OpEdNews Op Eds

Human Rights Watch and Cuba

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 2 of 3 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   News 1  
View Ratings | Rate It


- Advertisement -
HRW also claims that in January 2009 a number of young people in eastern Cuba were charged with "dangerousness' simply for being unemployed. One was said to have been jailed for two years just "for being unemployed". HRW notes that Cuba links some arrests to "a US policy aimed at toppling the Castro government " However, in the scores of cases Human Rights Watch examined for this report, this argument falls flat."

Let's examine some of the legal and practical aspects of these claims.

Firstly, Article 62 of the Cuban Constitution actually says that citizens liberties "cannot be used against that established by constitution and the law, nor against the existence and objects of the socialist state, nor against the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism'. That is not the same thing as "prohibiting the exercise of any basic right that runs contrary to "the ends of the socialist state''. Dissent is not the same thing as attacking the constitutional order.

Legally, there is indeed a principle of "social dangerousness' in Cuban law, but is a concept that qualifies criminal and other offences. For example, "social dangerousness' can aggravate an "act' which is an offence under labour law (Law 176). Conversely, under the Penal Code (art. 14) the absence of "social dangerousness' can mitigate the penalty for an offence. The "dangerous state' defined by the Penal Code (art. 72) is also a qualifier to a range of anti-social conduct, including drunkenness.

In other words, the HRW focus on "dangerousness' is an artefact. There is no substantive offence of "dangerousness'. It is a qualifier to actual conduct. Similarly the fact of being unemployed in Cuba is not any sort of offence. That is just absurd.

However in the case of the celebrated "dissidents' - which include many of the "independent journalists' and "human rights defenders' funded by the State Department and USAID programs to promote a "transition' in Cuba the possession of large amounts of money whilst unemployed can constitute evidence of an offence.

For example, "dissident' Oscar Espinosa Chepe had been unemployed for ten years at the time of his March 2003 arrest, yet he had over $7,000 hidden in the lining of his suit. That money could have been in the bank with his other savings, but it had recently come from a US-linked group. Similarly, Raúl Rivero, Hector Palacios, Osvaldo Alfonso Valdes and others were charged because there was evidence (including receipts) that they had received money from US programs aimed to overthrow the Cuban constitution. The HRW report ignores this evidence.

The same Miami groups that sent money to these Cubans (but note, most of the US Government money stays in Miami, provoking conflicts within these groups) had organised bombings of tourist hotels in Cuba in the late 1990s. Cuban authorities are unsurprisingly intolerant of this terrorism. The March 2003 arrests were provoked by Cuban fears that the Bush regime would mount an Iraq style invasion, making use of these paid agents.
- Advertisement -

After the "New Castro' report, Human Rights Watch maintained its campaign on behalf of the US-funded "dissidents'. It demanded in January 2010 that the Cuban Government "immediately cease its harassment of the blind human rights defender Juan Carlos González Leiva, a leader of the Council of Human Rights Rapporteurs'. González Leiva heads the Camaguey chapter of the Cuban Foundation for Human Rights, a body which has been funded by Washington via Miami for at least a decade.

Some US "aid' for Cuban agents bypasses Miami. The US Government directly supports the "independent journalists' over whom both Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and HRW express so much righteous anger. The US "Interests Section' in Havana (the de facto Embassy) directly prints the Revista de Cuba magazine of the "Márquez Sterling Journalists Society', while El Disidente magazine is printed in Puerto Rico but distributed through the "Interests Section'.

This information is published in some detail in Cuba but is barely mentioned by HRW, or in any other US reports. Since the US "consensus' has effectively disqualified the entire Cuban system, no regard need be paid to such detail. Yet there can be no doubt that independent countries have the right to self-defence from US subversion and terrorism.

HRW says the 50 year economic blockade by the US of Cuba has failed but (unlike the 187 countries that voted against the blockade at the United Nations, in 2009) the New York-based group does not condemn this blockade as a violation of human rights.

Rather, HRW argues that Cuba uses the blockade as a pretext for repression. It proposes a new program against Cuba where the Europeans and Latin America join with Washington in demanding "the unconditional release of all political prisoners', including "the 53 dissidents still in prison from the 2003 crackdown'. If these demands do not achieve their end, then countries including the US "should be able to choose individually whether or not to impose their own restrictions on Cuba'. In fact, the US is the only country with such sanctions against Cuba.
- Advertisement -

This sort of "human rights intervention' is consistent with US foreign policy in Latin America. Dispensing with troublesome, independent regimes was practised ad nauseum throughout the "American Century', and was always backed by the US corporate elite. Delegitimising campaigns have always preceded this "regime change', for example in Guatemala and Chile. Human Rights Watch apparently sees no abuse of human rights in such interventions.

Jose Miguel Vivanco has sat on panels with Caleb McCarry, the Bush appointed and Washington-based "Transition Administrator' for a "Free Cuba', without a word about the appalling human rights abuse implicit in one country pretending to organise the political "transition' of another country. On this count, HRW needs a little homework on Article One of the International Bill of Rights, which sets out the "right of a people to self determination'.

Vivanco has similarly spoken on panels with former CIA agents Frank Calzon and Carlos Montaner, people who have personally organised terrorist attacks on Cuba. He did not sit down to condemn them for these attacks, but rather to concur with them over support for the US backed "dissidents'. Such is the flexibility of his advocacy.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3


Tim Anderson is an academic and social activist based in Sydney, Australia

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Syria: how the violence began, in Daraa

The Libyan Tragedy: lessons for the western left

Al Jazeera's attacks on Syria: some background

In Defence of the Syrian Arab Army

Syria's "false flag' terrorism, Houla and the United Nations

Hugo Chávez, Venezuela and the Corporate Media


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

The fact that the US is guilty of human rights abu... by Eric Scheihagen on Friday, Feb 12, 2010 at 1:24:02 PM
and at a minimum, should fire Vivanco.Human Rights... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 12:15:52 AM
Well done, Tim. This is a short piece I wrote when... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Monday, Feb 15, 2010 at 12:10:17 AM