Cuba says UN human rights official can't enter

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Tue Mar 18 13:24:33 MST 2003

Cuba bases its decision to bar the UN "monitor" not on its sovereignty --
although national sovereignty is what gives Cuba the undeniable right to
make the decision to bar him -- but also  on violations of international
legality involved in the adoption of the U.S.-driven resolution.

Note the viciously oversimplified version of Cuba's argument against the
resolution: "Cuba insists it respects human rights by guaranteeing broad
social services such as free health care and education."  While health care
and education are human rights as well as needs -- in contrast to
capitalist countries where these are treated as burdensome "social service"
expenses -Cuba does not limit its argument to this.

They can point out thsat there is no torture in Cuba, no routine murders by
the cops, no race discrimination, improvements in the status of women,
recognition of the democratic rights of gays, involvement of the people in
political decision-making, the broad and varied character of cultural life,
and many other things.  At the same time, they show how the narrow and
exclusive human rights campaigns sponsored by the United States are stacked
against the countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Fred Feldman
Fred Feldman

And, as the article concedes, they contrast the human-rights situation in
the free territory of Cuba to the crimes being committed by the United
States in the occupied territory of Guantanamo.
Fred Feldman

Cuba: U.N. human rights monitor cannot visit the island
ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Writer
Friday, March 14, 2003

©2003 Associated Press
(03-14) 17:59 PST HAVANA (AP) --

Cuba said Friday it will not let a U.N. human rights monitor
visit the island because the U.S.-backed resolution creating
her post was illegitimate.

Instead, French jurist Christine Chanet would be more useful
visiting terror suspects at the U.S. military prison at
Guantanamo, Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission last year approved a
resolution calling on Cuba to allow such liberties as
freedom of speech and association and to let a U.N. monitor
in to check on progress. Chanet was appointed in January.

"Cuba has not cooperated, nor will it cooperate with the
resolution," Perez Roque said.

He charged that U.S. arm-twisting brought about the
resolution and said Cuba does not accept the legitimacy of
the commission vote.

"The only place on this island where the existence of such a
special envoy could be justified is at the (U.S.) Naval Base
at Guantanamo," he said.

The United States is holding 650 suspected Taliban and
al-Qaida fighters at the base in eastern Cuba.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de
Mello accused the United States on Thursday of keeping the
Guantanamo detainees in a "legal black hole" by denying them
hearings in U.S. courts.

A U.S. court ruled this week that because the prisoners are
aliens held outside U.S. sovereign territory, they are not
entitled to such constitutional rights as being charged with
a crime or having access to a lawyer.

Communist-run Cuba has no control over how the base is used.
To prevent alienating Americans who support changes in U.S.
policies toward Cuba, the island's leaders officially have
not opposed the prison's existence, though they resent
having a U.S. base in their country.

The U.N. rights commission is preparing for its annual
meeting in Geneva beginning Monday, and the foreign minister
said he would attend with a delegation.

The commission has voted to censure Cuba every year over the
past decade except 1998. Cuba annually accuses the United
States of strong-arm tactics to lobby support for the
vote -- a claim American officials deny.

Cuba insists it respects human rights by guaranteeing broad
social services such as free health care and education. It
says rich nations that fail to protect the poor are in no
position to preach.

Censure by the U.N. body brings no penalties but draws
international attention to a country's rights record.

©2003 Associated Press

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