernandez Retamar, denounced Pablo Neruda
and me for attending a PEN Club Congress led by Arthur Miller.... I maintain this position today: against the abusive and imperial politics of
the USG against Cuba. And against the
abusive and totalitarian politics of Cuba against its own citizens. I am Mexican and I cannot accept that
Washington tell us how to conduct our foreign policy, nor can I accept the
Cuban example of a suffocating dictatorship, without free press, without
opinion, dissidence, or free association.
I congratulate (Nobel Prize Winner) Saramago for stating his position. I announce mine: I am against Bush and against Castro."
An editorial in business-oriented El Financiero read
(4/16): "The war crimes in Iraq
could not hide the severe sentences meted against 75 Cuban dissidents, or the
unexpected execution in Havana of the three kidnappers of a ferry. Troubled by isolation, and terrified by the
recent demonstration of strength by the White House, Fidel Castro closed his
iron fist to align himself with George W. Bush in terms of human rights. If one of them ignored the UNSC to begin his
adventure, the other one forgot to listen the claims of the Cuban Revolution,
and violated agreements he had signed within the Untied Nations Human Rights
Commission. History will judge both
individuals and certainly they will not be absolved in spite of their
arguments, even though there could be extenuating circumstances. In any case, the American continent's liberty
Luis F. Salazar commented in conservative El
Siglo de Torreon (4/16): "Mexican deputies (who traveled to Cuba last
week) concluded that Mexico should abstain of voting in favor (of the
resolution condemning Cuba for human rights violations at the upcoming U.N.
Human Rights Assembly), which is inadmissible due the severe nature of the
facts.… If we wish for an improved international legal system, we should start
by establishing objective behavioral measures that are valid for everyone, in
Mexico as in the U.S. and Cuba and in any other part of the world. The double standard
should be left behind.”
"Dilemma Over Cuba"
Ramon Cota Meza stressed in old-guard
nationalist Universal (4/15):
"A few hours away from the vote in Geneva, the cards are already on
the table. We believe that the least
worst option would be to ratify last year’s vote condemning Cuba, and call for
Castro to strengthen the UN.... A team
of human rights inspectors from the UN and the Catholic Church would at least
guarantee some international support for Cuba...but Castro is ahead of us in
the worst way, by cracking down on dissidents and preparing for a 100-year war
with the United States. If there are
attentive ears in Washington, remind them that the transition to democracy from
dying dictatorships is bloodless, but a very certain way to build the future
political order…the case of Spain, that only began the path to democracy when
Gen. Franco capitulated ahead of time."
“Hypocrisy And Barbarism”
An editorial from left-of-center La Jornada
argued (4/15): “To Washington and its henchmen, human rights, international
legality and the values of civilization are concepts that can be manipulated to
their convenience.… Why must we condemn
Cuba and not the U.S., Israel, or even Mexico, countries where there have been
serious violations of Human Rights? Certainly the execution of three kidnappers
in Cuba is a brutal and reprehensible action that repeats the same inhuman and
totalitarian actions that socialism has fought against. Such executions are unacceptable and unjustif
ied, but this condemnation must not be used to play along with the imperialist
interests of the US or to perpetuate general hypocrisy.”
“Cuba Has Few Ideas But All Of Them Are
Arreola wrote in nationalist Milenio (4/15): “In Mexico the left is more
democratic than right, that is why one is surprised that our left loves Fidel
Castro so much, one of the dictators in power for the longest time… The left in
Mexico admires the Cuban people because of their supposedly sovereign decision
of rejecting the values of a consumerist society, but when they visit Havana or
the beaches of Varadero, those Mexicans perceive a great truth: nowadays the
true heroes for Cubans are not Martí, El Che or Fidel but Hamilton, Lincoln,
Franklin, Washington, and all the icons of the American culture… The ideas
about Cuba expressed by the Mexican left are not many, but all of them are very
confused, maybe that is why they are so attractive.”
"Cuba: The Right To Be Different"
Musacchio held in independent Reforma (4/15): "Mexico’s vote in Geneva should be
guided by national interests, not Cuban interests or even less, the permanent
U.S. campaign against Fidel Castro’s government. Today, Mexico’s position faces the risk of
being subordinated to U.S. interests once again. Of course, to not cast a vote against Cuba
does not mean that we are validating what is happening on the island... The author of this article belongs to a
generation that defended Mexicans’ right to dissent and at the same time we
vindicated Cuba’s sovereign right to be different, the same right that is
denied to Cubans. All of this is known,
but even so, if Mexico and the Human Rights Commission condemn Cuba and
continued to cynically overlook similar violations by those who are more
powerful, they will become discredited and renounce all use of their voice in
the international arena...and will weaken the capacity of international
organizations to stop those who do not recognize any other law than their bombs
"Rights In Cuba"
Sergio Sarmiento commented in independent Reforma
(4/15): "The most probable outcome
is that Mexico will vote in favor of the resolution against Cuba that will be
known tomorrow or soon after that…Foreign Relations Secretary (SRE) Luis
Ernesto Derbez has said that the recent crackdown against Cuban dissidents will
weigh heavily upon Mexico’s vote. But my
impression is that these events are simply justifying a decision that was made
some time ago, which has less to do with what is happening in Cuba ands more
with the fact that after the Mexico-U.S. clash in the United Nations over Iraq,
Vicente Fox’s administration simply does not want to add another thorn to the
bilateral relationship. The fact that I
propose that Mexico resuscitate its traditional non-intervention doctrine and
abstain from the vote at Geneva does not mean that I agree with Mexican
politicians who show more loyalty to Fidel Castro than the Mexican people. I am convinced that Cuba can being to move
toward a more democratic political system and show gr eater respect to human
rights...but pressures such as the vote in Geneva or the U.S. trade embargo do
not do anything but toughen the stance of hardliners in the Cuban regime."
“Mexico And The Vote on Cuba”
An editorial in independent Vanguardia
(4/15) observed: "We cannot put on a slant the fact that voting against
(the resolution condemning Cuba for human rights violations at the upcoming
U.N. Human Rights Assembly) would represent an additional element of
deterioration in the Mexico-U.S. relationship, a relationship that beyond
ideological similarities, is more important to us in all senses. We have here
the opportunity to heal the wounds that the war on Iraq has caused to our
relationship with our principal trade partner. The option seems very clear:
Mexico should vote in favor of the resolution."
“The Romantic Cuba”
Federico Arreola wrote in nationalist Milenio
(4/14): “I received a letter from a student, saying that ‘In Mexico they have
the old, useless and romantic idea that the relationship with Cuba is very
important; a consequence of the period when Mexico was the only country who had
bilateral relations with Cuba. Nowadays the relationship with Cuba is as
indifferent as the relationship with Mozambique, because Cuba is not an important
or strategic partner.... Cuba has an aberrant regime, and all its actions are
condemnable because it does not allow to its people to express freely and to
live in freedom.”
“A Vote Against Fidel’s Regime”
Jorge Fernández Menéndez argued in sensationalist
Milenio (4/14): “There are no indications that Cuba is one of the
objectives of the anti-terrorist war of George Bush, in the short and long run,
but it looks like Castro wants to provoke the United States.…Fox administration
has the ethical and political duty to vote in favor of the resolution that
demands that the Cuban government reviews Human Rights in Cuba. The argument
that Cuba is being attacked by special counterrevolutionary forces is invalid:
all dissidents who condemned and arrested reject the US embargo against the
island, none of them propose a violent alternative to bring down the regime, on
the contrary, all of them s upport a peaceful political transit ion. This
position is what provokes that the Castro’s regime consider these people dangerous,
and this is why he adopts extreme measures to incite international
“Deplorable Decision Of The Cuban Government”
Editorial from the old-guard nationalist Universal
(4/12): "Cuba feels itself unjustly besieged, the recent actions confirm
this conviction. It feels the affront of many of its citizens that are in
prison in the US for political reasons, Cuba perceives that international
solidarity, which it used to have, is wearing out because of the fear and
fatigue of countries that love peace. The decision to sacrifice the kidnappers
without appeal is a sad mistake; this action does not leave any margin of
maneuver to groups in Mexico that tried to convince President Fox to avoid the
voting against Cuba; nowadays it is practically impossible that Fox accept that
“Baghdad, Bush And Cuba”
Jorge Fernández Menéndez wrote in nationalist Milenio
(4/10): "The attention of diplomats
and of Mexican international policy is focused on what is happening on Iraq;
next week Mexico will have to adopt a decision that will signal how it wants to
vote on the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva about Human Rights in Cuba…
Last year Mexican government condemned the violation Cuba, today when the
resolution project is lighter than the last one, and when recent abuses against
dissidence were committed: Would Mexico have to change its vote in order to
support Cuba? Wouldn’t this indication make evident a non-serious and unstable
foreign policy? Wouldn’t it be a direct message of a growing distance from
Mexico to Washington? These hard questions do not accept an easy answer.”
Bruno Ferrari asserts in independent El Norte
(4/10): “One of the questions that attracts the most attention is the reason
for George W. Bush’s preoccupation focused on Saddam Hussein when there is a
handful of other ruffians in the world that commit similar or even worse deeds
that are still living under impunity.… I don’t know if it’s the oil or the
vindication of that other chore his father left pending, but the reality is not
all dictators have the same luck. … (The case) that comes to mind the most is
that of Cuba.… Will Castro have the same or similar luck as Saddam Hussein or
will he continue to be, regardless of what he does, a reason for the U.S.
government to reflect on who will decide who will or will not be judged and
punished or halt the people’s march towards freedom and democracy.”
Miguel Angel Granados Chapa wrote in independent
Reforma (4/9): “The Cuban
Republic, so fragile since its birth, resolutely in search of its authentic
independence fifty years ago, is legitimately hurting over the unfair prison
sentences that the USG has imposed on five of its children in Florida. However, in a terrible similarity—and let’s
be careful with these words—Cuba is handing out prison sentences against
freedom of expression, by summarily convicting 15 dissidents out of the dozens
of Cubans that oppose the revolutionary regime arrested last month. I express my solidarity with the five Cubans
jailed in Florida…but my position would not be worth anything if I did not
manifest the same opinion about the dozens arrested in Cuba since
March.... Havana has not used the
conditions against its regime imposed by the U.S. embargo for decades as an
authoritarian resource…but its survival is not threatened by increasing
dissidence, which is abiding by basic rules for its development. If Havana is not Washington, let it not seem
"Vote On Cuba"
An editorial in conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El
Mercurio stressed (4/16): "Although over the last ten years Chile has
established regular diplomatic relations with Cuba, it has always - except once
- voted in favor of resolutions that promote human rights on the
island.... In the upcoming vote Chile
will do the same. This decision has the
support of the opposition parties and several government coalition parties.... In view of the rejection that nations have
expressed over the latest events in Cuba, all nations should decide to promote
another resolution that explicitly calls for the respect of human rights on the
island.... But the political approach to
human rights that prevails in the U.N. has made it impossible to create a
substitute for the current weak resolution."
"Cuba Issue Causes Split In Chile's
Conservative newspaper-of-record El Mercurio
(Internet version) carried a comment by Nelly Yanez asserting (4/11): "A
serious point of conflict arose in the Governing Coalition as to how Chile will
vote next week at the United Nations on the human rights situation in
Cuba. While the Christian Democracy [DC]
considers a 'condemnation' is necessary after the arrest of 78 dissidents, the
Socialist Party is opposed because it feels that creating a conflict [with
Cuba] will not help advance democracy; because they do not agree with the
blockade imposed by the United States; and because they have not forgotten that
the Castro administration took them in after 11 September 1973 [reference to
the military coup].... To date, La
Moneda's position has been to support the resolution presented by Costa Rica,
Peru, Uruguay, and Nicaragua, calling for the deployment of a special observer
to review the situation of the arrested dissidents, although Foreign Minister
Soledad Alvear did not dismiss yesterday the idea of studying the dissidents'
situation if necessary."
Leading-circulation, popular La Tercera ran an editorial
stating (4/9): "Over the last week, the Cuban government has unleashed the
greatest wave of repression in decades....
There is therefore, no reason why the Chilean government should change
its position from last year, when it supported the vote against the island. On the contrary, the policy to condemn Cuba
must be kept and even hardened as a sign of rejection of the flagrant human
rights violations committed on the island and the regime's complete disinterest
in improving in that area. The
government and the Foreign Ministry must be clear and not lend themselves to
games or ambivalent positions.... La
Moneda must be firm and determined...and ignore the political pressure that
will surely increase over the next days."
COLOMBIA: "Cuba Strength Or Weakness?"
Leading El Tiempo (Internet Version)
commented (4/16): "The repression in Cuba demonstrates that, so long as
Fidel Castro is alive, there will be no openness to democracy.... It was initially thought that what lay behind
the new repressive face of the Cuban regime was the intention to send the signal
to Washington that the U.S. shows of force in various parts of the world (and
especially in Iraq) have not crushed Havana's revolutionary spirit. It also was thought that Castro had,
specifically, taken advantage of the crisis in the Persian Gulf to launch the
attack against his weak internal opposition.... However, it would appear that
the objective is far more clear and direct: with the execution of the
hijackers, convicted virtually without any type of trial, and the prison
sentences imposed on the intellectuals, headed by Raul Rivero...the Castro
regime is clearing opponents from its path to ensure the government's
transition to the one whom everyone in Cuba considers as Castro's successor:
his brother, Raul.... But anyone who thought that the regime was losing its
strength for this reason was mistaken.
On the contrary, as is being proven by the actions these days, the
ironclad control that Castro has maintained over Cuba still remains as absolute
as it was at the peak times of the revolution."
“A Vote Based on Principle in the Case of Cuba”
Moderate, leading Prensa Libre stated in
its main editorial (4/16): "In a
regime that skillfully uses demagogy and fallacies to gain sympathy, it is not
surprising to learn of yesterday’s laments by the Cuban Ambassador to
Guatemala, who said ‘it was very painful that countries that were friends’
would vote against (Cuba) in Geneva,
anticipating the possibility that Guatemala’s position would not favor his
country. As a matter of fact, Guatemala’s
vote should be to condemn (Cuba)… the decision should be congruent with the
reality of respect for human rights on the island, and not out of spite for the
United States for its charges of corruption against Alfonso Portillo’s
“A Parody of Justice in Cuba”
Influential El Periodico published a
column by staff writer Jorge Palmieri (4/16):
"In Cuba it is impossible to speak of a free press, based on the
fact that it is prohibited for a private citizen to own any media outlet, because
these may be owned exclusively by the government… Today Guatemala must vote in Geneva, and if
the government wants to become an accomplice to Castro it will vote against a
resolution presented by Nicaragua...or it will abstain.”
“Castro Helped Portillo’s Decision”
Nationalistic and often anti-American afternoon La
Hora ran a column by editor Oscar Clemente Marroquin stating (4/15): “In the past, when (Guatemalan) President
(Alfonso) Portillo made the decision to vote against Cuba in the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights, he did so because of relatively friendly pressure
from the United States… In the present circumstances, the U.S. Embassy in our
country has not acted with the diplomatic reserve customary in these cases. In
a public and open way it has exerted pressure at a time when it is evident that
the Guatemalan government must bend over backward to be able to change the
decertification (of its drug cooperation) that causes so much damage to our
Moderate, leading Prensa Libre weekly
editorialist Jose Raul Gonzalez Merlo asserted (4/15): "What happened in
Cuba is nothing new. It has been
happening for more than 40 years and everyone knows it and says nothing.… If
for one second these people would put themselves in the place of Cuban
political prisoners and feel what it feels like to be imprisoned for speaking
what they feel or they think. Or they
would consider that the prisoner could be their husband, their mother, daughter
or brother. Then they would march in a
campaign calling for international solidarity.…
But in the case of Cuba.… they rather ‘not intervene in matters of a
sovereign nation’...the ultimate show of hypocrisy.”
“Stalinist Trials in Communist Cuba”
In his column in influential morning El
Periodico Jorge Palmieri noted (4/15):
"Portillo’s administration is angry with Washington because of
decertification (on counter-narcotics cooperation). In reprisal, Vice President
Reyes traveled to Havana to visit Fidel and later, Foreign Minister Edgar
Gutierrez welcomed his Cuban counterpart (to Guatemala), demonstrating with
this that everything he has fought for regarding human rights does not apply to
the Cuban dictatorship. In order
to demonstrate to the world it couldn’t care less how the Human Rights
Commission in Geneva votes, the Cuban dictatorship has recently tried almost
100 dissidents, including many journalists, whose only crime is not to agree
“The Hunt in Cuba”
Sunday editor Haroldo Shetemul argued in
moderate, leading Prensa Libre (4/13): "No regime can justifiably
institute censure and crime; to support it and keep quiet would be to allow
these despicable acts. That is why I
consider it necessary for the U.N. to approve the visit of a Human Rights
observer in Cuba to verify the situation on the island.”
“Unanimous Censure to Castro’s Regime”
In its main editorial, Prensa Libre
stressed (4/14): “The free, democratic, and civilized world...was shocked,
outraged and disappointed by the execution in Cuba of three people who tried to
hijack a boat last April 2.… This
heinous crime, which motivated the world’s unanimous condemnation, must bring
the leaders of democracies together to censure this dreadful regime, because
its existence, in this day and age, is a shameful insult to humanity.”
“No More Tolerance for Fidel Castro”
Conservative, business-oriented Siglo
Veintiuno commented (4/12): “The series of detentions and sentences against
those who oppose the dictatorial regime of Fidel Castro in the last weeks has
paled in comparison to yesterday’s execution of three people captured while
trying to leave the island on a boat, something that has shocked the world and
demonstrates the irrationality that characterizes the socialist leader… These swift executions demand a firm attitude
by the community of nations in the next vote by the U.N. Human Rights
Commission that will take place in Geneva, Switzerland.”
“Cuba and Human Rights”
Influential morning El Periodico ran an
op-ed by staff columnist Gonzalo de Villa (4/11): “In the next few days the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights will vote on the state of human rights in
Cuba.... The pressure from the United
States will be colossal in requesting Guatemala to vote against Cuba, and
following this vote, important consequences will come. Cuba, for its part, does not dare to ask for
a yes and will settle for abstention.… The simple question is: Are there advances for the respect of human
rights in Cuba? The simple answer is
no. If the matter to consider was
pleasing the United States is more important for Guatemala than pleasing Cuba,
the answer is yes, like it or not. If
the question was, does Guatemala owe gratitude to Cuba for the presence of
Cuban doctors, the answer is also yes.
Now, if the final question is whether many countries lack the moral
authority to condemn Cuba, the answer would also be yes. But we must remember, in all honesty, what
the question is: Are there advances for
the respect of human rights in Cuba?
With the same honesty we must answer, despite political calculations
that twist lies until they seem true.”
NICARAGUA: "U.S. Is Like Cuban Regime"
An op-ed in leftist El Nuevo Diario
claimed (4/15): "Those who
cultivate hypocrisy, with no compassion or love for life and plenty
of political opportunism, pronounce themselves against the Cuban cruelty with
the same ink with which they write congratulations to the empire for its 'victory' over Iraq, even though there is
plenty of evidence that it achieved the 'victory' through destroying the lives
of hundreds of children and adults, as well as a large part of the historical
and cultural patrimony of the country"
PANAMA: "Iraq And Cuba: Double
Conservative El Panama America editorialized (4/16): "The double political standard of
certain organizations and people are shown in their attitudes toward the Iraq
war and the executions and imprisonments in Cuba. Those critics of the U.S. military
intervention in Iraq have been freely expressing themselves
everywhere...however, we note that these same organizations and anti-U.S.
critics have kept silent on what is happening Cuba.… We reproach the economic
blockade to Cuba, which suffocates its people, as well as the persecution of dissidents
and journalists by the regime that rules them."
"Fidel Once Again"
Sensationalist tabloid Critica Libre observed (4/11): "The world clock never stops. Times are changing...but in Cuba there seems
to be no room for liberty...the government violates all civil, political and
economic rights, including the brutal decision to imprison Cubans involved in
Plan Varela.… For Cubans, world organizations have no credibility."
"Vote Against The Dictator"
A staff writer commentary in left-leaning Asuncion Ultima Hora criticizing Fidel Castro and urging the
Paraguayan government to demand a UNCHR representative be allowed into Cuba
stated (4/10): "After this brutal blow to human rights -- that reminds so
many of us of the days of the Tyranosaurus (Stroessner) and his Law 209 -- one
is obliged to universally condemn Castro's government."
VENEZUELA: "The Iraqi
Leading conservative daily of record El Universal ran an
op-ed by Antonio Cova stating (4/9): "Precisely when the British and the
Americans seem to be completely absorbed by the problem to get rid of
the Iraqi tyranny, the oldest and most obstinate tyranny of the Caribbean
insists on demonstrating that it neither learns nor gives in.... [N]othing is more terrifying for a tyranny than
the spread of the opinion that it can no longer administer terror. It is
precisely at this point that we connect to Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in
Cuba.... And what can be said about his protégé, Chavez? In such difficult
times for maintaining an already-established, self-styled revolutionary
tyranny, the efforts - out of time and out of place- to 'install' a new one
where today’s victorious empire has never tolerated a challenge of such nature,
can be, frankly, suicide. That’s why the
advice, attributed to Castro, to solve the current Venezuelan impasse by
speeding up the revolutionary process is, by all means, a very risky
endeavor, even more amid an ever-increasing opposition and the most serious
economic crisis in the history of the country.... Therefore I insist: the only future left for
Chavism is to accept free elections as soon as possible, since that is the only
thing that will save it from extermination."
BELGIUM: "Abuses Of
The Cuban Regime"
In the wake of the recent Cuban crackdown on
Cuban opponents and in light of the ongoing meeting of the UN Human Rights
Commission in Geneva, Olivier Mouton editorialized in independent La Libre
Belgique (4/15): “Within the UN, where many Southern countries support the
Cuban ‘resistance’ to American unilateralism, discussions are likely to be
tense. Yet, there cannot be another choice than to very clearly condemn Fidel
Castro’s recent decisions. Criticism that one can address to Washington can in
no way legitimize the abuses of the Cuban regime....As far as the EU -- and
Belgium in particular -- is concerned, it must clearly indicate that the
reconciliation that recently began cannot continue with a country that so
blatantly flouts the most elementary human rights.”
IRELAND:"It Is Up To The UN To Try To Bring Justice To The
World's Worst Regime"
The centrist weekly Sunday Tribune
reflected (4/13): "Fidel Castro has, for many years, been portrayed as
some kind of victim. While there is little justification for the level of
sanctions imposed on Cuba by the United States, there is an urgent and
desperate need for the world to take a long, hard look at Cuba other than in
holiday brochures.... Cuba is run by a
self-serving and brutal dictator: Castro's brutality may not be as overt as
that of Saddam Hussein, but brutality it still is....It is not the sanctions
alone that cause the hardship for the Cuban people...We do not, however bad
things are, need the United States doing to those countries what it did and is doing
to Iraq. What we do need is a strong United Nations. But thanks to American
impatience to get to war, it may just be too late to hope for that."
CZECH REPUBLIC: Reasons to Demonstrate
Pavel Verner in the center left daily Pravo (4/11):
"Demonstrators for world peace are terribly disappointed by the Iraqis who
are not opposeing the invadors as predicted. There are other reasons why people
should go out into the streets now - the mad dictator in Cuba has just staged a
judicial farce with 78 dissidents and independent journalists. Why don't these
advocates of human rights go to the streets over this matter? Or are protests
against injustice limited only against the Americans?"
PORTUGAL: "Dead For All Af Us"
In a signed editorial, influential moderate-left Público,
editor-in-chief José Manuel Fernandes wrote (4/9): "The search for the truth of this war is
being paid in a great deal of blood.
Journalists' blood.... Their
sacrifice provides us with a tragic dimension of the conflict and, at the same time,
expresses the power of the democracies we live in.... It is these legions of journalists [in Iraq]
that allows us to have, in the Western press, a plural vision of events --
exactly the opposite of what is happening in the Iraqi 'media', where the only
'truth' are the bald-faced lies of the Minister of Information. But these journalists that have fallen are
not the only victims these days of the freedom to inform. On the other side of the world, in Cuba, an
abominable regime took advantage of the media distraction provoked by the war
to arrest journalists and sentence them to heavy prison terms.... It is at
times like this, when some of us are dying while doing what they most want to
do, and others are arrested for the crime of having an opinion, that we best
understand the superiority of a democracy.
And how democracy, at times, also demands its tribute in sacrifice and
SWEDEN: "One Less
Tyrant In The World"
The conservative Stockholm morning Svenska Dagbladet (SvD)
editorialized (4/11): "There will likely be other battles between
democracy and dictatorships...Saddam Hussein likely will not be the last tyrant
who must leave his palace in a hurry. Not only in Cuba, Iran, and North Korea
do oppressors and their supporting troops have all the reason to be worried.
The world needs more 9 Aprils and less 9/11s."
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Castro The Only Winner Of Cuba's Revolution"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
editorialized (4/13): "Dr. Castro's
paranoia that the U.S. will stage an Iraq-style invasion or infiltrate his
communist regime with spies and bring about its collapse is undiminished four
decades after he took power. To ensure
his political survival, the veteran revolutionary is flouting fundamental human
rights norms.... Castro and the U.S.
have been just as stubborn in their standoff.
The U.S. still encourages asylum seekers from the island and refuses to
lift a trade embargo. Cuba, despite
grinding poverty, resists the pull of the global economy and uses its police
force to ensure opponents are silenced....
It is time Dr. Castro and the U.S. ended their war. Concessions can easily be made so that Cuba's
people can take their rightful place in the world community."
PAKISTAN: "Iraq Is
Finished, Now On To North Korea And Cuba"
An op-ed by columnist Madhav Gadkari in the Mumbai edition of
left-of-center Marathi Dainik Lokmat judged (4/10): "War is America's biggest industry. It is obvious that America needs to keep the
war fires going at different places around the globe to sustain its
economy. The Iraq war is almost over ...
The aggression against Iraq is just one of a series by the U.S. which is aimed
at establishing its hegemony over the world and also to establish its control
over sources of crude oil ... America will not stop now. Its next target is North Korea and then Fidel
Castro's Cuba. The U.S. chooses smaller
nations to demonstrate its military might.
However, when the U.S. targets North Korea, China will have to take a
stand. China will in all probably throw
its weight behind North Korea and take on the American might.... America has now arrogated itself the right to
decide who shouldrule which country."