The Guardian May 16, 2001


Cuba and human rights

The US's methods in coercing and blackmailing states to support its 
resolution condemning Cuba's alleged human rights violations, are in sharp 
contrast to the humane and principled position adopted by Cuba. The 
Statement delivered by Cuba's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Felipe Perez 
Roque, at the Fifty-Seventh Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, 
in Geneva, March 27, expressed sentiments shared by many other states 
towards the aggression, domination and coercive methods of the US  
sentiments which resulted in the US being thrown off the UNCHR. The 
following are extracts from his statement.

We have come here to accuse those who lie; to tell our truths. And we have 
come armed with reasons: an arsenal of just ideas and the history of 
struggle of our people  the endeavor of which to achieve full justice 
cannot be subdued by nothing or no one.

The Commission on Human Rights is today more divided than ever and on the 
verge of reaching an irreversible point of disrepute.

On the one hand, we have the representatives of the Third World: we are 
hostages to debt, victims of the unfair disorder imposed around the world; 
we only own our poverty and backwardness; we are the ones contributing 
millions of starving, poor, illiterate people; children and mothers who 
die; the ones who have grievously sustained, with our suffering, the 
opulence of our exploiters.

At this Commission, we always stand accused.

On the other hand, we have the representatives of the rich and developed 
countries: they are the creditors; those who consume almost everything that 
is produced; those who squander, pollute and forget that they owe their 
wealth to us.

They are the ones pretending to become the accusers and judges of our 
countries.

The time has come to demand that an extensive reform and democratisation 
process be implemented on this Commission.

The truth is that the Commission on Human Rights continues being an 
instrument at the service of the interests of domination of the United 
States and its allies.

Could this situation change? Of course. But it is required that you, the 
representatives of the developed countries, modestly accept the fairness of 
our demands. It is required that you recognise that you are not the 
absolute owners of the truth. It is necessary to renounce the racist notion 
that poor people cannot be also right.

We need a more democratic, tolerant world.

Why can't the existence of diverse models of civil and political ordering 
be accepted? What is the reason behind the attempt to have a single model 
of democracy prevail?

Didn't we already agree at the World Conference on Human Rights that all 
peoples are entitled to self-determination and thus freely establish their 
political conditions under this right?

The work of this Commission can be useful only if resulting from respectful 
cooperation  never from dogmatic imposition and arrogance. Cuba will 
continue to demand that this Commission cease being a hostage to 
unjustifiable interests.

Cuba will not give up its struggle as long as the right of all countries is 
not respected; as long as there is no guarantee for the pluralistic, 
transparent, objective and democratic functioning of this Commission.

The United States accuses Cuba of human rights violations. As we all know, 
a genuine concern over the human rights situation in Cuba is not at stake 
in this accusation.

What is really at stake is whether a small Third World country can or 
cannot choose its own path and build, in its own way, a future of equality 
and well-being for its children.

I reject and deeply despise the accusation against Cuba  fabricated by 
the United States and imposed on this Commission through extreme pressures.

I steadfastly uphold, looking each of you in the eye, that there are no 
human rights violations in Cuba; that there is no justification whatsoever 
behind the attempt to single Cuba out at this Commission; that such 
assertion can only be possible on account of the pathological incapacity of 
the United States to accept Cuba as an independent country that no longer 
belongs to it.

After more than 40 years of a genocidal blockade and an economic war; 
invasions; terrorist acts; subversive attempts; sabotage; assassination 
plots against Cuban leaders; biological warfare and many other acts of 
aggression, the Commission on Human Rights is the most recent battlefield 
between the US oppressive design against Cuba and our desires for 
independence, justice and development... The United States is the country 
with the least moral authority to judge Cuba over human rights and 
democracy issues.

I cannot help asking: Has any one ever seen the police in Cuba beating up 
the workers or the students during a demonstration, shooting rubber bullets 
at them, setting dogs or horses on them, throwing tear gas at them  as it 
happens on a daily basis in quite a few places of the world today?

You know that in Cuba leaders demonstrate alongside the people. So 
transparent and humane is our record, that it is impossible to deny it!

Can anybody in this hall mention a single case of torture, murder or 
disappearance in Cuba?

Does anyone in this hall know of a single case of journalists assassinated 
in Cuba, or of the kidnapping of children  other than the failed attempt 
to retain a Cuban child in the United States  or the sale of children, or 
child slavery?

Has any one ever heard of a death squad in Cuba? Has any one seen in Cuba a 
demonstration of mothers and grandmothers crying out for their murdered or 
missing children and grandchildren?

Has any one of you heard that the Cuban Government, by deceiving its 
people, has imposed an IMF adjustment program or given the country's riches 
away to transnational corporations?

Have you not wondered why after 40 years of blockade and 10 years of dire 
economic constraints we retain, increasingly, the overwhelming support of 
our people? The answer is that the Revolution belongs to the people, not to 
a power-obsessed elite.

Leaders in Cuba view our responsibilities as a duty, an attitude to life, 
not a lifestyle.

Our authority is not only based on our democratic and transparent election, 
with no money or corruption involved, but on our people's conviction that 
we do not steal; that we are not above their needs and dreams; that we 
share their difficulties; that we will not stop living an austere, 
committed life.

Should it be interpreted then that we think of ourselves as a perfect 
society? No, we are not satisfied. We are only beginning. We are trying to 
obliterate centuries of marginalisation and injustices.

We intend to raise education and culture to levels that have never been 
achieved by our people. We are striving to pass down to our children levels 
of equality, social justice and citizen participation never before attained 
by any other society.

We will do our utmost to continue improving our achievements, to make our 
political system more efficient and participatory, which is  we know it 
well  by far more democratic than the one of our fallacious accusers.

In Cuba, we struggle for an increasingly tolerant and humane society. We 
dream of an increasingly cultivated and educated people  which translates 
into a freer people.

We dream of a people with profound social sensitivity, devoid of 
selfishness, with deep-rooted humanist convictions.

No pressure can be exerted on us. We have ethics. We have morale. And I 
should be emphatically clear about this: We do not and will not accept 
either pressures or threats!

We have the encouragement and sympathy of the peoples of Latin America  
who know that our struggle is also for their rights; who recall Cuba's 
solidarity and support at a time when US-sponsored dictatorships tortured, 
murdered and caused the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of people in 
Our America.

We also know that Cuba's struggle is in favour of the respect for the 
rights of everyone in the Third World  so that contempt and disregard can 
cease over our right to a more equitable and just world, over our right to 
development and life.

The United States is upset about Cuba wanting to be free and independent. 
And Cuba is not going to cease being ever free and more independent!

The United States is upset about Cuba being socialist. And Cuba is going to 
be increasingly socialist!

The United States is upset about the fact that it is the people who rule in 
Cuba. And in Cuba our people will increasingly determine its destiny!

The United States is upset about Cuba curtailing their imperialist and 
hegemonic designs. And Cuba will increase its anti-imperialism and 
solidarity towards just causes!

Forty years of heroic endurance underpin our ideas, our reasons, our 
truths, our invincible strength, and our unflinching and indestructible 
freedom!

Rulers in the United States no longer know what to do about Cuba. In one 
field or another, they will continue to sustain one defeat after the other.

What they are trying to achieve at this Commission, on the basis of 
humiliating pressures on its members and a very high political cost, 
reveals that they have forgotten that famous thought of King Pyrrhus: "With 
another victory like this, I am lost."

We are not accusing their people, capable of being noble and idealistic; we 
are accusing a hegemonic system of domination and a selfish, rapacious 
political and economic order imposed on the world that is, in addition, 
unsustainable.

There are some who ask a gesture from us in order to please the United 
States. The gesture that I make, on behalf of my people, is to raise my 
fist and loudly proclaim the words that for forty years all Cubans have 
uttered in light of each of their crimes and acts of aggression against 
Cuba:

Fatherland or Death! We shall overcome!

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